Walker was in asterisk territory in one recent poll. REUTERS/Chris Keane
By Jenna Johnson, Robert Costa and Dan Balz September 21 at 4:23 PM
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is suspending his presidential campaign today, effectively ending a once-promising GOP presidential bid that collapsed over the summer, according to several Republicans briefed on his plans. He planned to deliver the news at a 5 p.m. CT press conference in Madison, Wis.
Walker, who tumbled from top-tier status amid tepid debate performances and other missteps, had pulled back from other early-voting states in favor of a heavy focus on Iowa, where he once led the field and has strong roots as a Midwesterner.
Many backers had directed their ire at campaign manager Rick Wiley, who some Walker supporters believe expanded the staff too quickly and failed to calibrate spending during the summer fundraising season. A recent count put the number of full-time Walker campaign staff at around 90.
Earlier this month, campaigning in New Hampshire, he was hammered with questions about how his campaign would handle falling poll numbers, and the rise of Donald Trump. “We just have to stay constant, stay who you are,” he told one supporter in Rochester.
Staying constant, however, was one of his biggest challenges. On key issues of the day — from calls to end birthright citizenship to the jailing of a Kentucky county official who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses — Walker struggled more than other candidates to clearly explain where he stands.
His performance contributed to mounting questions about the trajectory of his campaign. His verbal missteps — often the result of answering questions on the campaign trail with responses that he was forced to amend and later clarify — had been a topic of concern among his own loyalists. Last month, he twice found himself forced to clarify something he had said, first on whether he supported an end to birthright citizenship and again after an offhand answer suggesting he favored building a wall on the U.S.-Canadian border.
Walker had been urged repeatedly to be far more careful in answering unexpected questions, which have overshadowed positive reviews he’s gotten from conservative media and commentators about some of his policy proposals.
You can also read coverage of the debate for the lower-tier candidates.
11:10 p.m. Another lighthearted question for the candidates: What would your Secret Service code name be?
- Christie: “I’ve been called a lot of names by a lot of different people…I would just say true heart.”
- Kasich: “My detail, they called me Unit One.”
- Fiorina: “Secretariat”
- Walker: “Harley”
- Bush: “High energy, Donald” (a nod to Trump’s insult that he’s low energy)
- Trump: “Humble”
- Carson: “One nation”
- Cruz: “Cohiba” (a Cuban cigar brand)
- Rubio: “Gator”
- Huckabee: “Duck hunter”
- Paul: “Justice never sleeps”
11:04 p.m. A lighthearted question for the candidates: In light of the fact that the Treasury Department plans to put a woman on the $10 bill, who would the candidates put there?
- Paul: “I think Susan B. Anthony might be a good choice.”
- Huckabee: “That’s an easy one I’d put my wife on there.”
- Rubio: “Rosa Parks.”
- Cruz; “I wouldn’t change the $10 bill, I’d change the $20…I’d leave Alexander Hamilton right where he is…I very much agree with Marco that it should be Rosa Parks.”
- Carson: “I’d put my mother on there.”
- Trump: “I think my daughter Ivanka…other than that we’ll go with Rosa Parks.”
- Bush: “I would go with Ronald Reagan’s partner, Margaret Thatcher.”
- Walker: “I’d put Clara Barton. I once worked for the American Red Cross.”
Fiorina: “I wouldn’t change the $10 bill or the $20 bill, I think honestly it’s a gesture, I don’t think it helps to change our history. What I would think is that we ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group, women are the majority of this nation, we are half the potential of this nation and this nation will be better off when every woman has the opportunity to live the life she choses.”
Kasich: “It’s probably not maybe legal but I would pick Mother Theresa.”
Christie: “I think the Adams family has been shorted in the currency business, our country wouldn’t be here without John Adams and he wouldn’t be able to do it without Abigail Adams.”
10:50 p.m. Tapper brings up the fact that Trump has linked vaccines to autism and asks Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, to weigh in on whether he should stop saying that.
“There have been numerous studies and they have not demonstrated that there’s any correlation between vaccinations and autism. This is something that was spread widely 15 or 20 years ago and it has not been adequately revealed to the public what’s actually going on,” he said. But, he said, there are some vaccinations which don’t prevent diseases that would kill people and said there should probably be some discretion. He blamed the concerns about vaccines on the fact that they are supported by “big government.”
As to whether Trump should stop making the link, he said he can read more and will make an intelligent decision.
