These type of questions are designed just for Republicans! And their purpose is to move the attention away from what might be a candidate’s winning stance on issues and toward an issue that does not win votes.
Yesterday Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gave the wrong answer to a ridiculous media question from the second time in less than ten days. The most recent Walker trip up took place during the winter National Governor’s Association meeting, and the question was whether he believed President Obama was a Christian. Walker’s belief doesn’t matter, his answer should have been something like, ” I think his policies are awful, but there is no reason to doubt him when he says he’s a Christian.”
Instead the Wisconsin governor answered:
Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion.
“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that,” Walker said, his voice calm and firm. “I’ve never asked him that,” he added. “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”
The only person in the GOP who can be happy about Walker’s statement is Rudy Giuliani and only because Walker’s dumb statement may draw some attention away from Giuliani’s statement when is doubted if Obama loved America. Rudy may truly believe that the President doesn’t love America, but his statement obscured the Mayor’s real message which was Obama’s failure in the war on terrorism.
Ten days ago Walker flubbed his first inappropriate reporter’s question:
Supposedly on a trade mission to Great Britain (but really to pick up some foreign affairs bone fides) Wisconsin Gov. and possible GOP candidate for president Scott Walker, was speaking at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute based in London was asked by a British moderator if he feels comfortable with the idea of evolution. He chose not to respond, “I’m going to punt on that one as well, that’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one.”
The next day Walker gave a much better answer, “I think God created the Earth,” Walker said. “I think science and my faith aren’t incompatible.”
What I don’t understand is why Scott Walker didn’t anticipate these type of questions. Why his staff didn’t grill and practice on responding to theses silly questions in a way that didn’t damage his brand.
On Friday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was asked one of those silly types of question on by Florida TV Station WBPF. He was asked about Giuliani’s remarks that Obama didn’t love America. His answer was perfect:
“I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim,” Rubio responded, “Democrats aren’t asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don’t know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I’ll suffice it to say that I believe the president loves America; I think his ideas are bad.”
With that answer Senator Rubio demonstrated he was ready for prime time, but Walker’s two answers demonstrate that perhaps he needs more training before he gets on the national stage.
It doesn’t matter whether or not one believes what Walker said is true, those who want to see Walker in the White House should be concerned because Obama’s religion is not a winning argument for 2016 for Walker or for the GOP.
I am reminded of 2010 incident between Andrew Breitbart and WND’s Joseph Farrah backstage at a February 6th Tea Party Convention.
At the convention Farrah said that the “Birther movement” was a key
part of the Tea Party agenda, a thought that seemed to be rejected by
most of the people at the convention. After his speech Andrew Breitbart
and Farrah had a heated conversation about the speech and Brietbart’s
correct assertion the birther argument is “not a winning issue.”
This is how the spat was covered by Hot Air at the time:
Farah claimed that the Tea Party movement was partially fueled on the notion that Barack Obama isn’t really a native-born citizen of the US. When WND reporter Chelsea Schilling asked Breitbart- to comment on Farah’s speech, he criticized the attack and said the Tea Party movement would do better to focus on substance. Weigel asked Farah for a response, which led Farah to start an argument:
I told Farah that his speech was getting negative attention already, and that Breitbart, who’d taken the stage after him, had criticized the “birther” parts of the speech. Farah shook his head and walked over to Breitbart in what seemed like an attempt to debunk my question.
“Andrew is my friend,” said Farah. “He has the right to disagree, and he has the right to say anything to a socialist newspaper that he wants. And if he wants to criticize his friend to you, and he’s dumb enough to do that…”
Breitbart raised his eyebrows. “I’m dumb to do what?”
“Criticize your friend to this socialist newspaper.”
“I was talking to her,” said Breitbart, pointing to Schilling. “I was talking to you. And I was saying that I disagreed on the birther stuff.”
“OK, well, did you know that Dave Weigel from The Washington Independent was”–
“I was talking to her,” said Breitbart. “She was asking me if I thought it was right to bring it up, and I said, no. We have a lot of strong arguments to be making, and that is a primary argument. That is an argument for the primaries that did not take hold. The arguments that these people right here are making are substantive arguments. The elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were all won not on birther, but on substance. And to apply to this group of people the concept that they’re all obsessed with the birth certificate, when it’s not a winning issue–”
“It is a winning issue!”
“It’s not a winning issue.”
Andrew Breitbart was correct when he corrected Farah five years ago, it wasn’t a winning issue, and the “gotcha questions” asked by reporters today can lead to answers which trap a campaign in a quagmire of issues that will dominate the press but prevent a candidate’s real policies and positions to get the sunlight of media coverage. And without that sunlight of media coverage a campaign will die.