By Bill Kaplan
National and state media report Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is going to announce officially on July 13 that he is running for the GOP presidential nomination. My birthday. And, what a present! However, the all-but-declared Walker has been openly running for months. The would-be president has been absent from Wisconsin for so long that his photo should be on milk cartons.
There have been numerous campaign visits to Iowa (first presidential nomination contest), foreign policy excursions abroad and crisscrossing the nation to meet with GOP billionaire donors. Walker has even brought super-rich supporters to campaign dinners at the Madison Edgewater Hotel.
It has paid off. The Washington Post reports: "Walker off to a $20 million jump-start." And, polls show Walker is the front-runner in the Iowa GOP caucus and number two nationally among the plethora of GOP candidates. However, success has given way to national press scrutiny and sharp criticism from conservatives.
• Nationally syndicated columnist Michael Gerson said: "When Scott Walker pronounced himself agnostic about President Obama's patriotism and Christian faith, it must have seemed like a clever formulation....Walker quickly found his pitch unequal to the presidential big leagues";
• Ronald Reagan biographer Lou Cannon contradicted Walker's musings on Reagan as "caricatures", saying Reagan "never made his bones on trying to break the back of labor the way Walker has. Walker is borrowing from Reagan's mystique more than any other Republican eyeing the presidency, but Ronald Reagan he ain't";
• Washington Post reporters Jenna Johnson and Sean Sullivan said: Walker "has struggled for months to square his position on immigration reform. Two years ago, he was for granting citizenship for undocumented immigrants. This year he was against it. But then came reports he was privately for it, so he declared that he really was against it." (flip-flop);
• Washington Post conservative columnist and blogger Jennifer Rubin had harsh words for Walker's opposition to the Supreme Court decision affirming same-sex marriage: "But today, he genuflected to social conservatives, suggesting an (unattainable) constitutional amendment is the way to go...Walker went for the base-pleasing play and alarmist tone";
• Finally, Right Wisconsin conservative blogger Jerry Bader said: "Wrong answer, Gov. Walker: The Confederate flag should go." Walker belatedly sent a tweet supporting the national outcry against the flag. Btw, Walker has been similarly reticent about condemning GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's racist rant against Mexican immigrants.
Leading from behind. Again.
Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 - 2009