Trump said, “I am totally in favor of vaccines” but said they should be spaced farther apart and given in smaller doses. He cited the case of an employee whose child got vaccines and then two weeks later got a fever and then autism.
Asked to respond, Carson said, “He’s an okay doctor,” — a riff on the criticism that Trump fired his way.
“The fact of thematter is we have extremely well-documented proof that there’s no autism associated with vaccinations but it is true that we are probably giving way too many in way too short period of time,” he said, saying he would support cutting down on the number and frequency of vaccinations.
Paul, the other doctor on stage, was also asked to respond.
“I’m all for vaccines but I’m also for freedom. I’m also a little concerned about how they’re all bunched up,” he said.
10:35 p.m. The candidates spent several minutes discussing the issue of marijuana legalization by states, and Paul repeated his position that enforcement of drug laws has produced uneven outcomes among white and black Americans.
Christie said that New Jersey has medical marijuana laws, but “I am against the recreational use of marijuana.” He spoke about another policy in New Jersey, which is that nonviolent, non-dealing drug users go to mandatory treatment rather than jail for the first offense.
“I’m pro life, and I think you ned to be pro life for more than just the womb,” he said. But he said that victims of recreational marijuana include employers (who suffer from lost productivity) and people’s families.
Fiorina weighed in with an emotional story about her daughter’s death from drug addiction.
“We are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. Its not,” she said. She added, “The marijuana kids are smoking today is not like the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.”
She called for criminal justice reform as well.
10:30 p.m. A confession from Bush as the discussion turns to marijuana legalization: “Forty years ago I smoked marijuana and I admit it, I’m sure other people might have done it and don’t want to admit it…my mom’s not happy that I just did.”
10:18 p.m. Though Bush has defended his brother through much of the debate, he sought some daylight on the issue of 43’s nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
“John Roberts has made some really good decisions for sure but he did not have a proven extensive record that would have made clarity the important thing. And that’s what we need to do,” he said. Later, he added, “I think he is doing a good job, but the simple fact is going forward what we need to do is to have someone that has a longstanding set of rulings that consistently makes it clear that he is focused exclusively on upholding the constitution of the United States, that they won’t try to use the bench as a means by which to legislate.”
Cruz said Roberts’ nomination was a “mistake” and that he changed the law to uphold Obamacare. Bush pointed out that he had supported Roberts’ nomination.
“That was a mistake and I regret that,” he said. He said Bush nominated Roberts because it was politically expedient.
10:10 p.m. After Jake Tapper brings up Carson’s statement that the U.S. would not have gone to war in Afghanistan if he had been president, Christie said that’s not what he would have done and told the story of worrying about his wife on 9/11 because she worked two blocks from the World Trade Center.
“We lost friends htat day, we went to the funerals, and I will tell you that what those people wanted and what they deserved was for America to answer back against what had been done to them and I support what President Bush did at the time.”
Carson said that instead of war, Bush could have used the bully pulpit to “galvanize everybody behind a national goal” the way former President John F. Kennedy did during the space race.
“While that might have been a fine idea that Dr. Carson had, these people were about to kill us,” he said.
Rubio chimed in as well.
“Radical terrorism cannot be solved by intellect,” he said.
10:04 p.m. Defending former President George W. Bush was a popular position for the audience in the Reagan Library Wednesday night. Trump went after the 43rd president when arguing with Bush over foreign policy, saying, “Your brother and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama. It was such a disaster those last few months Abraham Lincoln couldn’t’ have been elected,” he said.
Bush retorted, “When it comes to my brother…he kept us safe,” getting applause.
Walker chimed in with another defense after Trump said he didn’t feel safe.
“It’s not because of George W. Bush, it’s because of Barack Obama,” he said, also to applause.
9:58 p.m. CBS News Political Reporter Stephanie Condon fact checks Bush and Trump’s tiff over whether Trump sought casino gambling in Florida.
9:51 p.m. Clinton becomes the main target for a few minutes as the candidates discuss the merits of attacking her:
Kasich usually avoids it. “People still have to get to know me so I want to spend my time talking about my experience,” he said.
Fiorina, who frequently attacks Clinton without being prompted, said, “Mrs. Clinton is going to have to defend her track record…lying about Benghazi..lying about her emails…she does not have a track record of accomplishment.
“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Mrs. Clinton’s,” she said.
And Christie said he would be best poised to “prosecute” Clinton because of his role as as former federal prosecutor.
9:35 p.m. Fiorina and Trump get in an extended back and forth about their business successes after Fiorina is asked to respond to attacks by Trump about her tenure at Hewlett Packard.
