While several candidates in the crowded Republican presidential primary field were aiming criticism at each other, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a largely scripted approach in Thursday night’s first debate.
Walker, one of ten candidates appearing on stage during the Fox News debate in Cleveland, Ohio, used what time he had to lay out his candidacy to viewers, sticking largely to positions he’s already mentioned on the campaign trail.
When he did lash out against anyone with criticism, it was typically Democrats Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama. “Everywhere in the world that Hillary Clinton touched is more messed up today than before,” Walker said of the Democratic frontrunner.
Responding to a question on foreign policy by referencing a recent cyber-attack linked to China, Walker quipped “It’s sad to think right now, but probably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s email server than members of the United States Congress.”
Walker criticized Clinton’s support for Planned Parenthood, while answering a question on whether his stance on opposing abortion, even in cases where the life of a mother is at risk, puts him out of touch with the majority of Americans. Walker said “I’ve got a position I think is consistent with many Americans out there, in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection.” He also noted that he defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, before the latest controversy erupted surrounding secretly recorded videos.
Much of the evening was dominated by attacks between some of the other candidates, including real estate mogul Donald Trump, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Walker trailed many of the others in terms of time on screen, speaking for less than six minutes during the two hour debate. Trump led the field with time spent talking, clocking in at more than ten minutes.
In his closing statement, Walker detailed his track record as governor in fighting unions and pushing for reforms, while making the case for why he’s a normal guy. Walker said “I’m a guy with a wife, two kids, and a Harley. One article called me ‘aggressively normal.'”
Walker returns to the campaign trail on Friday, with stops in Ohio, then on to Georgia and South Carolina this weekend.