As the field of Republican presidential candidates takes the stage tonight, Governor Scott Walker is in a very different place than where he was just a month ago.
The Wisconsin governor has lost his strong position as a front runner in Iowa, to a point where he is now trailing other GOP candidates and polling in the single digits in crucial Iowa and New Hampshire. Madison College political scientist Maurice Sheppard says Walker needs to be more assertive than he was in the first debate, if he wants to regain his place in the crowded field.
Walker took a much more measured and scripted approach during the first GOP debate in August, while leveling most of his attacks at Democrat Hillary Clinton instead of other Republicans. Now, Sheppard says “he really needs to be much more proactive, and instead of responding to someone’s policy agenda, he needs to start to establish his own voice.”
Since August, Walker and most of the other Republican hopefuls have struggled to pick up ground against real estate developer Donald Trump and retired surgeon Ben Carson. Sheppard says Trump and Carson have “taken the air out of the room” for most of the field, and a poor performance tonight could result in trouble ahead…especially if donors start to back away from candidates who are struggling in the polls. “A lot of it will depend on…how well they perform in the debate, and if their backers and donors are willing to continue to fund their efforts.”
The debate on CNN will air in Wisconsin starting at 7 this evening.