THE BIG IDEA:
— Scott Walker believed that surviving the recall prepared him for the rigors and scrutiny that come with running for president. He was wrong.
Winning three elections in four years in a blue state like Wisconsin clouded his judgment and made him overconfident in his own abilities.
He shuffled off to his super PAC some of his closest, long-term advisers who helped him get onto the national stage. From there, they could not coordinate with him. He surrounded himself with an oversized entourage that didn’t seem to understand what made him tick. He wound up looking like a flip-flopper who was not ready for prime time and who was constantly telling audiences what they wanted to hear.
Walker seemed to blame Donald Trump last night for changing the dynamic in the race and causing him to drop out, but he and his own senior staff deserve more blame than anyone else. Here are five of the reasons Walker blew his very real chance to be the GOP nominee:
1. He came across as inauthentic. Trump is leading in the polls because conservatives think he tells it like it is, even if they don’t agree with him on every issue or find some of what he says offensive. Walker, who has never held a real job outside politics, made himself look like a career politician with constant punts and recalibrations. It always felt like he had his finger in the wind and was studying the polls a little too closely. The Post reporter on the Walker beat, Jenna Johnson, seemed to always be filing stories on how the governor was trying to clarify his position on this or that.
He flip-flopped on ethanol to try winning over Iowa agriculture interests.
He flipped on immigration, taking a hard line to match the mood of the moment and to have an issue with which he could contrast himself from the right with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
He seemed to endorse ending birthright citizenship last month. Then he said he didn’t have a position on the issue. Then he said that he did not want to change the Constitution, which many believe guarantees citizenship to those born on U.S. soil.
Over Labor Day weekend, he refused to say if the U.S. should accept more Syrian refugees, telling reporters that it was a “hypothetical question” and that he wanted to talk about reality — only to say soon after that the United States should not accept more refugees.
2. He was out of his depth on both foreign and domestic policy.
At a Club for Growth donor meeting this spring, he appeared not to understand what was actually in Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform or the ins-and-outs of the Export-Import bank, two issues big in Washington but not Wisconsin.
He claimed that Ronald Reagan firing the air traffic controllers was “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime.” Even supporters couldn’t believe when he likened taking on the Islamic State to taking on Big Labor. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said at CPAC in February.
3. He seemed unserious and thus unpresidential.
On “Meet the Press” last month, when Chuck Todd asked Scott Walker about building a wall along the northern border with Canada, Walker responded: “That’s a legitimate issue for us to look at.” Then a few days later, he said he never supported the idea and blamed the media for twisting his words.
Members of his team thought they were being really clever when they had him announce he’d cancel the Chinese state dinner if he was president. They went out on a limb, assuming others would follow. Instead, he got mocked by conservative thought leaders, who said he looked naïve.
4. He never picked a lane.
It was not clear if Walker was trying to be the evangelical candidate, the tea party candidate, the establishment alternative to Bush or something else. Trying to be all things to all people made him seem indecisive. He didn’t take a position on evolution, afraid of alienating social conservatives. He said early in the year that he didn’t know if Obama was a Christian. Several months later, asked the same question, he said he still did not know.
5. He staffed up way too much way too fast.
A recent count put the number of full-time Walker campaign staff at around 90, including a full-time photographer. He spent the spring rolling out the names of consultants he hired in the early states before he had demonstrated that he could put together a finance operation to pay their salaries.
Walker wrongly assumed that donors who had given to him during the recall fight would naturally support his presidential campaign. He was out of practice at running against other Republicans.
— The highest highs and lowest lows: Walker led in early Iowa polls after a breakout performance in January. But he got less speaking time than every other candidate on stage at last week’s debate. In February, the Wisconsin governor actually had the largest share of the GOP presidential chatter across all forms of media. More than one in four mentions of any Republican contender on Twitter, television or online media that month was about Walker. But that number fell sharply as the field grew, and Walker was left behind, as this graphic from our analytics partners at Zignal Labs illustrates:
— Who benefits the most from Walker dropping out? Establishment types turned to Walker because they didn’t like Jeb. Will they settle for the former Florida governor now? Or will they look to someone else?
