On Monday, a liberal group gleefully announced Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had been caught in a lie.
“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has claimed he voted for Ronald Reagan when he ‘had just become a teenager,’” wrote Brad Woodhouse of American Bridge in an email. ”Given that Walker was just 17 years old on Election Day in 1984, that claim is just not possible.” Outlets like Salon, Gawker, and the Huffington Post had also seized on the story.
But according to John Hawkins, the blogger who conducted the original interview, Walker never said he voted for Reagan. The mix-up was a result of a transcription error.
“All I can do at this point is apologize for the error,” wrote Hawkins on his RightWingNews website. “This was our mistake and it was very unfair to Scott Walker who is catching flack because of an honest error on our part.”
The original transcript read: “I remember, I was a teenager, had just become a teenager and voted for Ronald Reagan — limited government, you know, smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense. You knew what you were getting. You knew how a Reagan administration, a Reagan presidency was going to be better for you.”
According to Hawkins, what Walker actually said was this: “I remember, I was a teenager, had just become a teenager and — a vote for Ronald Reagan meant limited government, you know, smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense.”
Having listened to the tape, it seems Walker was mumbling his words. This seems like an honest mistake. It’s even hard to blame liberals who seized on this story — nearly a month after the interview was posted. But I think the lesson here is that every interview you give — no matter when or where — will be read by opposition researchers.
UPDATE: This post originally implied American Bridge had “broken” (not just popularized) the story, but the allegations appear to have originated Saturday on this liberal blog.