Well, the #NeverTrump conservatives have at least raised their sights. If you are going to conjure up an imaginary champion to oppose Donald Trump’s candidacy in Cleveland or beyond, the sitting governor of Wisconsin represents a more formidable fantasy figure than an obscure writer from National Review. If Scott Walker were to take on Trump before or after Cleveland, it would be big news, though the big news would probably be that Walker’s career in Republican politics had abruptly and prematurely ended.
The genesis of the Draft Walker talk was his remarks (similar in nature to those of many other Republican pols, including his fellow Wisconsin pol the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives) deploring Trump’s weird and racist attacks on Judge Gonazao Curiel, and observing that Trump was not yet the nominee (Walker had earlier said he would support Trump as the nominee, you see). I would interpret these remarks as Walker giving himself some time to fully clamber onto the Trump bandwagon. But eager #NeverTrumpers seized on them as indicating a desire to deny Trump the nomination, and because Walker has yet to repudiate such talk in the intervening hours, he’s suddenly the GOP’s imaginary savior.
Other than the usefully inartful phrasing of Walker’s criticism of Trump, what makes him a semi-ideal, if probably very temporary, vehicle for #NeverTrump is that he withdrew from the 2016 presidential nominating contest before he was forced to say anything that represented toadying to Trump or irreversibly offending Trump’s supporters. And needless to say, his quick retreat from the campaign spared him the ignominy of being trounced by the mogul in an actual primary or caucus.
Even the most excited retailer of rumors — and he admits that’s all they are — about Walker, #NeverTrump stalwart Erick Erickson, admits that any challenge to Trump from that quarter will have to fully emerge in the next two weeks, and will only succeed if Trump commits another highly public racist gaffe and if Ted Cruz joins the conspiracy. In other words: If Walker had some ham he could make a ham sandwich, if he had some bread.
Short of a direct order from the brothers Koch, I see no path to a bitter-end candidacy for Walker if he wants to have a future in Republican politics, which presumably he does at the relatively tender age of 48. If Trump does something truly and indisputably psychotic or drops 30 points in the polls before Cleveland, there will be multiple aspirants to the task of plotting a revolt, and even then it will be a stretch.
But since many #NeverTrumpers are as stubborn and egocentric as Trump himself, the fantasy won’t die even if Walker wanders back into the news with a denial of his interest in a suicide mission. And so you wonder: What’s Tim Pawlenty doing this summer?