While most GOP presidential candidates rush to take potshots at surprise frontrunner Donald Trump, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker appears to be handling the real-estate-mogul-turned-presidential-candidate with an abundance of caution.
“Donald Trump can speak for himself,” Walker said in Iowa today when asked to explain Trump’s meteoric rise. “I’m going to answer questions about my positions, not Donald Trump’s or Jeb Bush’s or Marco Rubio’s or anyone else’s out there.”
Ted Cruz has been the only high-profile GOP presidential contender to openly embrace Trump’s controversial entry into the race so far. Other Republican candidates have come out swinging against the celebrity businessman’s firebrand rhetoric. Former Texas governor Rick Perry called it “a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.” South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham said Trump was a “wrecking ball” for the Republican Party. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Trump’s controversial comments on immigration were “not accurate,” and Florida senator Marco Rubio called them “offensive” and “divisive.”
But even after Trump relegated Walker to second-place in a new national Fox News poll on Thursday, the Wisconsin governor still wouldn’t budge. When asked why he wouldn’t join other candidates in condemning Trump, Walker still wouldn’t comment. “You’re going to ask me again, I’ll give you the same answer 50 more times,” he said, when asked why he wouldn’t join other candidates in condemning Trump. “So if you want to waste your time on that question, go ahead.”
#related#Though Walker remains tight-lipped about Trump, his reticence has not been reciprocated. “He has got a lot of problems in Wisconsin,” Trump said about Walker in June. “You know, Wisconsin has got tremendous problems.”
Walker did, however, comment on the Fox News poll that showed him trailing Trump. “You know, these national polls — not just him, but for others — a lot of it’s based on name ID,” he said. “To me, what matters is, ultimately, what polls say in states like Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Nevada, and other early primary, caucus states out there. That’s the real difference.”
The latest RealClearPolitics polling gives Walker an 8-point-lead against his Republican rivals in Iowa. The Wisconsin governor kicked off a three-day tour across the state in Davenport, Iowa on Friday morning, promising to do “a full Grassley” by hitting all 99 of the state’s counties before the first-in the-nation January caucus.
— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review.