First, the requisite compliment: Gov. Scott Walker is a wonderful guy and a true leader. What he has done in standing up to the unions is remarkable and will be remembered in history. I had high hopes he could marry his fearless leadership with conservative positions that I assumed he held – on marriage, on life, on spending – but … well, his campaign for president became something else entirely.
Now, add to that something else that was the Walker campaign. The press, the political consultant class, and especially the establishment are pushing their line on Mr. Walker: He was unprepared, didn’t know foreign policy, debated poorly, etc. Their saying it was Mr. Walker’s wife’s fault, his campaign manager, his debate coach. All sorts of people will catch blame. These are all excuses hiding the truth.
Mr. Walker failed because in every Republican cycle, the establishment needs some guys to run and to fail. The Establishment needs the money and employment, and they need candidates to play along with the rigged Republican nomination process. Mr. Walker bought the Establishment plan and he ran the same playbook that the Republican establishment has been using for nearly two decades. That is, raise a boatload of money and spend it on consultants and staff (especially in early states) and then raise more money and run ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Media buyers get 10 percent for the ad buys, and the media in Iowa and New Hampshire love the cash too!) Pollsters must be paid big money to parse positions and “sharpen” the candidate.
Mr. Walker went along with it all. He imported a campaign manager (Rick Wiley) directly from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ staff. And the hiring began. Here in St. Louis, a prominent consultant was hired to do grassroots/conservative coalitions … paid thousands of dollars but that needle never moved (except down). Great quote from Mr. Reince’s guy who ran the Walker campaign: “We didn’t have a spending problem – we had a revenue problem.” Everyone wins except Scott Walker.
Next, Mr. Walker started dancing on his positions as pollsters demand and it made him look weak and confused – immigration is the best example. And the band (of consultants) paid on as the ship slipped sideways.
This a racket that has worked well for the consultants with campaigns. (By the way, don’t worry about the consultants and staffers – they are being snapped up by other campaigns running the Establishment plan like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush! And Reince can put them back on the payroll, too.)
However, voters are sick of the D.C. racket. Voters care less if candidates have served in office (Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson) or if they understand the nuances of foreign policy (again, Mr. Carson, Mr. Trump). No, the voters – in fact, most Americans – want someone who is authentic and who will fight for them not for a political office but for their future. If Mr. Walker understood this, he could have kept his staff to a minimum and his spending light. He could have announced, “I plan to run until the end and make a big argument for Americans.” He easily could have become the consensus choice in late March or April when the others stumble.
Instead, his staff gathered Wednesday night at a microbrewery near their Wisconsin headquarters. I suspect toasted their good fortunes: “Here’s to us and to our next stop on another campaign.”
Ed Martin is President of Eagle Forum, the pro-family education and policy organization founded in 1972 by Phyllis Schlafly.