The Man Who Would Have Been President (In June, 2015): Scott Walker Drops Out
If you are a follower of this blog, you will have watched as Scott Walker went from the top of the power rankings to an “also ran.” Today, the Wisconsin Governor will suspend his Presidential ambitions and leave the campaign trail to the other 15 declared candidates.
There was no “silver bullet gaffe” that caused Walker’s campaign to collapse. Rather, this was the constant, slow, deflation of a prematurely-pumped-up candidacy. Walker was the frontrunner before we even knew who else was going to be in the race. Winning two terms as Governor of Wisconsin and a contentions recall election under the national spotlight, Republicans saw Walker as being a tested and known quantity who had the electoral chops to beat a Democrat in the general election.
However, the best laid plans of Wisconsin strategists today came to naught as Walker received some of the worst news that he could have heard on the campaign trail: the most recent polls have him right at 0%. For the candidate who was running the show in Iowa less than two months ago, this drop is head-spinning.
Nevertheless, after two lackluster debate performances where Walker was unable to differentiate himself from many of the other candidates on the stage, Walker was left to try to sell his message in a media climate that is completely dominated by real estate mogul Donald Trump and whatever controversy is going on in that particular week.
Walker’s political skills were questionable at best even when he was the, then undeclared, frontrunner in the campaign. Punting on questions about science and refusing to take stances on easy foreign policy concerns, many politics-watchers said that, maybe, given time, he could develop into a real leader of the pack. That opportunity never materialized. Rather, in order to get attention, Walker had to play in the “Trump Media” and advocate for building a wall on the Canadian border just to get some cameras on him during the month of August.
While Walker’s fall was imminent after last week’s debate, it further underscores the savvy politics of Marco Rubio and John Kasich who have decided to weather the Trump storm by battening down the hatches and hoping that it will blow over. Walker, at the forefront of the race, was not so lucky.
Unlike Rick Perry’s obviously inevitable departure, most poll-watchers would not have predicted a Walker collapse if they had been asked only a few weeks ago. For good or ill, the winnowing fan of Donald Trump’s masterful media control has snuffed out whatever potential there was in the two-term Wisconsin Governor.