The emergency meeting that led Walker to quit – By SHANE GOLDMACHER and ALEX ISENSTADT 09/22/15, 01:13 AM EDT

The governor left his closest supporters in the dark, even his biggest financial backers.



It’s almost always bad news when a candidate’s spouse calls an emergency meeting.

But that’s what happened late last week when Scott Walker’s wife, Tonette, and his campaign chairman, Mike Grebe, reached out to a small number of longtime Walker aides and summoned them to the governor’s mansion on Monday morning.

The topic was obvious: the future of Walker’s struggling presidential campaign.

Walker had just limped out of a disappointing second presidential debate. The governor had spent weeks preparing for the showdown, knowing his political life depended on it. He’d practiced giving punchier answers and making sure to use up all his allotted time.

But the reviews had been brutal. Donors were grousing, and money was drying up. It was a painful turn for Walker, who had quickly vaulted to the top of the Iowa polls, powered by a fiery January speech in Des Moines, only to drop precipitously in the summer amid Donald Trump’s rise. He had gone from frontrunner to also-ran in a matter of months.

So on Monday morning, the group of advisers – including veteran Walker hands John Hiller, Bill Eisner, Ed Goeas, and Jim Villa – huddled with Scott and Tonette Walker. The top of the agenda, according to campaign sources: polling and fundraising. And the numbers were bad.

Shortly after the meeting wrapped, Walker arrived at his decision: He was out. It was a shocking and sudden move that blindsided many of Walker’s closest allies, threw the power of super PACs into doubt, and opened opportunities for rivals to pick up patrons, staff, and supporters.

The seeds of Walker’s withdrawal had been planted five nights earlier in Simi Valley, when Walker spoke for fewer minutes than any other candidate on the debate stage. Instead of a breakout performance, the closet thing he had to a signature moment came as Carly Fiorina finished her impassioned answer on Planned Parenthood. Walker lifted his finger, as if to interject. He wasn’t called upon. He would speak only once in the next 30 minutes.


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Walker sinks despite anti-union message – By BRIAN MAHONEY 09/14/15, 07:58 PM EDT

Scott Walker became famous for breaking the unions in Wisconsin. But for GOP voters, the issue no longer resonates as it once did.


Scott Walker is doubling down on his anti-union message. But GOP voters don’t seem to be listening.

Walker traveled to union-friendly Las Vegas Monday to inveigh against “big-government union bosses.” He pledged elimination of the National Labor Relations Board. He promised a national “right to work” law freeing workers from mandatory payments to unions that bargain collectively on their behalf. And he said he’d block President Barack Obama’s proposal to expand overtime eligibility to 5 million new workers

“Collective bargaining is not a right,” Walker said. “It is an expensive entitlement.” He pledged “to wreak havoc on Washington.”

For Walker it may be a last stand as his support tumbles from double digits as recently as July to a dismal 2 percent, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday. Walker’s presidential campaign is premised in a large part on the idea that GOP primary voters will flock to a candidate willing to confront and diminish the power of organized labor. Walker aides say his anti-union platform is designed to portray the Wisconsin governor as a politician who can easily translate his statewide successes to the federal government. “He has this record of results,” a senior Walker aide said. “We’re taking that record of results and building on them and showing the American people what it could look like at the national level.”

But one of 2016’s biggest surprises is that the anti-union message isn’t selling, either for Walker or for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another GOP candidate who’s built much of his campaign around his willingness to face down union bosses. Unions don’t seem to loom especially large as a problem to rank-and-file Republican voters. Trump’s economic populism may also be undermining the anti-union message. And with the economy finally recovered from the Great Recession, public rancor against organized labor has diminished.


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Scott Walker’s rise fueled by confrontations with liberal institutions – by Naureen Khan August 21, 2015 5:00AM ET

Critics say GOP hopeful has made legislative moves in Wisconsin in service of his presidential ambitions

MADISON, Wis. — On the pristinely manicured grounds of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a guiding principle has informed the instruction of hundreds of thousands of students for over a century.

The Wisconsin idea, a lofty principle first articulated in 1904 by a former university president and later incorporated into the university’s mission statement, holds that the purpose of the university is to improve the lives of people in the state through public service and the continual search for knowledge in the classroom and beyond.

But earlier this year, as Republican Gov. Scott Walker was preparing to launch his presidential campaign, the Wisconsin idea and the whole of University of Wisconsin system found itself in his crosshairs.

In addition to a proposed cut of $300 million and the weakening of tenure protections for professors then enshrined in state statute, early drafts of the state budget nixed the Wisconsin idea and held instead that the mission of the state’s public higher education system was to “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

Facing a fierce and immediate backlash that crossed party lines, Walker backed away from the change, attributing it to a “drafting error” and miscommunication among his staffers. Emails later obtained by The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel showed  that university administrators had registered their objections to the alteration and been rebuffed.

In the final budget, which was passed a day before Walker launched his presidential campaign in July, the Wisconsin idea was restored. Still, $250 million in cuts remained, and tenure protections were stricken from state law and turned over to the purview of the Board of Regents, appointed by the governor.

