Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker dismissed talk of the 2016 White House race as he promoted his new book Friday—but described an ideal candidate that looks just like him: “An ideal candidate to me would be a current or former governor,” Walker said. “Just because I think governors have executive experience and, more importantly, I think there’s a real sense across America that people want an outsider.”
Walker is hardly the only one these days denying a focus on the White House race, while at the same time describing the perfect candidate as someone a lot like himself. The hopefuls may be playing coy about their own intentions at this early stage, but they’re certainly willing to paint a picture of what the GOP nominee should look like—and if it comes out as a self-portrait, then so be it.
A rundown from the past week:
— Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s Political Capital With Al Hunt: “What I think the next president should be is someone who’s leading the fight for free-market principles and the Constitution, and someone who’s listening to the American people—not listening to the established politicians.”
— Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at The Wall Street Journal‘s CEO Council, after stating that the nominee did not need to be a governor: “I would like to make sure we get a person who is a standard-bearer who can go the distance,” Ryan said. “I am familiar with what going the distance means, and it means a lot. It is not easy to do.” He added that the nominee should “be strong on principles, inclusive on ideas,” and show people “the full spectrum of conservatism.”
— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also at The Wall Street Journal‘s CEO Council, said the candidate seeking a path to victory in a national race must avoid “focus-group-tested” speeches. “You need someone who’s clear, direct, and authentic and says what they think,” he said.
— Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, at the Republican Governors Association meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.: “When I look at 2016, and I don’t have a candidate that I’m backing, I’m going to be looking not for somebody that says I want to go to Washington, D.C., and run it like I ran where I came from. I want somebody that says I’m going to go to Washington, D.C., and make it more possible for the next person running where I came from to do it with more freedom and flexibility.”
— And finally, give Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., some points for being straightforward: On Monday, he bluntly told Fox News that he thinks Americans want someone like him. “I think they want someone outside of, you know, what’s been going on. For example, someone like myself who has been promoting term limits,” he said. “Someone who says we shouldn’t have, you know, decade after decade longevity up here.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."