The Frontrunner, On Paper

U.S. Governors Attend Summit On Jobs At U.S. Chamber Of Commerce

Nate Cohn talks up Scott Walker:

Scott Walker, the battle-hardened governor of Wisconsin, is the candidate that the factional candidates should fear. Not only does he seem poised to run—he released a book last week—but he possesses the tools and positions necessary to unite the traditional Republican coalition and marginalize its discontents. Walker has the irreproachable conservative credentials necessary to appease the Tea Party, and he speaks the language of the religious right. But he has the tone, temperament, and record of a capable and responsible establishment figure. That, combined with Walker’s record as a reformist union-buster, will appeal to the party’s donor base and appease the influential business wing. Walker’s experience as an effective but conservative blue state governor makes him a credible presidential candidate, not just a vessel for the conservative message. Equally important, his history of having faced down organized labor and beaten back a liberal recall effort is much more consistent with the sentiment of the modern Republican Party than Jeb Bush’s compassionate conservatism.

Altogether, Walker has the assets to build the broad establishment support necessary for the fundraising, media attention, and organization to win the nomination. He could be a voter or a donor’s first choice, not just a compromise candidate.

But he has a charisma and charm deficit of almost comic proportions. Larison rolls his eyes at the speculation:

Like Pawlenty, Walker is being touted as a serious consensus candidate for Republicans because he doesn’t seem to have much competition for the role, and he is being elevated to top-tier status long before he deserves to be almost solely on the grounds that he was elected in a traditionally Democratic state. Unlike Pawlenty, he cannot yet even boast of being re-elected in such a state. Pawlenty’s candidacy famously had no discernible rationale except that his name wasn’t Romney, but at the moment a Walker candidacy would seem to have even less of a reason to exist. The argument for Pawlenty was that he would be able to combine his working-class background and evangelical Christianity with a quasi-populist agenda that would separate him from the rest of the field, but as we discovered this was never a very good argument. The argument for Walker is even less compelling, and it amounts to little more than the fact that he isn’t any of the other likely candidates.

Update from a reader:

And then there’s this, which honestly I think is a little overblown, but still truly ham-handed and tone-deaf:

The War On Christmas may actually be happening this year, but it’s being waged by an unlikely culprit: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). Last week, Walker’s campaign sent an email encouraging supporters not to buy gifts for their children and to use that money instead to support his reelection effort. “Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next Holiday Season, help give your children the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of,” the email read. [Here] is the email in full.

(Photo: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker listens during the 2011 Governors Summit of U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC on June 20, 2011. By Alex Wong/Getty Images)