Politics

November 22, 2013

Scott Walker’s supporters see him as presidential material

The Wisconsin governor is positioning himself to be part of the mix for 2016, when Republicans say a governor should run.

By Charles Babington
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Many Republican activists say they want a governor to be their next presidential nominee, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to climb into the 2016 conversation.

2011 Associated Press File Photo

On Friday, Walker didn’t join Republicans in condemning Democrats for changing rules to end filibusters of presidential appointees, excluding Supreme Court nominees. At the state and federal level, “deference should be given to the chief executive” trying to staff the government, Walker told reporters at a Washington breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. He said federal judges, who receive lifetime appointments, might deserve more scrutiny than executive branch employees.

Walker takes a more conservative stand on some issues than do fellow Republican governors such as Christie and Kasich. Unlike them, Walker refused to expand Medicaid in his state with new federal funds under President Barack Obama’s new health care law. Democrats accused him of putting political ambition above the best interests of low-income Wisconsin residents.

“Accepting Medicaid expansion through Obamacare would be an anathema to Walker’s tea party base and his corporate backers,” said the liberal Daily Kos website.

Walker joined many other governors in criticizing congressional Republicans who prompted a 16-day government shutdown last month in a failed bid to block the Affordable Care Act. Chief among them was Cruz, who establishment Republicans fear will appeal to hard-line conservatives in Republican primaries but not to general election voters in November 2016.

Campaign strategists say Walker is trying to carve a middle path between Christie’s moderation and Cruz’s staunchly right positions.

Walker “is best positioned to unite the conservative and establishment wings,” said Texas-based consultant Matt Mackowiak. “Winning victories over public unions and beating back a recall attempt,” he said, can help Walker build a national image for conservative voters.

At least one liberal group is taking note of Walker. Progressives United is criticizing his record and seeking donations “to stop his political career dead in its tracks.”

Even Walker’s biggest fans note that the 2016 election is far off, and any number of unforeseen events can boost or doom potential candidacies.

Christie planted himself in the middle of Republican speculation by winning two terms in a state that hasn’t backed a Republican presidential nominee since 1988. Walker, several other governors and a few members of Congress will see if they can join him.

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