Scott Walker Once Gave Jeb Bush's Brother Campaign Advice

A memo the Wisconsin governor wrote in 2000 provides insight into his strategic thinking and national aspirations.

U.S. Sen. Scott Walker (R-WI) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 18, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

It's unknown how long Scott Walker has been thinking about running for president. What is clear is that he has felt he has the political wisdom to advise a national campaign since at least 2000, when he was just a member of the Wisconsin Assembly.

In an "open memo" to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, Walker suggested speaking points and television ads for the brother of the man he now seems likely to face in the 2016 Republican presidential race, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

A link to the memo, which provides insight into Walker's strategic thinking and national aspirations, was shared with Bloomberg by a source unfriendly to the Wisconsin governor. It was originally published on Walker's state assembly campaign website. AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Walker's political committee, Our American Revival, didn't dispute the memo's authenticity.

In the memo, Walker argued his suggestions "reflect the views of the vast majority of undecided voters who want a positive reason to vote for the next President of the United States."

He told Bush that he'd "hit on a theme" in his nomination acceptance address in August 2000 in Philadelphia that should "become the subject of your future ads on television and speeches on the campaign trail." Specifically, Walker listed this quote: "They had their chance for the past eight years and they have not led. We will."

Al Gore answers a question as George W. Bush listens during their third debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 2000.

Al Gore answers a question as George W. Bush listens during their third debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 2000.

JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

It's unclear whether Walker was suggesting his own language or misquoting Bush. In Bush's speech, he made several comments close to that, but never said those exact words, a review of the text shows. The way Bush said it, in several instances, was like this: "They had their chance. They have not led. We will."

Walker pointed out four specific ideas for Bush campaign ads, including one on Social Security.

"Run an ad with a 50 year old man and his parents talking about how the Bush plan preserves Social Security for his parents and then include the man's college age son and have him talk about how the Bush plan ensures that there will be something left for him, too," Walker wrote. "They should all talk about being upset with the politics of the past eight years and that they want a President with the courage to lead."

Walker's campaign advice is not unlike some he might give to himself, should he manage to make it to a general election in 2016: "Point out that Bill Clinton and Al Gore had eight years to work on their 1992 promises," he wrote. "They have not led. George W. Bush will. If this is the message given to the American people between now and November 7, Governor Bush can and will win this election."

After a recount in Florida, Bush did win that election. As Walker prepares to mount his own national campaign, he's likely to receive plenty of unsolicited advice along the way, too.

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