The Corner

Walker Hires Foreign, Domestic Policy Leads

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker took another step toward a White House bid, hiring Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Mike Gallagher and DCI Group director and Capitol Hill veteran Kristin Jackson to lead his foreign- and domestic-policy teams, respectively. In that role, Gallagher will serve as the day-to-day lead on all foreign-policy issues, working to bring outside experts before the governor for briefings and to develop the governor’s foreign-policy platform. Jackson will do the same on the domestic-policy front. 

A spokeswoman for Our American Revival, Walker’s political-action committee and campaign in waiting, confirmed the hires. 

Gallagher, 30, is a Princeton University graduate who spent seven years in the Marine Corps. He deployed to Iraq’s Al Anbar province twice, where he worked as a counterintelligence officer and served as a member of the CENTCOM assessment team gathered by General David Petraeus, which conducted a wide-ranging analysis of American military strategy in the Middle East and Central Asia. He also happens to be a native of Green Bay, Wis. 

Gallagher has worked with the John Hay Initiative, a group of former Romney foreign-policy advisers who are coordinating and conducting briefings for potential presidential contenders, as a part of its working group on the Middle East. 

Eric Edelman, a member of the John Hay Initiative who served as the Defense Department’s top policy official in the George W. Bush administration, called Gallagher “the perfect sort of person” for the job. 

As governor of Wisconsin, Walker’s views on foreign affairs have remained largely undefined; rather than homing in on particulars he has spoken instead in broad generalities about the need for a muscular, more internationalist foreign policy that includes strong support for Israel. Gallagher’s job will be to round out his worldview and build a team that can articulate a specific foreign-policy vision as he gets further along in the primary process.

“He hasn’t had a chance to speak to foreign-policy issues yet,” Edelman says. “I think hiring Mike is a really good sign.” 

News of Gallagher’s hire comes as former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday, in remarks at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, attempted to differentiate his foreign-policy views from those of his father, former president George H.W. Bush, and his brother, former president George W. Bush. Though Bush pledged to be guided by “my own thinking and my own experiences,” he spoke in general terms about the importance of American power in a way that few Republicans could disagree with.

The list of supporters and advisers he unveiled before his speech, a hodgepodge of former administration officials who served for his father and his brother, don’t offer much indication of a unique foreign-policy vision yet, either. Despite the movement on both campaigns, this is likely to be the state of affairs for some time. 


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