Can Scott Walker Defeat Donald Trump by Quitting? - Rolling Stone
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Can Scott Walker Defeat Donald Trump by Quitting?

Walker says he dropped out so someone would have a chance of beating Trump – but who?

Scott WalkerScott Walker

Scott Walker dropped out of the 2016 presidential race Monday.

Theo Stroomer/Getty

Scott Walker should have dropped out of the presidential race because he was an anti-worker cancer on the state of Wisconsin unfit to hold the office he has now, let alone the most important in the world. But instead Walker dropped out for the only reason any candidate for president drops out before the voting starts: he was running out of money.

He’s running out of money, of course, because he was a terrible candidate. He was a non-presence in the first two debates, content to let the other candidates talk over and past him. The more he stumped, the less voters liked him, culminating in a humiliating CNN national poll this week in which he couldn’t manage to register 1 percent.

But “I’m out of dough; see ya later, haters” isn’t much of a note to go out on, and clearly Walker wanted his unmemorable campaign to end on a memorable note. So instead he claimed as he dropped out so someone would have a chance of beating Donald Trump.

“Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.

“I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current frontrunner.”

Walker didn’t say who else should drop out, or whom he thought establishment Republicans should anoint now that he’s leaving. Walker’s own support – once significant, now paltry – wouldn’t add much to the total needed to beat Donald Trump.

Clearly Jeb Bush should go. He’s spent the past few months disproving the generally held notion that he was the smart brother, and his poll numbers have dived nearly as sharply as Walker’s.

Walker and Bush were supposed to be the ones with the best shot at the nomination when this wacky election cycle started, but one is out and the other is limping toward irrelevance. The Trump juggernaut hasn’t found an establishment Republican it can’t roll over yet.

So whom does Walker want to serve as anti-Trump? As of now, only Carson and Fiorina are nipping at Trump’s heels in the polls. Carson – an accomplished pediatric neurosurgeon! – has somehow turned out to be as ignorant as Trump. Fiorina is a Potemkin candidate: she owned the last debate, but her own record of failure at Hewlett Packard is her worst enemy. If she becomes a serious contender, as it looks like she might, there’s no way she’ll survive the scrutiny.

Ted Cruz isn’t an establishment candidate; he’s sucking up to Trump either to catch his supporters when he fails or to be his running mate if he doesn’t. Rand Paul is finding out his plan to mainstream his father’s nutty libertarian ideology isn’t a winning formula. Christie, Jindal, Huckabee, Santorum, Graham, Kasich – so far, all of them are non-factors.

Marco Rubio? It’s hard to imagine him surviving relentless attacks from Trump over immigration given the mood of the GOP primary electorate.

Walker’s right. Establishment Republicans need to choose a champion and get behind that person if they want a shot at taking down Trump. But his double-secret reverse-psychology plan of dropping out of the race to beat Trump has a fatal flaw: The enormous field of Republican candidates for president, the best of the best the GOP has to offer, just isn’t that impressive.

The donors, elected officials and party officials who make up the Republican elite are terrified of Donald Trump. They have pretty good reason to be; he’s an unpredictable madman who could destroy their party if he wins the nomination, and much more if he wins the presidency.

As unlikely as that latter scenario still seems, it’s not impossible. And Walker dropping out doesn’t really get the GOP any closer to beating Trump. The problem wasn’t that Scott Walker was still running – the problem is that everyone left isn’t any more appealing than he was.


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