Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) sat down with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl yesterday and made some news, though not necessarily the kind that will help his unannounced presidential campaign.
It was striking to hear the Republican governor say, for example, that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality this month, he believes the appropriate response would be “ultimately to consider pursuing a constitutional amendment.” As for what such an amendment might say, Walker added that he envisions a policy in which states would have the constitutional authority to block same-sex couples from getting married.
On foreign policy, Karl asked the governor if he would “rule out a full-blown U.S. re-invasion of Iraq and Syria.” Walker initially hedged, but refused to rule out the possibility.
Taken together, those two positions alone may give pause to much of the American electorate. But consider the significance of this other exchange:
KARL: So one of your central promises was that you were going to create 250,000 private sector jobs in Wisconsin. When I asked you about that two years ago, you said you would get it done…. But you haven’t done it. You fell quite a bit short.WALKER: Yeah, we set a big bold goal. We created over 150,000 jobs in these first four years…. We’re going to continue to aim high both in our state, and if I were a candidate for president of the United States, I would aim high there as well.
As a gubernatorial candidate five years ago, Walker offered Wisconsin a specific metric of success: he was so confident in the strength of his economic plan that he told voters that he would create 250,000 jobs in four years. He even said this should serve as the standard upon which he should be judged.
And Walker failed miserably to deliver. Indeed, he struggled to create half of the job totals he promised. His defense is that he “aimed high,” but that’s not a credible argument for a national candidate. Those who make bold promises about ambitious goals and then fail to deliver don’t get to brag about their success.
The ABC interview soon added:
KARL: But that was a central promise. You fell significantly short, so should we expect you to fall short of the promises you’re making now?WALKER: Well, you look at all the other promises we made….
No, let’s not look at the other promises. That’s the whole point. Walker’s vow of 250,000 jobs in four years was the central plank of his statewide candidacy, and he failed to deliver. Saying, “Yeah, but I delivered some other stuff!” isn’t a satisfying rejoinder.
To be sure, Wisconsin voters apparently didn’t much care that the governor failed badly to meet his most important goal and they re-elected him with relative ease last year. It’s entirely possible that GOP primary voters won’t take this too seriously, either.
But for a national audience, this still seems like a problem for which there is no easy answer. Walker made a vow about the efficacy of his economic plan, and then he was proven wrong. Now he’s ready to tell the whole country about his credibility on economic issues, and it’s not at all clear why anyone would believe him.
Indeed, look again at what he told Jonathan Karl: “[I]f I were a candidate for president of the United States, I would aim high there as well.”
In other words, “Once I’m a presidential candidate, I’ll set ambitious goals for the whole country, and I probably won’t be able to deliver on them, either.”