- John Kasich is now the only Midwestern governor still running. He’s doing well in New Hampshire and can make a compelling case that he’ll be competitive in the region during a general election; he’s the only incumbent governor running who is actually popular in the state he leads.
- Carly Fiorina is getting her moment right as a bunch of talent and donors come on the market. The Des Moines Register speculates that she will gain the most.
- Marco Rubio: The Florida senator competed with Walker for much of the year to be the bridge candidate between the tea party and establishment wings of the party. Rubio has kept his head down, hoping to peak late, a strategy validated by Walker’s rapid rise and fall.
— The scramble is on for his donors. “Aides to Jeb started approaching top Walker bundlers after Walker failed to break out in last week’s GOP debate, urging them to jump ship,” Matea Gold and Sean Sullivan report. “Deep-pocketed contributors helped Unintimidated PAC raise $20 million in less than two months this spring. The super PAC was on track to raise an additional $15 million to $20 million by the end of the year, according to a Republican with intimate knowledge of the operation…. Among donors, there is no clear consensus about who to go with now. Among the favorites mentioned in phone conversations are Rubio, Fiorina, John Kasich and Chris Christie. Bush is seen as having less appeal, in part because many of Walker’s backers view him as insufficiently conservative.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Hillary Clinton wants a monthly cap of $250 on the amount seriously and chronically ill patients pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. It’s part of her plan to expand on Obamacare and she’ll elaborate today in Iowa. The announcement comes on the heels of outrage over the overnight rise of the price in an anti-parasitic drug from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. A similar hike for the price of tuberculosis drugs was rescinded after a public outcry.
— Bernie Sanders, Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz all made the late-show talk circuit last night.
— Stephen Colbert grilled Cruz about gay marriage. The Texas senator was booed at one point when discussing his opposition to gay rights, with Colbert responding: “Guys, however you feel, he’s my guest so please don’t boo him.” Read story here. Watch full episode on CBS here.
— Fiorina defended her business record at HP on Jimmy Fallon and said she would be “fine” with a Muslim as president. “I think that’s wrong,” Fiorina said in response to Ben Carson’s controversial comment. “It says in our Constitution that religion cannot be a test for office. I believe that anyone of any faith make better leaders.” She also said that Vladimir Putin, whom she reiterated she would ice out, and Trump “have a lot in common.” Read story here. Watch clips from NBC here.
— Bernie on Wilmore made a play for African Americans: On Comedy Central’s “Nightly Show,” Sanders continued his effort to reach black voters by donning a “Black-Eyed Peas matter” cap and eating “soul-food” with host Larry Wilmore, who asked how the senator would get black people to “feel the Bern.” “We’re going to do everything we can to end institutional racism in this country,” Sanders proclaimed. Read story here. Watch clips from Comedy Central here.
GET SMART FAST:
- More than one in five female undergraduates at top universities said this year that they were victims of rape or other forms of assault and misconduct in a new study. Learn more.
- Former peanut executive Stewart Parnell was sentenced Monday to 28 years in prison for his role in a nationwide salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds in 2008 and 2009. “The sentence marked the most severe punishment ever for a food-related crime,” Brady Dennis reports.
- The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into whether Volkswagen cheated on emissions standards.
- The director of the Secret Service apologized after 700 parents and children were ordered out of Lafayette Square Saturday night for at least two hours. The move disrupted their plans for a candlelight vigil to raise awareness and research funding for childhood cancer. (Dana Hedgpeth and Fredrick Kunkle)
- Senate Republicans are preparing to introduce a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, possibly today. (Kelsey Snell)
- Senate Democrats will unveil an ambitious climate change bill to coincide with the pope’s arrival. It has no chance of passing this Congress. (NYT)
- The family of a 14-year-old Muslim student who got in trouble over a homemade clock mistaken for a possible bomb withdrew the boy Monday from his suburban Dallas high school. (AP)
- The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates steady was a very “close call,” with members of the committee divided. Meanwhile, “U.S. home resales fell more than expected in August, a cautionary sign for the U.S. housing market which has recently looked on stronger footing,” per Reuters.
