Romney and Santorum Support Scott Walker
The Republican race has revolved around the idea that Republican voters desire someone who is both electable and a true conservative. As the candidates vie for Wisconsin’s votes in that state’s upcoming primary, they have chosen to cater to the conservative side by aligning themselves with that state’s controversial governor, Scott Walker. This may play fairly well in the primary, but voters in the general election may be less sympathetic to candidates who stand with someone who favors party rhetoric over workers rights.
Governor Walker will have to fight to keep his office after Wisconsin Democrats gathered more than 1 million signatures to hold a recall election. Walker drew the ire of many in the state after he pushed through a bill that would strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Massive protests were staged at the Wisconsin State Capitol, and the backlash drew national attention. Walker’s approval ratings plummeted, although he has regained some support as the fury over the bill has cooled. The recall election could be held as soon as this summer.
The controversial nature of Walker’s actions has not prompted Republican candidates to shy away, however. Rick Santorum, in an apparent jab at Mitt Romney’s soft stance on many issues, seemed to favorably compare himself with the governor in a recent television interview.
“The people of Wisconsin, they’re looking for someone like a Scott Walker who’s willing to tell it like it is,” Santorum said. “You know what he believes. You know he’s not going to back down.”
Not to be outdone in the run to the right, Mitt Romney also expressed his support for Walker’s policies.
“So I can only tell you that I think his effort to try and rein in the excesses and to try to give the state a more solid financial footing makes a great deal of sense, and I support him,” Romney said.
This may serve the candidates well with Republican primary voters, but whoever wins the nomination will have to win votes from moderates across the country. Voters in the crucial swing state of Ohio overwhelmingly voted down a bill that was similar to the Wisconsin collective bargaining measure last November. While voters may have some misgivings about overreaching by unions, they still recognize when basic rights are being stripped away in the name of party politics.
Walker’s attempt to strip public bargaining rights is representative of the race to the bottom that too many of our candidates are happy to participate in. We should not be stripping benefits that posed no problem when our economy was stronger. Instead, we should be looking for ways to strengthen our economy so that we can afford the things we need. The support Romney and Santorum have expressed for Walker’s approach is troubling, and it may be something they regret when the general election comes knocking.