Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said voters in his state are about to shift the dynamic of the Republican presidential race.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is on the verge of a victory in Wisconsin that would propel him to the nomination, Walker told Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in an interview set to air Friday on Bloomberg Television's With All Due Respect.
“I really believe looking at the momentum in this state—and certainly we've tried to help create some of that—Ted Cruz wins on Tuesday,” Walker said. “That's the momentum shift. I think that starts him down the path toward people seeing, hey, this has really devolved into a two-person race.”
A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday showed Cruz with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump in Wisconsin, where 42 delegates are up for grabs in Tuesday's primary. Trump is leading the Republican race with 736 delegates, compared 463 for Cruz, the Associated Press estimates. A candidate needs 1,237 to win the nomination.
Walker, a Republican who has endorsed Cruz, declined to criticize Trump during the interview. Instead, Walker kept his focus on what he sees as Cruz's positives.
“Ted Cruz is in this unique position, I believe, to unite the party, because you've got a group of the Republican electorate out there that have been in the caucuses and the primaries who've said, ‘Had it with Washington. I'm fed up. I want an outsider,’” Walker said. “Well, up until recently, I don't think there's a person out there, including all you in the media, who'd say Ted Cruz isn't an outsider. I mean, he's one of the few people I know who didn't just talk that way in a campaign. He got to Washington and actually, oddly enough, did what he said he was going to do.”
Walker, who dropped out of the presidential race in September after low poll numbers and weak fundraising, had urged other candidates to follow suit, which may have prevented Trump from retaining his front-runner status by winning just a plurality of the vote in a crowded field.
“A plurality only beats a majority if a majority is dispersed amongst many,” Walker said in the interview. “So, I'd hoped others would follow me sooner.”
While Trump remains the Republican front-runner, Walker said the billionaire's performance on the campaign trail would soon catch up to him. Trump recently said that if abortion were outlawed, women who undergo the procedure should be punished—a position he later walked back after intense criticism.
“Any of us who are genuinely pro-life know that it's not about assigning blame, but rather just feeling bad about the entire situation, and trying to find ways to avoid that in the first place,” Walker said. “Those are things that people have to look at.”
As for whether he would support Trump should Cruz fail to earn the party's nomination, the governor expressed some reservations, citing his promise in a debate last year to support the party's eventual nominee.
“When I was on the stage still back in Cleveland, I didn’t raise my hand,” Walker said. “Everybody else said, as I did, that ‘I wasn't going to run as the third party, I wasn't going to support anybody else, I’d support the nominee.’ I hope that the nominee after Tuesday's win for Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. Makes it a whole lot easier for me to do that.”