When Mitt Romney, who is anything but a fresh face in the Republican hierarchy decided to forgo a third run for the presidency, he announced, “I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders—one who may not be as well-known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started—may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.”
Full-on Republican presidential contender Scott Walker just presumed that the man who Republican primary voters rejected in 2008, and who the rest of the American electorate rejected in 2012, was talking about a certain governor of Wisconsin.
Never mind that, in his book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, Walker ripped the party’s 2012 campaign—and, by extension, its nominee—for doing a “lousy job of presenting a positive vision of free market solutions to our nation’s problems in a way that is relevant to people’s lives.” Never mind that Walker griped just days before Romney quit the race that a 2016 run by the 2012 loser would be “pretty hard” to justify. Never mind that Walker, one of the most relentlessly negative campaigners in contemporary American politics, was more than ready to beat up on Romney if that was necessary to advance his own 2016 run. With Romney’s decision to sideline himself, Walker chirped, “I would love to have his endorsement.”
Walker actually went a step further, going on Twitter to suggest that he was precisely the sort of “next generation” leader Romney was referring to. “Had a great conversation w/ @MittRomney,” Walker announced. “He’s a good man. Thanked him for his interest in opening the door for fresh leadership in America.”
There’s only one problem with this calculus.
Scott Walker isn’t fresh.
The governor is a political careerist who has sought office—as a winner and loser—more times that Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz combined.
In a permanent campaign that began a quarter century ago—when he quit college and launched a losing state legislative campaign against future US Congresswoman Gwen Moore—Walker has run 24 primary and general election races. That doesn’t include a 2006 bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Wisconsin, which he scrapped after national party officials elbowed him aside in favor of another candidate, or his all-but announced 2016 presidential run.