There were several appearances at CPAC yesterday which generated attention from the media – Kevin Boyd posted the one from Ted Cruz earlier today, for example – but none had quite the feel of a speech from a true top-tier presidential candidate. Scott Walker’s 18 minutes ambling about the stage in shirtsleeves and without a teleprompter was a strong audition for the role; he landed several blows on Barack Obama’s lack of leadership and touched a few conservative erogenous zones by speaking to the principles of the founding and the need for smaller government and larger individual freedom.
But what really gave the speech the character of a job interview for the highest office in the land came about halfway through when Walker started listing his accomplishments as governor. It’s a laundry list of conservative policy goodies – concealed carry legislation, defunding Planned Parenthood, tax reductions, the soon-to-become-law Right To Work bill and so on. That Walker had the sand to advocate legislation like that in a blue state is impressive; that he was able to get all those things passed in the state legislature is miraculous. Sure, the Wisconsin legislature has a Republican majority. So does Congress, and the lack of fight among the GOP leadership on the Hill is obvious. Walker has what most GOP politicians don’t – audacity.
So when he says that “Washington is washed up,” there is meaning behind that statement. Walker is somebody who could bring transformative change to that city, and a perceptible change of direction. If the GOP race is to center around a Scott Walker-Jeb Bush competition, it is Walker who can run as an agent of change. Voters see that and they’re responding – Walker is emerging as the frontrunner in the polls, and he appears to be gaining momentum.
The speech actually starts at 2:09 of the video. About 14:30 is where the question-and-answer period begins, and the first was the question about ISIS that Walker answered in part by referencing the 100,000 union protestors he faced down in Wisconsin that some are calling an unwise statement (judge that one for yourself)…