Scott Walker and his campaign team must have had Wednesday night’s GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library circled on the calendar ever since he turned in a decidedly forgettable effort at the first gathering of 2016 candidates back in August.
Amid his sliding poll numbers — he fell from 10 percent to 2 percent over the past month in one survey — the debate offered Walker a perfect chance to counter the “he’s fading” narrative that had taken hold in the race.
Which makes his flat and largely nonexistent performance all the more troubling for him. Despite a relatively central location among the top candidates (next to Jeb Bush, two podiums down from front-runner Donald Trump), the Wisconsin governor struggled to stand out. His best line — “We don’t need an apprentice in the White House. We have one right now” — came in the debate’s first minutes, after which Walker seemed to shrink from the stage. He had the least screen time of any candidate.
In the wake of the debate came whispers that Walker needed to do something drastic — like jettison members of his senior staff — to show that he could reverse course. He insisted he needed to do no such thing (always the kiss of death) and said no one except reporters had asked him about it. Nevertheless, he pulled back from most early-voting states Thursday and vowed to focus on Iowa.
Scott Walker, for falling down rather than breaking through, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Each week, Chris Cillizza awards the worst week in Washington to an inhabitant of Planet Beltway who stands out for all the wrong reasons. You can check out previous winners or e-mail Cillizza with candidates. You can also read more from Outlook and follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter.