Scott Walker's sad comeback strategy: A halfhearted Donald Trump imitation

Now that he's fallen in Iowa, Scott Walker plans to incoherently turn even harder right on immigration

Published August 18, 2015 12:00PM (EDT)

  (AP/Reuters/John Locher/Yuri Gripas/David Maung/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/Reuters/John Locher/Yuri Gripas/David Maung/Photo montage by Salon)

The great thing about Scott Walker's precipitous fall from the top in Iowa, other than how it sharply diminishes the chances of terrible Scott Walker becoming president, is that now we get to watch him go Full Hot Mess in what's sure to be a comical effort to retake his crown as King of Iowa.

"Sure to be a comical effort" because he's going to try to ape the figure who now leads him in Iowa, Donald Trump. Only problem is that Walker doesn't have the same confidence as Trump to pull it off. "Confidence." Is that the right word? What we mean is, Scott Walker is someone who does care about the words that come out of his mouth, occasionally, putting him at a distinct disadvantage to Trump, who obviously does not and yet continues being rewarded for this.

Trump just released a typically colorful immigration policy paper. It calls directly for an end to birthright citizenship -- something that would require a constitutional amendment and necessitate the mass deportation of children. The paper also goes into detail (as much detail as exists for such a thing) about Trump's plan to complete a border wall with Mexico and have Mexico pay for it. He would achieve this by dramatically increasing regional tensions with Mexico and cutting off remittances for Mexican families of U.S. immigrants.

It's no matter that none of this is feasible, desirable, or likely to help Donald Trump's chances of winning a general election matchup against Hillary Clinton. Right now, this is electric shit in terms of winning a Republican primary.

And so Scott Walker, needing a boost, is trying to claim credit for Donald Trump's hilarious-if-it-weren't-so-vile immigration plan.

“It’s similar to what I brought up about four or five months ago,” the GOP presidential candidate said Monday on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” when asked about Trump’s plan.

Walker wouldn’t explicitly endorse the plan when asked by host Steve Doocy if he would give it a “thumbs up,” but compared it to the plan he outlined on a March appearance on “Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace.

“I haven’t looked at all the details of his but the things I’ve heard are very similar to the things I mentioned to Chris Wallace on the show earlier this year,” he said.

The Trump plan is aces, to Scott Walker. What Walker especially likes is the big-ass wall on the border. It reminds him of that other noble stockade thousands of miles away, separating Israel from the Palestinian territories. If there's anything that just screams common-sense, humanitarian, amicable statecraft, it's that blunt symbol of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But what about ending birthright citizenship? Trump isn't the first presidential hopeful to dabble with such an idea. Would Scott Walker also support it?

NBC News' Kasie Hunt posed the question to Walker on Monday during his appearance at the Iowa state fair. NBC applies the headline "Scott Walker: end birthright citizenship," though we're not sure he's going that far. Instead, because he's Scott Walker, he starts out as though he's going to support it, before realizing that that might not be the smartest long-term political move and ultimately reverting to a dodge where he just says "enforce the laws" over and over.

KASIE HUNT: Do you think that birthright citizenship should be ended?

SCOTT WALKER: Well, like I said, Harry Reid said it’s not right for this country — I think that’s something we should, yeah, absolutely, going forward —

HUNT: We should end birthright citizenship?

WALKER: Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we’re going to enforce the laws in this country.

HUNT: And you should deport the children of people who are illegal immigrants?

WALKER: I didn’t say that — I said you have to enforce the law, which to me is focusing on E-Verify.

A classic case of an inept, poor-on-his-feet candidate trying to negotiate primary and general election incentives and in the process forgoing coherence. Fortunately his spokespeople came in right quick to clear up any confusion that might be out there.

“We have to enforce the laws, keep people from coming here, enforce E-Verify to stop the jobs magnet, and by addressing the root problems we will end the birthright citizenship problem.”

Okay nevermind, that's even more garbled than the on-the-fly nonsense that Walker himself delivered.

How do we put this nicely: Scott Walker may not have the political skills needed to pull off a come-from-behind victory in a field of 17 candidates.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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