President Donald Trump is coming to central Wisconsin on Oct. 24 for a campaign rally, but don’t expect Scott Walker to be seen with him. In fact, don’t be surprised if Trump doesn’t even mention Walker.
Trump announced this week that he’ll hold a rally at the Mosinee airport. Located just south of Wausau, the airport is in a part of the state that went strongly for Trump in 2016.
The announcement of the visit says Trump will talk about the need for voters to expand Republican majorities in the House and Senate. It specifically mentions supporting Republican Leah Vukmir, who is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
But there's no mention of Walker, who was last seen with Trump in late June, when he came Wisconsin for the groundbreaking on Foxconn Technology Group’s controversial factory under construction in Mount Pleasant.
Trump is not neglecting Walker due to their once-bitter rivalry. In 2015, when Walker abruptly abandoned his presidential campaign due to its disastrous financial mismanagement, he called on other Republican candidates also to drop out and clear the field for someone other than Trump.
“Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top,” Walker said at a Madison news conference on September 22, 2015. “With this in mind, I am suspending my campaign immediately.”
Since then, Walker has “evolved” into one of Trump’s greatest cheerleaders and enablers. So, why won’t Trump appear with Walker to boost his prospects in a tough re-election battle?
The Washington Post reported that Trump’s aides have urged him to steer clear of Wisconsin’s embattled governor precisely because the race is so close. White House advisers apparently warned Trump that the midterm elections will be seen as a referendum on his presidency, and he must avoid campaigning for candidates who lose.
“I am on the ticket,” Trump told a crowd of followers in Mississippi on Oct. 18. And, for now at least, that could explain why he’s steering clear of prospective losers like Scott Walker.
But that rationale fails to explain why Trump is campaigning for Vukmir, who’s a much likelier looser. Her polling has been consistently double digits behind incumbent Baldwin, while at least one recent poll showed Walker leading his Democratic rival Tony Evers. And ever since Trump won, Walker and Vukmir have bowed to Trump with equal enthusiasm and praised his policy decisions.
So, maybe it’s Walker who’s keeping his distance from Trump, who's popularity is under water in the state overall.