An autopsy of Scott Walker’s presidential campaign by Politico has revealed interesting claims that Walker’s wife may have played a significant role in his campaign’s final demise.
Politico’s write-up focuses on a variety of problems that helped torpedo Walker’s campaign far earlier than anybody expected: Too many campaign workers, poor debate preparation, and an abrupt drop-off in donations. But besides those issues, Politico says, there was also staff friction created by the heavy involvement of his wife Tonette Walker in the campaign’s operations.
“Campaign sources said Tonette Walker, the Wisconsin first lady, had never warmed to [campaign manager Rick] Wiley,” the article says. “During a visit to campaign HQ shortly after the first debate, she wanted to know why her husband hadn’t used all his allotted time in answers (a mistake he repeated in the second debate). She made it clear she saw the lapse as a staff failure, which aides took as a shot at Wiley.”
This friction between Tonette and Wiley apparently led to her maneuvering with other members of the campaign to possibly replace him with former Walker aides more to her liking. She also arranged a secret meeting at the Walker home with a handful of longtime supporters, to which Wiley wasn’t invited. It was that meeting, held on Monday morning, which resulted in the final decision to suspend Walker’s run.
According to The Washington Post, at the meeting Tonette discouraged Walker from trying a Hail Mary strategy proposed by Wiley that would involve drastically cutting staff and campaigning solely in Iowa:
“The governor — who made a show of his frugal lifestyle — was averse to taking on more debt. His instincts were reinforced by Tonette Walker, perhaps his closest adviser. ‘He bounces things off her, and he always gets an honest answer,’ said a friend of the couple. ‘And, the honest answer was: It’s time to get out.'”
A friend of Tonette defended her role in her husband’s campaign.
“People mistake her honesty for combativeness,” the friend told Politico. “I’m sorry the staff didn’t like her reality check.” Tonette’s personal aide Aly Higgins said she “is protective of her family and has strong instincts, and a clear view of right and wrong.”
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