- Views & Opinions
Even while calling for a “civilized” Republican debate in 2016, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker charged on Friday that GOP senators seeking the White House haven’t accomplished anything.
The 47-year-old two-term governor was the first of five Republican presidential prospects to appear at a luxury mountainside resort in Utah, where 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney was hosting a private gathering at a luxurious spa with his top donors.
Despite Walker’s provocation, none of the other speakers attacked him for a broad range of high-profile failures, including presiding over a state that ranks last in business start-up activity, has the fastest shrinking middle class, has one of the worst job-growth rates, and faces more than a $2 billion deficit. Walker has been plagued with corruption charges, disappearing taxpayer money and arrests among his top advisors. He’s slashed spending on schools — at some points more than any other governor in the nation.
Bot others who spoke, including Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in addition to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, gave Walker a free pass on all those fiascos — and many more
Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that his party may be going down a “death spiral” if it doesn’t embrace minority and younger voters.
Both Graham and another potential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said the eventual nominee must get on board with an immigration overhaul or risk losing the presidency.
“Nobody is going to vote for a party that’s going to break their family apart,” Graham said.”
Kasich also urged Republicans to accommodate many of the immigrants who are living in the country illegally. “They’ve been God-fearing, hard-working people in many cases,” he said.
They were among the 2016 contenders pitching for the support of about 300 top political donors and strategists connected to Romney. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also was appearing and former technology executive Carly Fiorina is on Saturday’s schedule — after a morning skeet-shooting session led by Graham.
Walker said his party’s 2016 presidential class should be divided into two groups. “There are fighters and there are winners,” the Wisconsin governor said, describing the fighters as the senators in the race.
“They have yet to win anything and accomplish anything.”
Rubio did not engage Walker but drew a sharp contrast between the older and younger crop of candidates.
“Yesterday is over,” the 44-year-old Florida senator declared, repeating a common theme designed to distinguish himself from leading Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush. “The old ways of doing things aren’t working anymore.”
“Some have said I should have waited my turn,” Rubio said. “I didn’t know there was a line.”
Bush was invited to Romney’s gathering, but was in Europe on Friday.
Romney’s invitation-only event gave the Republican contenders an opportunity to connect with 250 leading donors and political operatives.
Some attendees started their day hiking with Romney and his wife at 6 a.m. Others played flag football with Rubio. Among other activities: a hot air balloon ride, outdoor yoga and horseback riding with Ann Romney.\