There were a number of deserving pols this week. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) kept up the barrage against the Internal Revenue Service officials who claim to know very little about how the scandal targeting conservatives began and who exactly is responsible. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is plugging away on immigration reform, while his often-mentioned 2016 contender Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) got good reviews in California.
But in the “hitting above his weight category Wiisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) stood out. The Hill recounts his visit to Iowa this week:
Walker gave a well-received speech to the Iowa Republican Party Thursday night, and many in the state say he would bring some strong assets to a presidential run. While the beltway presidential buzz has focused on Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Walker’s admirers say his record as a conservative warrior, folksy Midwestern demeanor and big fundraising connections could make him a contender.“Gov. Walker has a lot going for him and he’d be a very appealing candidate in a state like Iowa for the caucuses,” says Bob Vander Plaats, an influential social conservative kingmaker in the state. “Not only is he right on a lot of issues, he’s been very bold and courageous on his leadership on a lot of those issues. And being a neighbor to Iowa doesn’t guarantee you success but it certainly doesn’t hurt.”
For a party that will need to bridge the gap between stalwart conservatives and reformers, Walker has cross-over appeal. Byron York remarks: “Talk to Iowa politicos who supported Mitt Romney last time around, and then talk to politicos who supported anybody but Romney, and ask what they think about Walker. You’ll hear a lot of positive things from both groups.”
Walker has gained credibility as a fighter in standing up to Big Labor and surviving a recall attempt, while pursuing a conservative reform agenda on health care, the budget and education.
He’s also showed he can deliver a stemwinder, early in the year at the CPAC convention and now in Iowa.
He may not have the name recognition and fundraising network of other potential candidates, but one can easily envision him capturing several of the early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina), building momentum and then breaking out as the bigger state contests unfold. He has shown the ability to impress and draw a crowd, as York observed:
Walker’s appearance drew more people, and raised more money for the GOP, than an earlier visit from Sen. Paul. But it attracted far less media coverage. So far, he’s still mostly flying under the radar.
But look for that to change. Walker is getting such good notices from Iowa insiders that outside attention will surely follow. “Scott Walker has impressed me most,” says Craig Robinson, of the influential Iowa Republican blog. Walker’s trip to Des Moines, Robinson says, was all about laying a solid foundation for a possible candidacy.
The GOP governors remain the most effective elected officials the party has, and if by 2016 the country is starved for tough, bold executive action by someone who actually knows how to govern, he could go far.
So for all those reasons, and for his ability to put into practice and into words the mix of conservative values and popular results, Scott Walker certain deserves praise. Well done, governor.