Right Turn is on vacation and will return on August 12. Next in our series looking at the top GOP presidential contenders, we examine what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has to do to position himself for 2016.
1. Be the guy who’s already slayed the left. Tout his survival of the recall effort in Wisconsin as a badge of honor and evidence he has already shown the toughness to beat liberals.
2. Become better known. GOP insiders and political junkies know him, but most voters don’t. He’ll need to raise his profile with trips, speeches, TV appearances and maybe a book.
3. Establish himself as the candidate that bridges the gap between the tea party and mainstream Republicans. He’s taken on the left, but not tilted at windmills.
4. Define himself as the embodiment of conservative governance. He’s the guy who got through labor, health-care and education reform.
5. Focus on Iowa. As a nearby governor and a congenial retail politician, Walker can use Iowa to vault to the top tier of candidates. He’ll need a win or an impressive showing ahead of better-known candidates to become a serious contender.
6. Get some foreign policy expertise. In some ways he’s the ideal mix of daring and practicality on domestic issues, but he’ll have to meet the bar on national security without the benefit of any national security experience.
7. Figure out how to use non-political media. Walker is an excellent speaker and has shown he can win voters over in small settings. But he’ll also need to master late night TV shows, People magazine and social media. Can he project a regular-guy image?
8. Steel himself for the national MSM. Unlike New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been in the New York media market, and Beltway lawmakers who engage the press every day, Walker has had comparatively little experience in the national limelight. He will need a top-flight communications team.
9. Decide if he’s going to enter the fray against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is likely to run. On a personal level, he’ll really need to want the nomination badly enough to fight former allies.
10. Solve the money problem. As a lesser known candidate without a huge national finance network, Walker will need to learn to live off the land before his candidacy takes off. The model for this is Rick Santorum who practically lived in Iowa and worked feverishly in a small, less expensive state.