Scott Walker Fundraiser

Gov. Scott Walker delivers an address at a fundraising event for the Iowa GOP on Thursday in West Des Moines, Iowa.

CHARLIE LITCHFIELD/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Scott Walker’s unofficial, unannounced presidential bid is getting more traction as observers laud his political cred, his fundraising prowess and his down-home style.

And after his appearances at GOP events in Stamford, Conn., and New York last week, he hit a home run in a well-received speech to the Polk County Republicans in West Des Moines, Iowa, last week. 

Now he’s lined up another gig: On Aug. 23 he’ll be delivering the keynote speech at the Alabama Republican Party’s summer dinner in Montgomery.

In announcing the engagement, the Alabama GOP cited Walker’s victory over pro-union forces in last year's failed recall effort, his support of a voter ID law, his turning away of federal "Obamacare" funds and his pro-life, traditional marriage principles. The ALGOP billed Walker and his wife, Tonette, as "strong conservative Christians with 'Alabama Values' and not ashamed of it."  

"Governor Walker is in great demand as people across the country begin thinking about who they would like as the Republican presidential candidate in 2016," gushed ALGOP  "We are so very fortunate to be able to secure Governor Walker for our summer dinner."

The announcement comes in the midst of a shower of GOP praise for Walker's speech in Iowa, where commentators said he appeared stately and optimistic, touting his accomplishments in Wisconsin in the context of national politics, as well as his childhood Iowa connection.

“Gov. Walker has a lot going for him and he'd be a very appealing candidate in a state like Iowa for the caucuses,” says Iowa GOP kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats in The Hill. “Not only is he right on a lot of issues, he's been very bold and courageous on his leadership on a lot of those issues. And being a neighbor to Iowa doesn't guarantee you success but it certainly doesn't hurt.”  

But to get to the presidency, Walker still has to win reelection in Wisconsin, where as this Five Thirty Eight blog ranking shows, his approval rating is hovering at 50 percent. The post also makes the case that governors with high approval ratings in swing states or states that don't typically elect members of their party (Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey being a prime example), might be seen as having the needed crossover appeal to win nationwide.

Nevertheless, as Jonathon Tobin notes in Commentary, Walker's foray into Iowa was a springboard onto the national stage. While he's been there before, this time he's not the embattled governor he was last year; he's the embodiment of conservative success.

"Anyone who has heard the way Republicans react whenever Walker’s name is mentioned or he appears knows that there is no figure in the party that has a tighter grip on the affections of its grass roots," writes Tobin. "While the big guns blaze away at each other on the cable news stations, it’s important to remember that if Walker runs, he could be a real factor in 2016 and not just in Iowa."  

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.

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