“I led Hewlett-Packard through a very difficult time. The worst technology recession in 25 years. The NASDAQ stock index fell 80 percent. It took 15 years for the stock index to recover. We had very strong competitors who literally went out of business and lost all of their jobs in the process. Despite those difficult times, we doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth weight, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation,” she said.
“Some tough calls are going to be required,” she said of massive layoffs. “But as for the firing” — her firing, which Trump has criticized — “I have been very honest with this from the day it happened. when you challenge the status quo, you make enemies. I made a few. Steve Jobs told me that when he called me the day I was fired to say ‘hey, been there, done that, twice.'”
Then she hit Trump for his multiple bankruptcies in Atlantic City.
“You filed for bankruptcy four times, a record four times, why should we trust you to manage the finances of this nation any differently than you managed the finances of your casinos?” she said.
“Atlantic City is a disaster and I did great in Atlantic City. I knew when to get out, my timing was great and a got a lot of credit for it,” he said. He said he, like other businessman, have just “used the laws of the land” to help his companies.
Then Christie laid into both of them for arguing about their careers, saying Americans who are struggling or out of work “could care less about your careers. They care about theirs.”
When Fiorina started to interrupt him, he said, “You interrupt everybody else on this stage; you’re not going to interrupt me.”
“Stop this childish back and forth,” Christie said.
9:23 p.m. Carson expands a bit on his immigration plan, which he discussed on CBS’ “Face the Nation” this weekend.
“After we seal the borders, after we turn off the spigot that dispenses all the goodies…people who had a pristine record we should consider allowing them to become guest workers primarily in the agricultural sphere.”
“If they don’t do it within that time period then they become illegal and as illegals they will be treated as such,” he said.
He said his plan is not amnesty because farmers cannot find American workers to do the labor they need, and he would not allow guest workers to become American citizens or enjoy the rights of citizens.
9:16 p.m. Trump and Bush spar again over whether Trump went too far by saying that Bush has a soft spot for Mexicans because his wife, Columba Bush, was born in Mexico.
Bush said he went too far, the comment was “completely inappropriate” and he should apologize.
“I hear phenomenal things,” Trump said of Bush’s wife.
“Why don’t you apologize to her?” Bush asked.
“No I won’t do that because I’ve done nothing wrong,” Trump said.
9:10 p.m. Will Trump put a number on how much his immigration plan will cost? No, but he did reiterate his plan to build a wall and deport immigrants like gang members from all over the country on his first day in office.
9:08 p.m. Fiorina was given the opportunity to respond to comments Trump had made insulting her appearance. He later said he was talking about her persona.
“Mr. Trump said to me that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” she said, getting applause from the crowd.
“I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman,” Trump responded.
9:02 p.m. The candidates get into the issue of whether the Congress should shut down the federal government in order to defund Planned Parenthood.
Kasich said, “The president of the United States is not going to sign this and all we’re going to do is shut the government down…the American people are going to shake their heads and say what’s the story with these Republicans?”
Cruz, on the other hand, said his fellow Republicans were “preemptively surrendering” to Obama. “You know, Obama’s committed to his principles,” he said. “Republicans surrender, we need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles.”
Christie avoided a direct question about whether he would shut down the government, urging his fellow Republicans to stop fighting with each other and put the question to Clinton instead. Finally, after repeated questioning, he said, “We should be doing these things and forcing the president to take action,” referring to cutting Planned Parenthood funding out of the budget.
Fiorina delivered an impassioned speech and said “I dare” Clinton and Mr. Obama to watch the videos of officials discussing the transfer of fetal body parts.
“This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up and force Barack Obama to veto this bill, shame on us,” she said.
8:50 p.m. The candidates debate the merits of whether the U.S. should have intervened in Syria militarily after dictator Bashar Assad used chemical weapons.
Rubio said the Congress didn’t want to authorize use of force because the military was not in a position where they could win. Cruz said President Obama hadn’t answered the question of what if chemical weapons had ended up in the hands of radical Islamic groups.
Paul had a different reason for believing there shouldn’t have been any U.S. intervention.
“Had we bombed Assad at the time…I think ISIS would be in Damascus today, I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria,” he said. “Sometimes intervention makes us less safe.”
8:45 p.m. Walker finds no support for his call to cancel an upcoming state visitby Chinese President Xi Jinping. Paul said the U.S. should always talk to people it considers enemies, pointing to the Cold War. Bush also passes on the idea of canceling, but said the U.S. should be tough on China.
