The parable of the early bird vs. first or second mouse

As Others See It
Matt Pommer • Wisconsin Newspaper Association


Could Scott Walker end up being the Republican candidate for vice president in 2016?

The idea bubbled up in mid June after Walker backers suggested that a GOP ticket of Walker and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, would make a formidable election ticket. Who would be number one and who would be number two?

Walker jokingly replied that he and Rubio could arm-wrestle to see who would lead such a ticket and who would be the vice-presidential candidate. Yet it seemed the first national talk about the vice presidential slot.

Rubio is one of three members of the U.S. Senate from Cuban-American families. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Miami. Walker left Marquette University without an undergraduate degree, went into fund-raising and then ran for the Wisconsin Assembly.

Walker has struggled with immigration and foreign affairs issues. The latest dust-up was his claim that British Prime Minister David Cameron had shared with him concerns Cameron had about President Obama and American policy. Cameron quickly denied making such comments.

Walker quickly retreated and said he had learned a lot by the whole business. No one asked specifically what he had learned. At a minimum, he was reminded that whatever a presidential candidate says gets into the news cycle. Walker has been making a number of trips abroad in an effort to boost his image on foreign affairs.

Immigration ideas also have been a struggle for Walker, and that may be the basis for his supporters thinking that running with the Spanish-speaking Rubio would help on the issue. But the presidential nominees will have to clearly spell out their own position on immigration.

The news back in Wisconsin wasn’t helping Walker who has indicated he’d like to focus his national campaign on economic and fiscal issues. In 2010 Walker, vowed to add 250,000 private- sector jobs in his first four years as governor. Final federal workforce numbers for the period came in showing Wisconsin has achieved only 52 percent of that goal.

New numbers also showed Wisconsin having the slowest job growth in the Midwest as the American economic downturn receded. No longer are Walker’s forces trying to counter that issue by saying job growth under Walker was better than during the recession than when Democrat Jim Doyle was governor.

Another fiscal issue is Walker’s opposition to increasing either the gasoline tax or the fees paid for truck and auto licenses in Wisconsin. He wants the state to borrow $1.3 billion more to avoid asking the public to reach for their wallets.

That position might make Walker a perfect fit for a federal role. The nation’s infrastructure including highways and bridges are in dire need of help, but there is no enthusiasm in Washington to raise the needed funds.

Walker got an early bounce in political polling by being the first Republican to make it obvious he wanted to be the next president of the United States. Political reporters jumped at the chance to do stories about the early bird in the campaign. Part of political reporting is finding candidates who will return calls and make statements on the issues of the day.

Walker clearly has been the “early bird” in the GOP sweepstakes. But an exchange between Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan and a player about practice may offer insight.

“The early bird gets the worm,” Ryan said.

But the second mouse is the one who gets the cheese, the player answered.

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