Scott Walker is no Donald Trump – and for many Republicans who went to see Walker on Sunday in Rock Hill, that’s exactly why they like the former burger-flipper and son of a preacher man.
“I am not the most bombastic or charismatic candidate,” the Wisconsin governor and darling of the tea party movement admitted to the crowd during the event – in a clear jab at Trump without speaking his name. “But I get things done.”
Trump has blasted women, Mexican immigrants, war hero John McCain, the media and the other candidates – all without down or apologizing. Trump says what he pleases and tells those who dare challenge him that they should drop dead.
Karen Kedrowksi, a Winthrop University political science professor specializing in politics and media, called Walker’s performance Sunday “very impressive,” showing a grasp of the issues, how to hold the crowd and more – without bashing anyone else. Walker could “catch fire” with his low-key approach that conservative voters can grasp, she said.
Kedrowski, dean of Winthrop’s College of Arts and Sciences, said Trump’s recent comments about women, other candidates, the media and others are “truly outrageous” in a campaign or anywhere, for that matter.
Walker, a preacher’s son who worked at a McDonald’s flipping burgers as a teen, made sure the crowd knew that he came from humble roots. One set of Walker’s grandparents were farmers who did not have an indoor toilet until later in life, and another grandfather was a machinist.
Quite a contrast with that other fellow, the son of a real estate tycoon.
Trump openly talks of using bankruptcy laws to his advantage, while Walker is proud that he and his wife cut coupons to get shirts on discount from Kohl’s stores. After the event, Walker told The Herald in a one-on-one interview that Trumps’ comments have no place in a presidential contest.
Many among the standing-room-only crowd said Trump’s antics have gone too far.
Neva Helms called Walker “presidential” and “a proven leader,” while Trump is not.
Brenda Brown was more blunt in her assessment of the candidate still leading in most GOP polls: “Donald Trump is a bully.”
In South Carolina polls, however, Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush –who will speak at Winthrop on Aug. 18 – are tied at the top, ahead of Trump.
Other voters in Sunday’s crowd in Rock Hill did not discount Trump, saying he is speaking for a huge number of people who are fed up with illegal immigration and political correctness, among other things.
One woman who declined to give her name said, “Trump is saying things that need to be said, but he’s the only one with the guts to say them.”
Yet another woman from Chester said in a whisper to Kedrowski, “Trump is just full of hot air.”
But even Trump’s detractors at Walker’s Rock Hill campaign event conceded that Trump is not boring.
Trump has not visited Rock Hill, but the hope is that he soon will, so GOP primary voters can see – and hear – for themselves.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065; firstname.lastname@example.org