Former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, who has a financial relationship with Gov. Scott Walker, is using his Washington Post column to lavish praise on the Wisconsin Republican and help position him for a 2016 presidential run.
In 2013, Thiessen co-authored Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge with Walker. According to the book's publisher, Unintimidated “tells the dramatic story of how one brave leader drove real change in his state, and what the rest of the country can learn from him. ... It's not just a memoir -- it's a call to action.”
A few months ago, Post reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa documented the trend of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates attempting to “study up on issues and cultivate ties to pundits and luminaries from previous administrations.” Among those listed was Walker, whom they reported has “developed a bond with Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen.” According to the Post, “when Thiessen helped Walker write the governor's memoir, they talked via Skype about many issues.”
The Post reported after the book's announcement that considering Walker's looming re-election campaign and possible 2016 presidential run, “writing a book with a high-profile GOP strategist is a notable step onto the national stage.” Thiessen's help in getting Walker on the national stage isn't limited to the book -- he has also devoted significant column space to praising him, often at the expense of potential 2016 rivals.
Given his career of service to Republicans in the White House and on Capitol Hill, Thiessen's support for Walker at the Post may preface a future role with a Walker campaign or administration.
In his latest column, titled “Romney 2016? Nooooo!” Thiessen addressed the speculation that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may run for president again in 2016, an idea Thiessen strongly opposes.
While he thinks Romney is an “utterly decent man” who would be a far better current president than Barack Obama, Thiessen nonetheless ran through a series of Romney's “huge tactical errors” and “lack of vision,” speculating that he “got the  nomination because he was running in one of the weakest fields the GOP had ever put forward.” Thiessen's critique resembles the criticisms Walker leveled at Romney's campaign in Unintimidated.
If polls are to be believed, squelching another Romney run is critical for conservative supporters of Walker and other potential 2016 candidates. As Thiessen explained, "A USA Today poll shows Romney with a huge lead in Iowa, far ahead of 14 other potential GOP candidates."
Looking ahead to 2016, Thiessen posited that “Republicans have a much stronger field of potential candidates to choose from” including “successful governors” like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Walker, among others. While Thiessen usually discloses his ties to Walker when writing about the Republican governor, their connection sometimes goes unmentioned when he writes about Walker's potential 2016 opponents.
In May, Thiessen wrote about the “coming 2016 foreign policy brawl.” After devoting significant space to bashing potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Thiessen turned his sights to a series of important foreign policy questions that the GOP needs to resolve in a 2016 primary. Embedded in his questions was a jab at potential 2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul, whose foreign policy Thiessen lumped in with Obama's:
Do Republicans believe that “the tide of war is receding”? Or are dangerous enemies still actively plotting to attack us? Does the GOP want to see America actively engaged in shaping world events? Or do Republicans agree with Obama and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that the time has come to step back from the world and “focus on nation-building here at home”?
Thiessen's attempts to set Walker up as a viable 2016 contender have occasionally been more overt. In a November 2013 column published a week after Unintimidated, Thiessen labeled “tea party hero” Walker “the anti-Christie.” Thiessen declared that unlike Chris Christie or Sen. Ted Cruz, Walker is “the only potential 2016 candidate who appeals” to both people in the GOP who want an “unapologetic conservative” as well as those who want a candidate that “can appeal to independent voters in the center and thus win the presidency.”
After plugging Walker's “surprising crossover appeal” and “conservative reforms,” Thiessen concluded that while there are “many compelling potential standard-bearers” in the GOP's ranks, Walker nonetheless stands out:
Walker survived the 2012 recall by mobilizing his conservative base with his courageous, unflinching stand -- and appealing to persuadable, reform-minded, results-oriented independents, who provided the critical margin of victory. That is precisely what Republicans need to do nationally if they want to win back the presidency in 2016.
Walker delivers everything Christie does it terms of appealing to the center -- but without the ideological compromise. And he delivers everything Ted Cruz does in terms of taking the fight to the left -- but without the losing.
So will he run? In the course of collaborating on our new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge,” I spent dozens of hours with Walker. In all those conversations, the one thing I never asked him about, and he never raised, was 2016. So I have absolutely no idea what he will ultimately decide. I do know that he loves being governor of Wisconsin -- and no one has ever fought harder to keep that job. I also know that the GOP has many compelling potential standard-bearers, Christie included.
But none is better positioned to energize the conservative grassroots while winning the center than Scott Walker.
Thiessen has also used his column to help bolster Walker's 2014 re-election campaign. In a July column, Thiessen explained to readers that despite the governor's race being up in the air, "[Walker] has certainly amassed a record of achievement that should make him a shoe-in for reelection."
Thiessen is perhaps best known for his 2010 book Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, which offers an unapologetic defense of the Bush administration's use of torture as an interrogation technique.