If it seems like there’s a confab for Republican presidential hopefuls about once a week, it’s not your imagination. The series of “cattle calls” is practically endless, including the Southern Republican Leadership Conference that began yesterday in Oklahoma City, drawing much of the GOP field.
Most of the rhetoric was roughly what one might expect, but there was something Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said that stood out for me.
“There’s a lot of great people out there who are thinking about, or are currently in the race, for president on the Republican side. Now, there are some people, there are some of those folks, particularly those in Washington, who are really good fighters – they’re fighting the good fight, they’re waving the flag, they’re carrying the banner – but they haven’t won a whole lot of victories yet.“And then there’s some other folks out there that they have done a really effective job of winning elections – a lot of friends of mine, governors or former governors who got elected and they got re-elected. They won a lot of elections, but they haven’t taken on a lot of those fights.“I gotta tell you, ladies and gentlemen, part of the reason why I’m even thinking about what I’m thinking about – we haven’t announced anything yet, won’t until after the end of June when our state budget is done – I have yet to see anyone in the field or in the emerging field who’s done both.”
And that, in a nutshell, is Scott Walker’s core 2016 pitch. What’s more, it’s largely true.
There are five GOP senators effectively in the race – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Santorum – and their collective number of far-right accomplishments is practically non-existent.
Aside from Walker, there are also nine Republican governors effectively in the race – Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, James Gilmore, and Bob Ehrlich – and their far-right success stories are pretty limited, too.
With this in mind, we know exactly what Scott Walker is going to spend the next several months saying: he’s not only won elections, he’s done a bunch of right-wing things, including gutting unions, imposing unnecessary voting restrictions, and curtailing reproductive rights.
And, of course, he’s going to say he’s the only candidate in the massive field who can make this boast, which isn’t a bad argument, at least in tactical terms. Clearly, those who find Walker’s radical vision offensive aren’t going to be persuaded by his message, but for Republican primary voters, Walker has the kind of accomplishments that matter.
It’s probably why Walker deserves to be seen as a likely nominee.