I’m not a major-party voter, but like millions I have watched the GOP presidential debates (and will watch the Democrats’ debates, too). There’s a lot to learn from watching the candidates, for all the showiness, the pre-debate theatrics, etc.
The key point about all these encounters is that they are intra-party affairs – it’s a debate among those of the same general view. If one GOP candidate does poorly, there’s another GOP candidate likely to gain. Success or failure of some in this setting is not a repudiation of a party teachings; it’s simply a reallocation of support among relatively like-minded candidates.
That brings us to Gov. Walker: conservatism is everywhere in the national GOP, but his candidacy as a conservative has been a disappointment.
Over at NBC News, Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann have a story entitled, Winners and Losers from Last Night’s Debate. I think their assessments are spot-on.
Here’s their assessment of Gov. Walker:
Scott Walker: He had a good first 10 minutes with his “apprentice” line. But he faded after that. It was like the football team that immediately delivered on the trick play it had been practicing, but then showed little else for the rest of the game.
It seems that Scott Walker knows it was not a good night, from post-debate remarks quoted in the Journal Sentinel:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker needed a breakout performance in Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate, but he had a problem:
In the three-hour forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, he was asked just three questions.
“Short of tackling someone, I don’t know what more I could have done,” Walker told reporters after the debate. “I aggressively interrupted (CNN moderator) Jake Tapper a bunch of times along the way and short of an absolute brawl, I don’t know what more one could do.”
One makes one’s own opportunities. That means, in this case, speaking more, and speaking in sharp exchanges with rivals within the same party.
That didn’t happen at the first debate; it didn’t happen in the second.
Candidates are responsible for their own campaigns, of course, but it’s worth repeating that Wisconsin’s press has not prepared her candidates for the kind of exchanges that other major-party candidates handle often and easily.