8:43 p.m. Cruz doubles down on his promise to rip up the Iran nuclear deal after being asked to respond to criticism from Kasich that it shows his inexperience and that he’s just playing to a crowd.
“No president of the United States…has the authority to give away our sovereignty,” he said, referring to President Obama working with the United Nations to implement the deal.
8:41 p.m. Candidates weigh in on how they’d deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump said, “I will get along I think with Putin, and I will get along with others and we will have a much more stable, stable world.” Fiorina said the U.S. shouldn’t be talking to Putin at all and instead should be building up its military presence in the region.
8:33 p.m. Bush and Trump tangle after Bush was asked about whether special interests controlled his campaign. As an example, Bush said that he turned down Trump when the businessman sought casino gambling in Florida. Bush said he turned Trump down.
“I promise if I would have wanted it, I would have gotten it,” Trump said.
Later, as Bush continued to press Trump over his past donations to Democrats, Trump showed some appreciation for his feistiness.
“More energy tonight, I like that,” he said, prompting laughter from the audience.
8:31 p.m. One person who’s not that interested in beating up on their fellow candidates by name: Carson. Asked who he was referring to when talking about politicians who do things that are politically expedient, he said, “I don’t want to really get into describing who’s a politician and who’s not a politician but I think the people have kind of made that decision for themselves already.”
Fiorina jumped into the discussion of outsiders.
“If someone’s beein in the system their whole life, they don’t know how broken the system is…its not that politicians are bad people, its that they’ve been in that system forever,” she said.
8:27 p.m. Kasich scolds his fellow candidates for the infighting.
“If I were sitting at home watching this back and forth, I’d be inclined to turn it off. People at home…want to know what we’re going to do to fix this place,” he said.
8:24 p.m. Walker joins in the fray hitting Trump.
“Mr. Trump, we don’t need an apprentice in the White House, we have one right now…we don’t know who you are or where you’re going.”
“In Wisconsin you’re losing $2.2 billion dollars right now,” Trump retorted.
8:21 p.m. As with the lower tier debate, the first question has to do with Trump. It went to Carly Fiorina, who was asked if she trusted Trump to be in control of the nuclear launch codes.
“I think Mr. Trump is wonderful entertainer, he’s been terrific at that business,” she said. She added that she believed a long campaign process would be beneficial in revealing character.
Pressed for an answer to the nuclear code question, Fiorina said, “That’s not for me to answer, it’s for the voters of this country to answer.”
In Trump’s response, he took aim at Paul, who hadn’t even spoken yet.
“Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage,” he said referring to Paul’s polling.
After Paul criticized Trump for attacking people’s looks in the manner of a junior high debate, Trump said, “I never attacked him on his look, and believe me there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”
8:10 p.m. The 11 Republican candidates doing best in the polls have begun the main debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. On stage: businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Following in the footsteps of 14 Republican candidates who came before him, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker entered the presidential race Monday promising fresh leadership, reform, economic growth and safety for the American people.
“My record shows that I know how to fight and win. Now, more than ever, America needs a president who will fight and win for America,” Walker said.
The proclamation followed a list of his accomplishments as governor of Wisconsin: lowering taxes, passing lawsuit and regulatory reform, passing pro-life legislation and implementing voter ID laws in the state. All that followed on what he likely sees as the most important accomplishment, the one that fight that catapulted him into national prominence: “We took on the unions and we won,” he said.
He was referring to the 2011 bill he proposed that would have eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions in Wisconsin. The move sparked raucous protests at the State Capitol building in Madison and an effort to recall Walker from office. After a fierce battle, he prevailed on June 5, 2012, becoming the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt. It was the second of three statewide elections he would win in a four-year period (the other two were his election and re-election as governor).
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker officially launches White House bid
“He’s the strongest anti-union Republican in the bunch, and that’s an issue that resonates both with average Republicans, but also with business Republicans that give a lot of money to the party,” Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, told CBS News earlier this year. “It defines him.”
Walker’s kickoff speech was held in Waukesha, Wisconsin at the site of his 2012 recall election rally. He has taken the message of standing up to the unions to Iowa and turned it into an early and persistent lead in the polls.
He promised “real reform” for Washington, D.C., modeled after what he had done in his home state, saying, “Our big, bold reforms in Wisconsin took the power from the big government special interests and put it firmly into the hands of the hard-working taxpayers.” That included ending seniority and tenure for teachers, a move that Walker credits for Wisconsin’s increased graduation rates and test scores.
