Scott Walker Tuning Up For 2016

The Wisconsin governor starts taking jabs at potential rivals.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at his election night party November 4, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Photograph by Darren Hauck/Getty Images

In his three elections over four years, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took on unions, two Democratic opponents, and millions in spending by outside groups. Over the weekend, he seemed to have found his next target. 

Less than a week after winning re-election, Walker seems to have already set his sights on the 2016 presidential race. Appearing Sunday on "Meet the Press," Walker was asked whether he'd defer a presidential bid if his fellow Wisconsinite, Representative Paul Ryan, decides to run. Walker responded with some seriously backhanded praise, suggesting that Ryan might be too much of a Capitol insider.

“I love Paul Ryan. I've said many times before, I'd be the president of Paul Ryan fan club. But I do think if we're going to beat Hillary Clinton in this next election, we've got to have a message that says, 'Hillary Clinton is all about Washington,'” he said.

This wasn't Walker's only jab at a potential 2016 rival. In an interview published Saturday, he also criticized Republican governors who accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid under Obamacare—a group that includes Ohio Governor John Kasich. 

Kasich has cast his decision  in biblical terms, saying when he dies, St. Peter will ask how he helped the poor, not what he did to keep government small. “You better have a good answer,” he has said.

Walker responded with his own interpretation. “It's probably not fair to ask the son of a preacher to use biblical metaphors,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “My reading of the Bible finds plenty of reminders that it's better to teach someone to fish than to give them fish if they're able. ... Caring for the poor isn't the same as taking money from the federal government to lock more people into Medicare.”

And in the final days of the midterms, Walker also jabbed at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, suggesting that the head of the Republican Governors Association wasn't giving him enough help in his campaign. 

“[Christie] is coming because he asked if he could come,  and we weren’t going to say no,” Walker said. “But we're not looking for surrogates.”

If they all decided to run, Kasich, Ryan, and Christie would compete with Walker for the same fiscally conservative, establishment Republican voters. And Walker isn't the only one of the group taking steps toward a presidential bid.

With as many as a dozen Republicans weighing the option, the situation was bound to get a bit nasty. Walker, it seems, is getting there.

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