Walker urges ‘prizefighter’ Trump to attend GOP debate. He also wants to lower the drinking age to 18.

Former Governor Scott Walker urged Trump to attend the first Republican primary debate which is slated to occur in less than two weeks in Milwaukee. He said Trump risks offending Wisconsin voters if he snubs the state

Now at the helm of a young conservative action group co-hosting the first 2024 Republican presidential debate, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is calling on Donald Trump to attend the event slated to take place at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum in two weeks. 

“Convention suggests that with the lead he has in the polls, he shouldn’t show up,” Walker said at a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon. “But, he’s a prizefighter in the ring, and I don’t think he can resist the idea that there’s going to be 8 or 10 people here in Milwaukee with all this national attention and he’s not going to be there.”

“I think there’s a huge risk to offending Wisconsin voters,” Walker added, reminding the audience of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss in Wisconsin to Trump after not campaigning in the state.

Trump lost the state in 2020 by about 20,000 votes. 

The former president and frontrunner for the Republican nomination has not committed to attending the debate as he faces a third indictment, this time over allegations he conspired to overturn the 2020 election. Trump has recently posted on social media that he may use the debate “to consider who I MIGHT consider for Vice President!”

Answering questions at the Milwaukee Press Club and Rotary Club event, Walker shared his thoughts on the current state of the 2024 presidential and senatorial races, lowering the drinking age, the threats against free speech both on college campuses and through Trump’s recent indictment, and his doubts about the Ukrainian invasion. 

Here are some takeaways from the event: 

Walker unsure if Republicans can unseat Baldwin

Walker downplayed Republicans’ chances of unseating incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Madison Democrat who is seeking reelection in 2024 and beat her last GOP opponent by double digits − a giant margin in Wisconsin where statewide races often hinge on a few thousand votes.

“I’ll give her credit,” Walker said. “I think it’s going to be a challenge to unseat her.” 

The former Republican governor said he was disappointed that U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher will not launch a challenge but did not say who he wants to see run against Baldwin.

Walker added that he would not be surprised that even if Baldwin wins the state even if Biden loses to a Republican challenger.

Gallagher, who was the challenger-of-choice among top Washington Republicans, is not the only Republican who has bowed out of the race against Baldwin recently. 

Last week, U.S. Rep Tom Tiffany announced that he will not seek the Senate seat. U.S. Rep Bryan Steil has also said he plans on seeking re-election to the House of Representatives. 

The first official challenger against Baldwin is Rejani Raveendran, a 40-year-old college student at Stevens Point who chairs her college’s Republican Party.

There are also a few political outsiders considered to be looking into challenging Baldwin. Madison businessman Eric Hovde, who lost the Republican Senate primary in 2012, is considering a run as well as former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr, who has floated his own name as a contender. 

Baldwin’s seat is at the top of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s list of states they hope to flip in their bid to wrest control of the Senate after four years of Democratic control.

Walker calls for a lowering the drinking age to 18

Walker has recently found himself caught in the middle of controversy over a tweet that some interpreted as a call to raise the voting age to 21.  

After being asked about the tweet, Walker said that he meant to call for a lowering of the drinking age to 18 instead of raising the voting age to 21. 

Walker doubled down on those calls on Tuesday. 

“Raising the drinking age only pushed it off college campuses and increased binge drinking,” Walker said. “There’s no other way to read the data. If you go to war and die for your country at 18, you should be able to drink.” 

Walker criticizes Supreme Court liberal majority, predicts court will throw out legislative maps

In the week since Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz has taken her seat, the court has found itself embroiled in controversy after the newly empowered liberal majority fired the director of state courts and circumvented the conservative Chief Justice in enacting a new code of conduct. 

These moves have led to both the liberal and conservative justices issuing press releases denouncing the other side’s actions. 

In these administrative changes, the liberals have wrested some of the power held by the Chief Justice since the 1940s like the appointments to the Wisconsin Judicial College, overseeing the state courts director, picking members of state-level judicial committees and the planning and policy advisory committee, and reviewing the court system’s budget, among other matters. These powers and now held by a three-person committee. 

“This is unequivocally the responsibility of the Chief Justice,” Walker added. “There’s no other way around it. This is just a raw political moment. And I think it’s going to set a horrible precedent, not just for the next term, but for years and not decades to come.” 

Walker also predicted that the new majority would throw out the state’s current legislative maps while cautioning the majority to show restraint.

Walker sees threats to free speech in Trump’s indictment

While condemning the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Walker said he does not believe Trump can be held responsible for the sacking of Congress. 

“If you can indict someone for something they said at a podium or on Twitter and then someone else may or may not have acted it out, where do you draw the line?” Walker said. 

Walker compared prosecuting Trump for calling on his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol to fight, just before the insurrection took place, to charging U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for making critical comments of Republicans before a left-leaning activist shot Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise during a mass shooting of a congressional baseball game in 2017.

“I think it’s really really difficult if you separate Trump his politics and personality and apply to this to other people in similar circumstances and see a pattern,” he added. 

When asked about the possibility of prosecuting a group of Wisconsin Republicans who signed paperwork falsely claiming to be electors for Trump as part of a scheme to keep Trump in power, Walker said “(people) were wasting far too much time talking about things happening in the past as opposed to looking at how to correct those things going forward.”

Walker says there aren’t clear distinctions of right and wrong in Ukraine 

“I don’t know that there is a clear distinction of what’s exactly right or wrong. I think there are variations,” Walker said on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Walker was using Ukraine as an example of history students should be taught in college adding that “have we really looked at what’s happened generations before.” 

“I think there’s a lot to learn from Ukraine,” Walker said. “There’s a lot to be learned from looking at generations before, and I’m kind of up in the air.” 

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 that has been condemned by 140 countries and led to an arrest warrant being issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court for war crimes including the kidnapping and murdering of children.

“Be as bold as you can:” Walker offers advice to Trump’s challengers

Reflecting on his own failed candidacy for the presidency in the 2016 campaign, Walker told current challengers of Trump to “be bold.”

“The mistake I made eight years ago was I listened to DC consultants,” Walker said. “I think a lot of voters want to know not just what are your qualifications but why should they not vote for a proven commodity.” 

Walker also said that he believes Vivek Ramaswamy is “being really aggressive in the campaign” in a way that “a lot of supporters of Governor Desantis and others say I wish they were being as bold as (Vivek) is.” 

But he said he is unsure if any of the current challengers will be able to beat Trump. 

“Another candidate could step up and have a dramatic night and suddenly garner a whole bunch of attention because of that,” he said. 


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