Cleveland—Until Donald Trump got into the 2016 Republican presidential race, Scott Walker was kind of a big deal.
But once Trump targeted Walker—in the first of his brutal takedowns of Republican rivals—the Wisconsinite’s presidential bid crashed and burned. Quite horribly.
The horror was not complete until Wednesday night, however, when Walker appeared on the stage of the Republican National Convention that he had hoped would be nominating him this year. Instead of enjoying the accolades, he was embracing the candidacy of the man he once decried and denounced. Unlike Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the movement conservative who refused to compromise with the Trump campaign’s demands for partisan obedience (and, in so doing, created some actual political drama), Walker bowed to the new boss of the Grand Old Party.
Politics requires humbling performances from its losers—especially those who, like Walker, harbor ambitions for contests yet to come. But rarely has a politician been more humbled than the governor of Wisconsin was when he swallowed his own words and spit out an endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald John Trump.
It was the end of a painful journey for the Wisconsinite who had professed his presidential ambitions with a campaign book titled Unintimidated. Walker wanted Republicans to believe that he was a political tough guy—the Reaganite conservative who won a blue state and then busted its unions.
But then Walker ran up against an actual political tough guy.
The Wisconsinite did not go quietly. He campaigned for an agonizing few months as an ardent, if unsuccessful, Trump trasher.
When Trump disparaged Arizona Senator John McCain—suggesting that the 2008 Republican presidential nominee was “not a war hero”—Walker ripped into the New Yorker.
“I unequivocally denounce him,” the governor said of the billionaire.
But Trump’s poll numbers kept going up, while Walker’s numbers kept declining.