- A U.S. grand jury is examining allegations of corruption involving the embattled prime minister of Malaysia and people close to him. (NYT)
- A federal jury convicted a man of murder for pushing his wife to her death off a cliff as they hiked in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate their wedding anniversary, rejecting his claim that her fall was a tragic accident, the AP reports.
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Brian Williams returns to TV tonight, anchoring MSNBC’s coverage of Pope Francis’s arrival in the United States. (Paul Farhi)
- Taran Killam has landed the role of Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” (Deadline Hollywood)
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended the law license of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, limiting the actions she can perform as she continues in office despite criminal charges. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- The ACLU filed a motion in court saying Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is violating the terms of her release from jail, interfering with deputies issuing marriage licenses. (NBC)
- Paul Ryan plans to moderate a South Carolina forum focused on poverty on Jan. 9 for the presidential candidates.
- Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Benghazi committee, is the featured guest at a fundraiser for Marco Rubio in Dallas. The two are friends, and sources say this does not constitute an endorsement.
- South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney endorsed Rand Paul. Mulvaney has been a constant thorn in John Boehner’s side, and “his endorsement gives Paul a much-needed boost in perhaps the least habitable early primary state.” (David Weigel)
MUST-READ — “Inside Chris Christie’s militia, flab and cronyism trigger mutiny in the ranks,” by Craig Whitlock: “As commander in chief of the New Jersey National Guard, Christie is in charge of 8,400 citizen soldiers, a militia that has become increasingly dysfunctional under his watch…. Christie reappointed a two-star Army general — a childhood friend — to lead the Guard. But the married general was forced to resign in disgrace after staff members caught him having an affair at work, documents show. The governor’s next pick, an Air Force pilot, was secretly reprimanded by the Pentagon last year for his excessive waistline and for repeatedly ducking physical-fitness tests, according to records obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. More recently, several high-ranking officers have filed whistle-blower complaints, alleging that the Guard’s leadership is plagued by cronyism, racism and a ‘toxic’ command climate…. ‘It’s like the mob,’ said Brian K. Scully, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who says he lost his job because he refused to help cover up the general’s affair. ‘One minute you’re the made man. The next, you get a bullet in the back of your head. Only here it’s career assassination.'”
— “No soft landing as Chinese President Xi begins state visit,” by Todd C. Frankel from Seattle, the first stop on Xi’s U.S. visit: “Suspicion now hangs over even ordinary events, such as a Chinese-American Internet summit set to occur during Xi’s visit to Seattle, with accusations that Chinese officials strong-armed U.S. tech titans into attending. A minor meet-and-greet in Seattle between Xi and U.S. elected officials provided a fresh opportunity to offend after the four Republican members of Washington state’s congressional delegation bowed out of the informal gathering.” David Nakamura and Juliet Eilperin note the unusual convergence of this week’s visits from President Xi and Pope Francis.
— “Jeff Smith was supposed to be an ex-con with a story to tell. Instead, he’s an ex-con with a story to tell,” by Ben Terris: “On a recent September evening, Jeff Smith, a former political rising star from St. Louis with an anchorman’s head of hair and a Hill intern’s blue blazer, sat before an audience at Dupont Circle’s Kramerbooks to talk about his year in prison…. Just a decade ago, Smith had one of the brightest futures of any Democratic politician in Missouri. He was a progressive state senator with a budding national profile, whose narrow defeat in an election for Congress was chronicled in a well-received 2006 documentary, ‘Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?’… How Smith ended up serving time is one of the wildest and most convoluted sagas in recent political history.”
— “With fight against Islamic State in Iraq stalled, U.S. looks to Syria for gains,” by Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe: “With the offensive to reclaim territory from the Islamic State largely stalled in Iraq, the Obama administration is laying plans for a more aggressive military campaign in Syria, where U.S.-backed Kurdish forces have made surprising gains in recent months…. The White House’s top national security officials met last week and will convene again in the next few days to discuss ways to capitalize on recent and unexpected gains made by Syrian irregular forces. The administration is considering providing arms and ammunition to a wider array of rebel groups in Syria and relaxing vetting standards, effectively deepening America’s involvement in the ongoing civil war.” Russia, meanwhile, continues to expand the number of combat aircraft in country.
