The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
              FILE - In this March 31, 2011 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in Milwaukee. Republicans will be defending more governorships than Democrats next year, including in a string of Southwestern and Midwestern states President Barack Obama carried just a year ago. Yet, voters in many of them seem as open to re-electing Republican governors swept into office in 2010 on the tea party wave and who enacted economic and labor policy changes far different than the Democratic president  FILE - In this March 31, 2011 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in Milwaukee. Republicans will be defending more governorships than Democrats next year, including in a string of Southwestern and Midwestern states President Barack Obama carried just a year ago. Yet, voters in many of them seem as open to re-electing Republican governors swept into office in 2010 on the tea party wave and who enacted economic and labor policy changes far different than the Democratic president's. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck, File)   

Scott Walker’s cagey approach to abortion, and his 2016 opportunity

Photo of Gary Bauer
Gary Bauer
President, American Values

Last fall, Scott Walker released a book titled Unintimidated. The memoir-cum-campaign manifesto chronicles how the Wisconsin governor stared down labor union leaders to reform collective bargaining laws and cut his state’s bloated budget.

Unintimidated is an apt adjective to describe how Walker championed important economic reforms against the (sometimes literal) assaults of his political opponents.

While I have not made a decision about who I’ll support for president in 2016, Governor Walker’s courageous battle against Big Labor in Wisconsin was inspiring enough to secure him a spot on any short list of GOP contenders.

That’s why it pains me so much to say that, on his current path, Walker is unlikely to make it to the White House. Not because of his bold defense of economic reforms, but, rather, because he has become so timid on values issues.

On abortion in particular it appears that Walker has been intimidated, or at least somewhat cowed, by those who insist that Republicans should keep quiet. These days, Walker’s position seems to be, ‘sure, I’m pro-life, but I’d rather not talk about it.’

In November, Walker told The Hill newspaper about Republicans: “For us politically, it doesn’t make sense for us not to be focused on the fiscal and economic issues. The left wants us to get off of economic and fiscal issues. … The lesson after last November … was we have to focus on the things we care about and lead on those, and those are fiscal and economic issues.”

Actually, the left wants to convince conservatives to stay silent on social issues, which would allow it to mischaracterize conservative positions and leave its own extreme positions unexamined and unchallenged.

At a December breakfast with The Christian Science Monitor, Walker said about abortion, “I don’t focus on that; I don’t obsess with it.”

Such comments are surprising coming from someone with such a stellar pro-life record. As a student at Marquette University, he led the school’s chapter of Students for Life. He was a reliable pro-life vote in his nine years in the Wisconsin State Assembly. And as governor he has signed several pieces of pro-life legislation, from a bill to stop abortion funding in Obamacare to legislation outlawing webcam abortions to a measure to defund Planned Parenthood.

But now Walker is downplaying that record. When The Hill brought up his pro-life credentials, Walker demurred, saying, “I signed hundreds of bills the last couple years. There’s literally a handful that relate to that issue.”

“I’m still pro-life,” he added before dismissing how important the laws he signed were to voters. Defunding Planned Parenthood, he said, “gets some activists worked up, but taxpayers say ‘What’s the big deal there?’”

Last July, when Walker signed several pro-life bills, he did so without the fanfare that typically accompanies major bill signings. He signed the legislation behind closed doors the day after Independence Day, a Friday, when it was sure to get little media attention. His only announcement about the legislation was a generic tweet: “Spent the morning signing 18 bills into law.”