Scott Walker and the Power of Rush Limbaugh

limbaugh Scott Walker and the Power of Rush Limbaugh

Two weeks ago, in my PolitickerNJ.com column, “Scott Walker: Jeb’s Most Formidable Opponent – And His Best Running Mate” (http://politickernj.com/2015/01/scott-walker-jebs-most-formidable-opponent-and-his-best-running-mate/), I stated that the 2016 race for the GOP presidential nomination would ultimately be a two person contest between former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The recent withdrawal of Mitt Romney did not make the GOP presidential sweepstakes a two person race; it simply confirmed it, in view of Romney’s inability to make even a dent in Jeb’s power base nationally: the GOP Donor Class Bundlers.

Scott Walker’s national GOP base consists of the party’s movement conservatives. He qualified as the candidate of this constituency due to his success as Wisconsin governor in enacting the boldest conservative agenda implemented by a state government during the last fifty years. And his chief advocate in communicating the news of this success to movement conservatives was Rush Limbaugh.

For the past two decades, Rush Limbaugh has maintained the largest listening audience of any American talk show host. Movement conservatives regard him as an icon and listen to his show with an almost religious devotion.

Over the past year, Rush has extolled the virtues and record of Scott Walker on a daily basis. Due to Rush’s advocacy, Walker was hailed as the candidate of America’s movement conservatives when he arrived at the recent Iowa Freedom Forum. There, the Wisconsin governor performed magnificently and strengthened his hold on this constituency.

All this caught America’s mainstream media by surprise. These journalists tend to be derisive of both Rush’s style and ideological beliefs. Reporters are entitled to their style preferences and views, but they should never let this affect the competency of their reporting. The prejudices of mainstream media journalists caused them to totally lose sight of the enormous influence Rush has on millions of American conservative voters. There are issues as to which I agree or disagree with Rush, and his bombastic style is not for me. Yet his remarkable impact on American public opinion is undeniable.

Mainstream media also erroneously focused on two other possible aspirants for the mantle of the candidacy of the movement conservatives, namely, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. In my view, neither senator will make it anywhere near the finish line.

Ted Cruz is a brilliant lawyer and sincere believer in the causes he espouses. Yet unlike Walker’s stellar record of accomplishment as Wisconsin governor, Cruz’s tenure as a U.S. Senator since his election in 2012 has been distinguished by nonachievement, largely due to the antipathy other GOP senators have for him.

As for Marco Rubio, he will not be able to raise the money to mount a significant presidential campaign, largely due to the fact that Jeb Bush will preempt Rubio’s Florida fundraising base. Yet I will at this early point make a prediction regarding Marco Rubio. If Scott Walker prevails over Jeb Bush in the battle for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, he is likely to pick Marco Rubio as his running mate for vice-president, due to the absolute need of the GOP candidate to win Rubio’s home state of Florida.

A Walker-Rubio ticket would be most attractive, featuring two candidates who will both still be in their forties on Election Day 2016. For the benefit of those who are new to my column, I have previously predicted that if Jeb Bush wins the battle for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, he will pick Scott Walker himself as his running mate, and the certain Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, will pick as her running mate Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine.

In supporting Scott Walker over other GOP conservative 2016 presidential hopefuls, Rush Limbaugh sagely is following the rule of the late venerated conservative author and most distinguished intellectual, William F. Buckley, Jr. The Buckley rule is: to nominate the most conservative candidate who is electable.

Thus, in responding to those who complain that Scott Walker does not meet certain proposed litmus tests of the conservative purists, Rush says the following:

Scott Walker could be wrong on immigration. He could be wrong on global warming, to the base. The base may not like his view on this or that, but they’re gonna support him because he is fighting back.

So largely due to the role already played by Rush Limbaugh, it is game on for the GOP 2016 presidential sweepstakes, Jeb Bush versus Scott Walker. In my next column about the race, I will discuss two key aspects of the contest: 1) the critical role of the January 26, 2016 New Hampshire primary; and 2) the possibility that support of Scott Walker from conservative Super PACs could diminish the significance of the financial advantage Jeb Bush presently has, due to the fundraising of Donor Class Bundlers supporting the former Florida governor.

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Under former Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.