— The Catholic lobby is gaining in influence, even though its political wins are limited, explains PowerPost’s Catherine Ho.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— Pictures of the day:
With the pope countdown entering its final hours, Washington is getting excited. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) tweeted photos of his invitation to the pontiff’s speech at the Capitol:
D.C. neighborhood blog PoPville shared this photo of Kitkit of Brightwood, who is “super stoked” about Francis’s visit:
And Meghan Roh, an aide to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), shared this photo of preparations near Capitol Hill. “@Pontifex Potties™ all set at Union Station,” she tweeted:
Jeb spoke in Mason City, Iowa, the town that inspired “The Music Man,” where he criticized Hillary’s “machine” for 9/11-related attacks:
“The wifi password for Jeb’s event at Music Man Square is on point,” said Betsy Klein, a CNN embed in Iowa:
— Tweets of the day:
Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin joined Twitter with the handle @HumaAbedin:
Clinton press aide Nick Merrill followed up with a video of the moment (watch here):
Donald Trump made a comment about Twitter during a visit to the company’s New York headquarters:
Is the feud ongoing? In the evening, Trump expressed dismay at the coverage of his campaign on Fox News:
— Instagrams of the day:
Lena Dunham debuted a Ruth Bader Ginsburg pin on Instagram. “RBG watchin over me,” she wrote:
On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton got caught in a double selfie:
For his last Instagram post of the campaign, Scott Walker celebrated “National Wife Appreciation Day”:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— New York Times, “In Pelosi, strong Catholic faith and abortion rights coexist,” by Jennifer Steinhauer: “For Representative Nancy Pelosi … the issue of abortion rights has always been ancillary to her unwavering faith and deep approbation for generations of popes. ‘I actually agree with the pope on more issues than many Catholics who agree with him on one issue,’ Ms. Pelosi said in an interview…. But that one issue, abortion, is adding a thick layer of tension to the otherwise convivial mood as Congress prepares for the arrival of Pope Francis this week…. ‘If they [Republicans] think they are making the pope more welcome’ by putting abortion measures on the legislative calendar the week he is in Washington, ‘they are mistaken,’ [Pelosi] said. ‘The pope is his own reason’…. For Ms. Pelosi, the notion of disagreeing with other Catholics about abortion has not weighed on her sense of faith. ‘I think everyone grants everyone their position,’ she said. ‘The church has their position, and we have ours, which is that a woman has free will given to her by God. My family is very pro-life,’ she added, noting that she has lived with the conflict all her life.”
— Roll Call, “Members will be blocked 2 ways from touching Pope Francis,” by David Hawkings: “Too many members cannot be trusted to behave themselves when Pope Francis comes to the Capitol, the congressional leadership has decided. And so, to enforce decorous discipline, some extraordinary measures are being readied. Each party is assembling teams of lawmakers to essentially act as blocking tackles, willing to restrain any of their colleagues intent on trying to reach out for a papal touch as he walks onto the floor of the House. And after the historic speech, the doors to the cloakrooms and the hallways will be blocked — and in some cases, locked — to prevent lawmakers from leaving the chamber for perhaps half an hour, until Francis has appeared on a West Front balcony to greet the ticketed throng and then departed the Hill by motorcade … leadership is looking for about 50 members known for their patience and institutional good manners. On the promise they’ll keep their hands to themselves, they’ll be assigned to wear dark colors (with hems below the knee for women) as papal protocol dictates, show up when the doors open and fill the three chairs on either side of the aisle in each of the chamber’s eight rows of fixed seating.”
— Vox.com’s Matthew Yglesias, not exactly a GOP primary voter, makes the argument that Rubio is a better bet for the GOP than Jeb: “One key reason is that while I, personally, am of the school of thought that outsider candidates like Trump and Carson face much longer odds than their current standing in the polls implies there are no sure things in politics. It’s at least conceivable that one of those guys — or Ted Cruz — really could sweep the field. George McGovern and Jimmy Carter, for example, both won Democratic Party nominations over the objections of party insiders…. All the conventional candidates in the field… have something of an obligation to ensure that they don’t collectively do so much to divide the establishment that they let an outsider in. Call it low-energy or blame the lack of support from his mother, but from day one every aspect of Bush’s campaign not directly related to fundraising has been unimpressive…. Marco Rubio, by contrast, is a dynamic public speaker and gutsy political risk-taker…. And, crucially, Rubio has the exact same policy positions as Bush.”
