Over at GQ, Jason Zengerle has an interesting take on how Donald Trump’s ascendance in the Republican presidential primary has doomed the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker.
Indeed, no GOP presidential candidate has been more negatively affected by Trump’s rise than Walker, who emerged early this year as the man most likely to beat Jeb Bush. And while Bush’s star has certainly faded since then, Walker’s has fallen even further. After leading the polls for six months in Iowa—a state he has to win—Walker now trails not only Trump there but Ben Carson as well. He’s suffered a similar slip in New Hampshire, where he’s now in fourth place—the same position he holds in the RCP average of national polls. Last week, according to The Washington Post, Walker took the drastic step of reassuring his donors that he was essentially rebooting his campaign. The reassurances were apparently insufficient for one of Walker’s biggest financial backers, Anthony Scaramucci, who, The Wall Street Journal reports, met with Trump on Monday. (Scaramucci told the Journal that he intends to stick with Walker; Trump told the Journal that Scaramucci wants to switch horses.)
That Trump’s rise has come at the same time as Walker’s fall is partly attributable to the fact that, to some extent, they’re running in the same lane—trying to win over the GOP’s conservative base; and also, as Chris Cillizza argues, that Walker is trying to appeal to both movement and establishment conservatives simultaneously. But Trump has done more than just steal like-minded potential voters (and donors) from Walker; he’s exposed just what a weak candidate Walker actually is.
Even before his birthright botch, Walker had executed what a former aide termed an “Olympics-quality flip-flop” on immigration—abandoning his past support for providing undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship and even endorsing new limits on legal immigration. But, in the same breath that he was making this very public reversal in the hope of winning over conservative voters, he was, according to The Wall Street Journal, privately reassuring immigration-friendly establishment Republicans that he hadn’t changed his views. What’s more, Walker didn’t limit his flip-flops to immigration: He staked out new, more conservative positions on everything from abortion to Common Core; as well as a more Iowa-friendly stance on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
These sorts of policy reversals underscore the small-time, chintzy nature of Walker’s campaign.