Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) loaded for…Ted Cruz. Speaking a few minutes after the Texas Senator, Governor Walker responded to Cruz’s riff about picking a candidate “who stood up and fought” by declaring, “[voters] don’t want someone to fight for the sake of fighting, they want someone who will fight and win.”
There was a lot of affection for the Governor among this crowd. He reprised his stage pacing, scriptless presentation which won over so many at the Iowa Freedom Conference. In terms of style points, Senator Cruz and Governor Walker are comparable in their ability to command the stage, with Walker a bit softer-edged and folksier.
As in Iowa, and contrary to the social issues truce with which Walker flirted, he unambiguously declared “we defunded Planned Parenthood [in Wisconsin] and signed pro-life legislation,” to rousing applause, the loudest of his speech.
Walker’s speech was heavy on foreign policy, and foreign policy failures were the core of his indictment of the President. On the economy, he recited a legacy of tax-cutting accomplishments, “fighting and winning for the hard working taxpayer.”
But he left tax cutting as an end in itself, rather than as part of an economic growth strategy. Like the other speakers before him, Walker did not use the occasion to lay out a narrative on what went wrong in the recession of 2007-08, and how we can move forward in a way that will raise the standard of living of the average middle class family. When it comes to a winning Republican economic formulation, we’re still waiting for Godot.
Of course, no one speaking here at CPAC is officially running for President. And there’s no question that Walker’s litany of policy accomplishments is impressive. “If we can do it in Wisconsin,” he closed, “we can do it across America.”
Steve Wagner is the founder and president of QEV Analytics, a Washington DC -based public opinion research firm.