Over the weekend, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made it abundantly clear that wants to run for president in 2016. Exhibit A, this exchange
with NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press
CHUCK TODD: I've got to ask you about 2016. You made a pledge in October that you were going to serve all four years. Does that pledge still hold?
SCOTT WALKER: I said my plan was for four years. I've got a plan to keep going for the next four years. But, you know, certainly I care deeply about not only my state, but my country. We'll see what the future holds.
In October, Walker did say
he planned to serve four years when asked if he would promise to serve his full term if re-elected. But that was before the election. Now he says "I've got a plan to keep going" as governor, a subtle but important shift from actively planning to be governor to having a contingency plan for being able to continue being governor.
Walker also pivoted to talking about how he isn't only concerned about Wisconsin, but also the country as a whole, but the place where he really made his national ambitions clear was in an op-ed he placed with Politico:
It’s put up or shut up time. Those were the words I spoke to the newly elected Republican majority in Wisconsin back in 2010. With both houses of the legislature and the governorship in Republican hands for the first time in more than a decade, it was our time to prove that the trust voters placed in us was warranted. That we would do what we had said we would do. That we would turn things around.
Those are the same words I share with Republicans preparing to lead both houses of Congress come January.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
The op-ed reads like a presidential campaign announcement with a message focused on winning Republican primary voters. He brags about pushing Republican policies through Wisconsin, contrasting his record of hardline conservatism with what he implicitly suggests is weak-kneed moderation from Congressional Republicans. A typical passage:
To say the least, we did not nibble around the edges. We pushed full-scale, common-sense, conservative reforms and got to work beginning on day one. [...] The message Wisconsin holds for national Republicans is clear: Don’t be afraid to lead.
And just in case you're not convinced yet that Walker is running, let me point you back to his Meet the Press interview
in which he did profess his admiration for Paul Ryan ... but with a huge asterisk:
CHUCK TODD: Do you defer to Paul Ryan?
SCOTT WALKER: I love Paul Ryan. I've said many times before I'd be the president of Paul Ryan fan club. But I do think if we're going to beat Hillary Clinton in this next election, we've got to have a message that says, "Hillary Clinton is all about Washington." [...]
CHUCK TODD: You're not deferring to Paul Ryan, then? It sounds like you believe a governor, not a member of Congress should be the Republican nominee?
SCOTT WALKER: Paul Ryan may be the only exception to that rule. But overall, I think governors make much better presidents than members of Congress.
Clearly, Walker doesn't want to say anything bad about Ryan, but just as clearly he doesn't want Ryan to run. And the reason for this obvious: Scott Walker is running for president. And if he's not the front-runner for the GOP nomination, he's got to be pretty high on the list.