— Wall Street Journal, “Facebook restrictions on user data cast a long shadow,” by Deepa Seetharaman and Elizabeth Dwoskin: “Dozens of startups that had been using Facebook data have shut down, been acquired or overhauled their businesses. Political consultants are racing to find new ways to tap voters’ social connections ahead of the 2016 presidential election…. The new rules reflect Facebook’s shifting attitude toward third parties using its data, considered one of the world’s richest sources of information on human relationships…. Without a window into friend networks, apps and other businesses lose a key channel for growth, while users may find their networks less useful for landing a job or a date.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Cruz blames Obama for the way Carson talked about Muslims. From Talking Points Memo: “On Fox News, Cruz defended Carson…. ‘The broader question, and what I think Ben was trying to get at, is: what are the consequences in the last six and a half years of the Obama presidency?’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Half in U.S. say government is an immediate threat. From Gallup: “Almost half of Americans, 49%, say the federal government poses ‘an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens,’ similar to what was found in previous surveys conducted over the last five years. When this question was first asked in 2003, less than a third of Americans held this attitude…. The remarkable finding about these attitudes is how much they reflect apparent antipathy toward the party controlling the White House, rather than being a purely fundamental or fixed philosophical attitude about government.”
— Yom Kippur begins at sunset.
— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Donald Trump appears on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. In Iowa, Hillary meets with the Des Moines Register editorial board and attends a community forum in Des Moines while Jeb makes stops in Cedar Falls, Gladbrook and Cedar Rapids. In S.C., Carly Fiorina attends a national security forum at the Citadel in Charleston and a town hall in Myrtle Beach, while Mike Huckabee makes stops in Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Whitmire and Newberry. Ben Carson holds rallies in Sharonville and Cedarville, Ohio, while Lindsey Graham meets voters in Manchester, N.H. Rick Santorum also campaigns in Des Moines and Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday.
— On the Hill: The Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 36, the 20-week abortion ban. At 11 a.m., the chamber votes on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill. Later, senators are expected to vote a second time on a similar measure for H.R. 2685, the defense appropriations bill. The House meets in pro forma session at 4 p.m.
— At the White House: President Obama, Vice President Biden and their wives greet Pope Francis upon his arrival at Andrew Air Force Base at 4 p.m. Earlier in the day, Biden speaks at the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ National HBCU Week annual conference at the Washington Marriott.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I look forward to Governor Walker supporting my campaign when I am the Republican nominee,” Donald Trump said following Walker’s exit from the race, per Breitbart News.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— “Monday’s gloom will resume this morning with a cloudy canopy and scattered light showers or drizzle…. The situation slowly starts to clear this afternoon into tonight before we launch into some very nice and warm days tomorrow into Thursday morning,” forecasts Capital Weather Gang.
— The pope arrives during the evening rush hour. Here’s a guide to road closures and Metro schedules. The bottom line: walk if you can. Here’s a handy rundown of the best places to see Francis while he’s in Washington.
— The Nationals-Orioles game got rained out and postponed until Thursday at 4 p.m.
— Metro has reached a deal with four mobile carriers to have full cell service across the system by the end of the decade.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
By far, this is the best recap out there. Watch key moments of the second Republican debate, as reenacted by kids (using verbatim quotes) here. Definitely worth the click:
John Kasich grooved to “Shut Up and Dance” during a campaign rally in Michigan (the humanizing video was posted by the liberal group following him with a tracker):
Donald Trump participated in a live Twitter chat (#asktrump) at the company’s headquarters in New York. Asked about the key to success in business, he said it is all about never quitting: “Never, ever give up.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2015
Lady Gaga has released a powerful video to shine light on the campus rape epidemic. Watch here.