It is not clear this will hurt him in the primary campaign, but it should be a red flag to supporters and advisers when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker winds up simultaneously saying he supports his wife’s cousin’s gay marriage and he wants a constitutional amendment to allow states to ban gay marriage. In a revealing interview with ABC News, this ensued:

“I love them, so I support them,” Walker said of his wife Tonette’s cousin and her partner. “Love’s gonna be the focus of everything we do with our family and our close friends,” Walker told [ABC News’s David] Muir while seated beside his wife and two sons, who support same-sex marriage, for an interview at the governor’s mansion in Madison, Wisconsin. Walker’s son, Alex, even participated as a witness in the courtroom wedding for Tonette’s cousin, though the governor himself did not attend. . . .
But beyond the concern, Tonette said [she] felt for her sons, she had a difficult phone call of her own to make.
“I reached out to my cousin right away and said, ‘This is the same person that he was last week that you’ve known for 20-some years that has the same position and it hasn’t changed,’” Tonette told her cousin over the phone. “It took us two, three days to talk with family, I, with Shelly and Cathy, and I think … we’re back to where we were before.”
“The bottom line is I’ve got a position,” the governor went on to say. “As Tonette said, I’ve had it for 20 years — voted for it in the legislature, defended it as governor and believe that. But you know, in any family, in any group of friends, there are gonna be differences. And I think people can respect that.”

That’s a pretty fine line he is trying to walk. If he “supports” gay marrieds in his own family, then it is fair to ask why he would deny that to gays to whom he is not related. Moreover, his statement is not exactly consistent. When the 7th Circuit found his state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, he did not voice support for an amendment. He did not do that until his campaign was well underway, he was pitching himself as a social conservative and he wanted to sound indignant about the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Moreover, when Walker said in the interview the he would support a gay marriage amendment, he shied away from saying he would fight for it. Listen, if social conservatives want someone to fight and not just posture on the issue, you’d think they would go with a Mike Huckabee or someone similar.

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And this is the difficulty Walker has. Much of his language and positions as a governor of a purple-blue state will not be acceptable to the far right, especially Iowa caucus goers. But it is not so easy to pivot once you have set Iowa as a critical stepping stone on the way to the nomination. Walker’s great selling point has been his frank, honest demeanor. Losing that would be worse than losing Iowa.

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