Walker also pointed to reforms in Wisconsin that require people who receive welfare to first enroll in a job training program and take a drug test.
Recalling his own childhood with a small-town pastor for a father and part-time secretary and bookkeeper for a mother, Walker said he and his brother inherited “the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do and be anything you want. That’s the American Dream. And that is worth fighting for.”
“Helping adults who are able to work transition from government dependence to true independence will help more people live that dream,” he said.
Who is presidential candidate Scott Walker?
His plan for growth includes a pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, roll back “out-of-control regulations,” use America’s resources to create energy, approving the Keystone pipeline, and getting rid of Common Core school standards.
To explain his focus on tax relief, Walker compared it to buying a shirt at Kohl’s. By the time the shirt goes on sale and he and his wife use coupons and rewards to lower the purchase even more, “they’re paying us to buy that shirt.” (“Well, not really,” he acknowledged.)
“So how does a company like Kohl’s make money? Volume. They make it off of volume,” Walker said. “You see, they could charge you $29.99 and a few of you could afford it or they can lower the price and broaden the base and make more money off of volume. That’s what I think about your money – the taxpayers’ money. The government could charge the higher rates and a few of you could afford it. Or, we can lower the rates and broaden the base and increase the volume of people participating in our economy.”
He praised former President Ronald Reagan’s leadership on foreign policy and said that America is “headed toward a disaster” under the “Obama/Clinton doctrine.”
He called for ending any nuclear deal with Iran and allowing U.S. military personnel to directly help Kurdish and Sunni Arab allies fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“Earlier this year, the President proclaimed that climate change is the greatest threat to future generations. Well Mr. President, I respectfully disagree. The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism and we need to do something about it,” Walker said.
Scott Walker: I can take on ISIS
He also accused the president and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton of offering only “mush” that has failed to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from encroaching into Ukrainian territory.
“Putin bases his policies on Lenin’s old principle: probe with bayonets, if you encounter mush, push; if you encounter steel, stop. With Obama and Clinton, Putin has encountered years of mush. The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in front of our enemies,” he said.
Like some of the other governors seeking the GOP nomination, Walker has turned to various Republican foreign policy experts to give him a crash-course tutorial on the ways of the world, after a few public blunders that highlighted the lack of attention he’s paid to foreign affairs in the months leading up to his campaign.
During a Q&A session with members of the Club for Growth in Florida earlier this year, for example, he raised some eyebrows by claiming the most significant policy decision of his lifetime was former President Ronald Reagan’s actions to break up a 1981 strike by air traffic controllers, according to the Washington Post. During a foreign trip to London in February, he avoided having to answer foreign policy questions.
And during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee in February, Walker suggested his experience dealing with protesters in Wisconsin proves he has the mettle to take on ISIS and America’s foreign foes. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said.
Walker’s official entry into the race came Monday morning with a tweet and Facebook video featuring an abbreviated version of the vision he laid out in his announcement speech. He is the 15th Republican who will compete for the GOP nomination.
In a video released on Facebook, Walker previewed the argument for why he’s better positioned to run the country than the more than dozen other competitors for the GOP nomination: “There are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”
I’m in. I’m running for President of the United States because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them. SHARE if you stand with me. Support at ScottWalker.com! -SW
Posted by Scott Walker on Monday, July 13, 2015
Walker will hold a rally Monday evening in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to make the announcement in person.
His political martyr story combined with his record of electoral success and his “I’m just a regular guy” schtick (see: the reference to clipping Kohl’s coupons) will be front-and-center as he begins his campaign. Following the announcement speech, he’ll barnstorm through four early primary and caucus states with an emphasis on his regular-guy theme with stops at Harley-Davidson dealers in each state, barbecue in South Carolina, a diner in New Hampshire, and a Winnebago tour through Iowa.
Governor Scott Walker changed his stance on immigration
But there are several potential cracks in the Walker foundation. He faces dropping approval ratings at home in the face of tough fiscal and economic realities. Like other governors, his foreign policy experience is limited, at best, and he has to deal with some hardcore conservatives have been skeptical about his shifting rhetoric on some red-meat issues like same-sex marriage, immigration and education.
Still, he has proven to be an exciting prospect for Republican voters, which has kept him consistently in the top two or three candidates in polls this year.
CBS News Senior Political Editor Steve Chaggaris contributed to this story.