It’s practically impossible to put a positive spin on the state of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) presidential campaign. Over the last month or so, the far-right governor, once seen as a top-tier contender and possible nominee, has seen his support simply collapse.
Walker apparently hoped to use this week’s debate to get back on track, but this didn’t work out either – over the course of three hours, Walker fielded only three questions. There were long stretches in which his presence on the stage was an afterthought.
Yesterday, the Washington Post published a report on Team Walker trying to reassure supporters, but the article included this discouraging tidbit.
Angst has built among Walker’s top fundraisers and donors in the last two weeks as his poll numbers have plummeted in Iowa and nationwide. Stanley S. Hubbard, a Minnesota media mogul and top Walker donor, said that while he is sticking with Walker for now, he is considering also giving money to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. All performed well at Wednesday’s debate, he said.“I think I might help some other candidates too,” Hubbard said. “There might be some good candidates.”
This is pretty much the opposite of what Walker needs right now. Usually, billionaire mega-donors survey a field and choose a candidate. In this case, Hubbard decided to bet on Walker – until very recently, when Hubbard started thinking (and talking publicly about) quite literally hedging his bets.
The Post piece added, “Donors have started holding spontaneous conference calls, patching a half-dozen people together on the phone to try to game out what the governor should do.” Walker’s “verbal missteps,” the article said, have also been “a topic of concern among his own loyalists.”
Raise your hand if you think all is well in Walker Land.
Nevertheless, the governor and his team seem well aware of the fact that they have a problem, and appear to have a solution in mind.
“I think we’re putting all our eggs in the basket of Iowa, we’re committed to Iowa, and I think that’ll help us make the case all throughout the country,” Walker told MSNBC in an interview in the spin room after Wednesday night’s GOP debate.The comments represent an unusually frank assessment from a candidate – as opposed to a strategist or operative – about the execution of a campaign.
The candor is welcome, but it represents a significant risk. Once a candidate admits that he’s betting the farm on a single contest, the all-in tactic may seem bold, but it also raises the prospect of an immediate collapse if the gambit falls short.
Recent polling shows Walker’s support in Iowa below 5% – which puts him in seventh place in the state.