Up until quite recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) spent very little time outside the United States. He took a trade trip to China and Japan two years ago, but the Republican governor has otherwise spent the vast majority of his time in his home state.
But as Walker’s presidential campaign moves forward, all of a sudden, he’s racking up quite a few frequent-flier miles. That wouldn’t be especially noteworthy, were it not for two important issues.
First, Wisconsin policymakers are currently busy trying to deal with the governor’s right-wing budget plan, and it’s not going especially well. Walker might be able to help the process along, except he keeps leaving the country.
Which leads us to the second problem: as the Washington Post reported, Walker is having taxpayers pick up the tab for his travels.
Now a potential GOP contender with a lack of foreign policy expertise, Walker in recent months booked three taxpayer-funded trips in quick succession: four days in Britain in early February, a week in Germany, France and Spain in April, and now [this week’s] journey to Canada.The visit to Britain cost taxpayers $138,200, according to Walker’s office. He has yet to release costs for the other trips.
Even if nothing were going on in Madison, it’s problematic for a governor to ask taxpayers to help boost his resume in advance of a presidential campaign. But the fact that Walker keeps taking trips to foreign soil in the middle of an intense budget standoff isn’t exactly improving his reputation in Wisconsin. From an AP report this week:
Absentee governors are part of the political landscape when a presidential campaign begins and some want to run. There’s no getting around the need to raise money, make national appearances and organize early in important states. What may distinguish Walker, though, is the grief he’s getting from his own party.One GOP lawmaker has dissed his spending plan as a “crap budget,” and it gets worse than merely a rhetorical slap. While Walker has been courting voters, party activists and donors in advance of his expected announcement that he’s running for the 2016 party nomination, state GOP lawmakers, in concert with Democrats, have crushed some of his biggest ideas this year.
The real oddity is that Walker has delayed his former campaign kickoff until July 13, ostensibly to help him focus on the state budget process before officially entering the presidential race. But folks in Madison never see him as he hopscotches around the globe, often on the public’s dime.
Well, if nothing else, at least the governor’s peripatetic tendencies will improve his standing on foreign policy? Actually, not so much.