Robert Costa, a Washington Post reporter and former National Review correspondent, asked Scott Walker this week whether he personally believes President Obama is a Christian.
The interview was not Costa’s first rodeo with Walker. In previous interactions, however, Costa appeared significantly more concerned with the Wisconsin governor’s record, instead of his opinion on Obama’s innermost religious thoughts. (The potential 2016 candidate responded with “I don’t know” to whether he believed if the president was a Christian.) (RELATED: WaPo To Walker: Do You Believe Obama Is A Christian?)
At his previous gig with National Review, Costa distinguished himself with in-depth articles on Walker’s brutal battle with public sector unions and tough recall election to remain governor. The current WaPo political reporter’s coverage of the embattled Walker painted a positive picture of the man who may announce a run for the White House in the upcoming month.
In March 2011, Costa composed a lengthy piece on how the Republican’s decision to limit collective bargaining for most state employees led to a full-blown revolt in his state capitol and a national firestorm against a politician who had only been in office for less than two months. Democrat legislators fled the state to kill Walker’s legislation and thousands of protesters camped out in the state house to denounce the Badger State’s “rookie executive.”
While Costa noted that Walker was “skewered by liberal pundits” and activists, the journalist described the young governor as an “unapologetic conservative” who refused to back down in the fight with unions.
In his interview for that story, Costa referred to Walker as perpetually calm and his questions stuck to the issues at hand, such as his views on the MIA Democratic lawmakers and the protesters swarming into Madison.
“These tens of thousands of protesters have every right to be heard,” Walker told Costa then about his opponents who compared him, according to the NR report, to Adolf Hitler. “But there are 5.5 million people in this state, and those taxpayers also have a right to be heard. I, for one, am not going to let the protesters overshadow, or shout out, the interest of the state’s taxpayers. And I believe that they are with us in trying to balance this budget.”
The previous month, the then-National Review correspondent wrote a detailed account of the political career of the “unapologetic conservative” up to February 2011. Costa pointed out how Walker had won — against all odds — the race for Milwaukee County Executive in 2002 on a “red meat” reform platform and included a quote from the governor comparing his own leadership style to Ronald Reagan’s.
The next year, Costa reported on the fierce recall election facing Walker, a direct result of the one-term executive’s efforts to limit the collective bargaining of state employees. In one piece, he mentioned how the economy of Wisconsin had improved under his watch and how his reforms were popular with most Wisconsinites. In another, the political reporter analyzed how Walker’s legislation had spurred a decline in union power in the state. This was depicted as a development welcomed by many in the Badger State.
Walker went on to win his recall election with 53 percent of the vote — more than he received in his first successful race for the governor’s seat in 2010.
Costa departed National Review for The Washington Post in January 2014.
Both Walker and his team attacked the question about Obama’s faith from Costa and his colleague Dan Balz Saturday.
“To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” the “unapologetic conservative” shot back during the interview. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”
A spokeswoman for Walker later told the reporters that it was a “gotcha question.”