“The former professional football player and first-time candidate announced his highly anticipated Senate campaign on Aug. 25, and since then, he has proceeded to hold no public events, nor has Walker granted media access to local Georgia press, although he has spoken with Fox News, Fox radio and, over Labor Day weekend, Fox Sports, for a total of five interviews.”
“Over the coming weeks, Herschel will conduct a listening tour that will take him to every corner of the state,” the campaign told the Washington Examiner.
The truth that the campaign won’t acknowledge but which animates Walker’s early low-profile is this: Only bad can come from him running anything like a normal campaign right now.
Of course, allegations of threatening behavior against multiple women is not the sort of thing that can — or should — be dismissed regardless of the circumstances.
For Walker, the best strategy at the moment — and likely for the entirety of the campaign — is to be at a remove from voters. Because of his years as a football star — first at the University of Georgia and then in the NFL — Walker is well known to Georgia voters. And, because of his endorsement last week from Donald Trump, Walker should have no problem raising money and consolidating the Trumpist base of the party behind him.
And he can do all that without, well, doing much of anything. All he has to do is play the role of “Herschel Walker” for as long as he possibly can. Walker’s best strategy is, to borrow a basketball metaphor, the four corners offense. He doesn’t have to do much of anything. All he has to do is limit his mistakes. And the best way to do that is to drastically curtail his public appearances, interviews and the like.
Could this come back to bite him? It’s possible — especially since Walker lived in Texas for years prior to deciding to run for Senate this year — that one of his rivals could formulate an attack in which Walker is cast as an absentee candidate who is trying to waltz into the Senate without even really campaigning for the job.
But, none of those candidates will have a) the name ID b) the money and c) the Trump endorsement that Walker already enjoys. Which means that Walker will likely be the Republican nominee — unless something goes drastically wrong (which, of course, can and does happen!).
The issue for Republican strategists in Walker’s inaction to date is that he will need to do far more actual campaigning (and interviews with the media) if he does, as expected, wind up with the Republican Senate nomination. And, as a first-time candidate, he is certain to have hiccups on the trail. From a general election perspective, it would be far better for Walker to make an error in a primary where he is the heavy favorite rather than in a general election where he actually has to persuade people to vote for him.
Early returns, however, suggest that Walker is going to stay out of sight and severely limit his exposure to voters and the media. That’s a short term gain for some likely long-term pain.