Walker’s backers see a campaign discombobulated by Trump’s booming popularity and by his provocative language on immigration, China and other issues. They see in Walker a candidate who -- in contrast to the discipline he showed in state races -- continues to commit unforced errors, either out of lack of preparation or in an attempt to grab for part of the flamboyant businessman’s following.In the latter category are confused statements about immigration -- most recently, he's suggested that we might need a wall on the U.S.-Canada border.
Yeah, he's trying too hard. He's making mistakes. But he'd be struggling even if he were running a flawless campaign.
Walker was supposed to be Trump. Walker was the guy who was going to be smite all the people right-wingers hate. That's what he told them in that January speech in Iowa, the one that, as National Review's Michael Barone wrote at the time, catapulted him into the top tier:
Many activists in the crowd, but by no means all Iowa Republicans, knew that he had battled the public-employee unions in Wisconsin -- and that the Left, which prides itself on compassion and civility -- responded with riots and death threats and a June 2012 recall election. Walker won that contest as he had in 2010 and did again in 2014: three elections in four years in a state that has voted Democratic for president since 1988.Walker was going to crush unions, stop doling out so much government money to them, and get liberals squealing -- he knew how to beat us in elections. Wow! That's slaying a lot of enemies! But Trump has the base believing he can slay all the enemies:
Walker had his applause lines down pat: We celebrate the Fourth of July, not the 15th of April; the safety net should be not a hammock but a trampoline. His emphasis was almost entirely on economic issues, but laced through his text were references that sounded offhand and authentic to family and faith.
This is incredible. NSA, BLM, GLBT, DEA, Iran. Oh my god pic.twitter.com/CLMFvjIDcq— Jeff Stalin Bezos (@onekade) August 28, 2015
Walker won three elections and hates everyone the base hates -- but Trump seems to hate everyone the base hates and he's a billionaire, which, to the base, means he has the necessary executive experience to do anything he wants to.
Walker isn't a D.C. politician, but Trump isn't a politician at all -- and Trump has now made GOP voters believe they can reject politics altogether in this election. That's helping Ben Carson to rise in the polls as well. Walker was supposed to be the Jesus-loving, soft-spoken Boy Scout who smites all the enemies with his righteous wrath, but voters who like the soft-spoken and God-bothering parts of that formula are gravitating toward Carson, while fans of pure smiting love Trump, who promises to do nothing but smite.
If Walker were what voters really wanted, he'd survive his campaign's awkward moments -- the multiple answers on the question of birthright citizenship, the claim that beating unions means he can beat ISIS. (When Trump claims he can crush ISIS, isn't he also saying you can count on him to triumph because in the past he's bested some foes in stateside wars of wills that are completely unlike geostrategy? And don't the voters nevertheless find him completely plausible?)
Voters liked Walker because he seemed like the best they could do. But now, with Trump (and Carson) they think they can destroy politics altogether. Walker just can't compete.
(Tweet via Paul Canning.)