Atop years of management experience, a glistening conservative-reform record, and eleven consecutive victories for county and state offices among reliably Democratic voters, Governor Scott Walker (R., Wis.) offers Republicans this secret weapon: a battle-tested executive who is immune to the Richie Rich caricature that Democrats hurl at GOP nominees. Especially opposite Hillary Clinton, Walker — not Jeb Bush — is fully vaccinated against the Left’s class-warfare virus.
Democrats stereotype the Republican party as the natural habitat of rich old white guys. Yes, Walker is a white guy. However, being Caucasian is not a choice, and fair-minded liberals would forgive him that. It should help that Walker secured ever-higher reelection margins as executive in Milwaukee County. Its 27 percent black population is twice that of the nation.
Walker would be age 49 on inauguration. Jeb would be 63. Hillary would be 69. The “cranky geezer” rap that helped sink John McCain would miss Walker, especially beside Hillary, who clearly is no spring hen.
As for “rich,” the late governor Ann Richards (D., Texas) famously slammed Poppa Bush. “Poor George. He can’t help it,” she told the 1988 Democratic National Convention. “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” This was a double-barreled blast at Bush’s patrician (Kennebunkport) rotos and his bizarre verbal pratfalls.
More recently, Democrats hammered Mitt Romney as a near-billionaire who stashed his ill-gotten gains overseas, owned a mansion with an elevator in the garage, and likely wore a top hat to bed.
Romney barely challenged these charges, and they stuck. In exit polls, Romney beat Obama on vision, values, and leadership. However, on “cares about people like me,” Romney won 18 percent. Obama, 81.
GOP primary voters do not want a rerun of this sad tale. John Ellis Bush is the father of Texas land commissioner George P. Bush, brother of President George W. Bush, son of President George H. W. Bush, and grandson of former U.S. senator Prescott Bush (R., Conn.). Jeb is better suited to the House of Lords than the White House. Democrats would pound him as a dauphin whose private-equity income barely conceals his sense of entitlement. Despite Hillary’s marital ties to power, Democrats likely would handcuff Jeb to the twin anvils of anti-elitism and anti-monarchism. Down, down, down he would go.
Walker, conversely, would offer the common touch compared with Clinton. His father was a Baptist minister. His mother worked part-time as a clothing-store bookkeeper. “We didn’t realize it until later in life,” Walker has said, “but we were poor.” They had no TV until his father bought a black-and-white set in 1976.
Walker now lives modestly on his gubernatorial salary. As Tim Alberta observed in the National Journal (June 21), “He mows the lawn of the small, nondescript home he still owns a few miles outside Milwaukee wearing jean shorts and torn-up Nikes.” Wowed by Walker’s game-changing speech to the Freedom Summit in Des Moines on January 24, columnist Michael Barone noted that “He impressed Iowans by telling how he stuffs his pockets with coupons to buy a shirt at low-price (and Wisconsin-based) Kohl’s.”
In contrast, laughter erupted when Hillary said she and Bill were “dead broke” before they departed the White House, purchased two huge homes, scored six-figure lecture fees, and pocketed $2.8 million in royalties for her memoirs. She now commands $300,000 per appearance and demands speech-related luxuries that smack of aristocracy (e.g., specific chairs and pillows onstage, presidential hotel suites, and private Gulfstream G450 jets — or larger).
In this context, Walker’s lack of a college degree could be an asset. According to the Census Bureau, 81 percent of adults over 18 are diploma-free. Exit polls indicate that 71 percent of voters in the November 2012 elections shared Walker’s paucity of parchment. This makes Walker more typically American than either Hillary (Wellesley College, Yale Law School) or Jeb (University of Texas at Austin).
Walker is a solid, courageous conservative who successfully has run county and state governments. He cannot be smeared by Democrats as a wealthy, spoiled brat. Republicans should reject Jeb and the House of Bush, rally around Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Way, and then unleash him on the Duchess of Chappaqua.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.