In a strange convergence, there's agreement among the diehard right-wingers gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington this week and left-wing pundits: Scott Walker is on top of the world. Well, maybe not the world—we'll get to that—but the Republican presidential sweepstakes.
Although Jeb Bush boasts impressive momentum—nearly insurmountable momentum, in the judgment of D.C. tastemaker Mike Allen—CPAC is a good illustration of Bush's weaknesses. Bush was due to speak later Friday, but just the mention of his name drew boos earlier in the day. Walker, meanwhile, enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response Thursday from the crowd at the conference, which leans more conservative than the former Florida governor.
One Walker line caught attention outside the CPAC bubble, though: his answer when asked what about his background prepared him to be handle the threat of ISIS. “I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on American soil," he said. "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”
As many, many people immediately leapt to point out, dealing with a crowd of angry but mostly peaceful union demonstrators and liberal activists in Madison is rather different from dealing with murderous, messianic terrorists in Mesopotamia. (It's also very offensive to unions and Wisconsinites who disagreed with Walker about labor, but let's set that aside for the purposes of discussion.) Walker's presumptive 2016 rival Rick Perry saw an attractive weapon for bashing him. Walker later told the Wisconsin State Journal he didn't regret the comment, and added: "I’m just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling this difficult situation is the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with."