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Rick Perry excluded from Republican debate – BBC News August 5 2015

Rick Perry

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, is not among the 10 Republicans running for president who will take part in the first primetime TV debate.

Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker will take the stage in Cleveland on Thursday night with seven rivals.

Fox News selected the 10 most popular Republicans based on five national polls, excluding Mr Perry and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Those two and five other candidates will take part in an earlier debate.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum reacted angrily to his omission.

“The idea that they have left out the runner-up for the 2012 nomination [Santorum], the former four-term governor of Texas [Perry], the governor of Louisiana [Bobby Jindal], the first female Fortune 50 CEO [Carly Fiorina], and the 3-term Senator from South Carolina [Graham] due to polling seven months before a single vote is cast is preposterous,” his spokesman said.

In contrast, Mr Perry tweeted that he was looking forward to being on Fox at 5pm for “a serious exchange of ideas and positive solutions to get America back on track”.

The main debate takes place four hours later at 9pm local time (01:00 GMT).

All eyes will be on hotel tycoon Mr Trump, who leads the polls and has made headlines with outspoken r`emarks about many of his rivals.


The Republican top 10

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Scott Walker in Iowa: Relentlessly on message – By KATIE GLUECK 7/19/15 6:16 PM EDT Updated 7/19/15 8:10 PM EDT

During his three-day swing across the state, the Wisconsin governor showed the kind of discipline and caution most candidates can only dream of.

Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a fundraising event for Rep. Pat Grassley at the PIPAC Centre on the Lake Sunday, July 19, 2015, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Matthew Putney/The Courier via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The outfits were nearly identical, the speeches repeated almost verbatim and even the intonations rarely varied. Over the course of Scott Walker’s three-day Winnebago trip across Iowa, the Wisconsin governor stumped with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker, exhibiting the kind of discipline that most candidates can only dream of.

In his first days as a presidential candidate in the state where he’s leading in the polls, Walker showed the consistency and attention to detail that propelled him to 12 victories back home — including three statewide wins. He sported the same campaign trail uniform (a blue-and-white checked, collared shirt, jeans and belt), and used the same prop (a rumpled dollar bill pulled from his pocket). He told the same anecdote about his thriftiness that’s become his signature (his shopping habits at retailer Kohl’s) and quoted whole paragraphs of his announcement speech from last Monday, almost word for word.

“I’m for high standards,” he said of his education stance at several stops, sweeping his arm upwards to accentuate his point. But standards should be set at the local level, he would follow up, theatrically lowering his arm for emphasis.

Even by presidential campaign trail standards, where the intense media scrutiny pushes candidates to adopt a more buttoned-up approach and White House hopefuls strive to hew closely to message, Walker stands out. On several occasions, when he used a slightly different word at one stop than he had at the previous appearance, he paused and then corrected himself.

In Cedar Rapids, when a voter asked him Friday during a town hall about what he would do to keep jobs in Iowa, Walker took that as an opportunity to dive into his five-point economic plan, making a few connections between Obamacare and her question, but generally sticking to a script that he used everywhere else.


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Scott Walker’s Revolt Back Home – By JR ROSS June 08, 2015

The governor’s presidential maneuvering is wearing thin in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has often said the biggest lesson he learned during his fight over stripping public employees of most collective bargaining powers is that he should have spent more time selling it to the Wisconsin public before dropping the plan on the state Capitol. But Wisconsin lawmakers haven’t seen Walker sell his controversial budget from the bully pulpit much these days.

As Walker prepares for a presidential run, he is increasingly speaking to national audience rather than a Wisconsin one. Instead of crisscrossing Wisconsin to get his budget passed, Walker’s calendar is filling up with trips to swing states, like his visit last weekend to Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride,” a motorcycle-themed political fundraiser.

“There is a reason why we take a day off the celebrate the Fourth of July and not the 15th of April, because in America we celebrate our independence from the government not our dependence on it,” Walker said to cheers during his brief speech at Ernst’s event. Walker’s small government rhetoric is getting a warm reception in Iowa, where he leads the presidential field by more then seven points.

In Wisconsin, however, GOP state lawmakers aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about an agenda some see as geared more toward what plays well at those out-of-state stops than what’s best for the people back home. While Walker chatted up Iowans from the seat of his Harley-Davidson last weekend, his fellow Republicans in the state Legislature continued to rework Walker’s budget, having already reversed politically unpopular cuts to education, among other things.

It was just the Friday before last that the Legislature’s budget committee eased Walker’s cuts to the University of Wisconsin System after previously stopping his $127 million hit to public schools. Right about the time the Joint Finance Committee wrapped up its final vote on that piece of the budget late that evening, Walker was 1,000 miles away in New Hampshire addressing the Belknap County GOP Sunset Dinner Cruise.

“The university doesn’t deserve this cut. This is just reality,” GOP state Sen. Luther Olsen said ahead of the vote. “To tell people that they’re not working hard enough and they should teach more is probably just ridiculous,” he said, responding to the claim by Walker and others that the university could absorb the cut through things like requiring professors to teach one extra class a semester.


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