CLEVELAND — Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday added his voice to the torrent of criticism aimed at the Democratic nominee during the Republican National Convention this week, saying “America deserves better than Hillary Clinton.”
In a call-and-response routine, the preacher’s son from Wisconsin urged the raucous crowd of thousands to shout out why they support Republican prescriptions to problems facing the country: “Because America deserves better.”
The Wisconsin delegation distributed red and white signs to delegates throughout the Quicken Loans Arena convention floor proclaiming a similar message.
“The simple truth is liberal Washington insiders created these problems. And Hillary Clinton is the ultimate liberal Washington insider. If she were any more on the inside, she’d be in prison,” Walker said, in a winking nod to one of the convention’s trademark anti-Clinton chants, “Lock her up!”
A year ago, Walker had hoped to stand on the stage here — except a day later, when he would be accepting the GOP nomination for president. Instead, after a short-lived candidacy that ended with him calling on other candidates to clear the way for a conservative alternative to Donald Trump, he delivered a case for supporting the GOP nominee.
“Last August, I said that any of the Republicans running would be better than Hillary Clinton. I meant it then, and I mean it now,” Walker said. “So let me be clear: A vote for anyone other than Donald Trump in November is a vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Wisconsin delegate Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, wearing a Green Bay Packers cap and holding an “America deserves better” sign, described the speech as awesome.
“I’d love to see him being our nominee, but the reality is it’s not happening,” Tittl said. “But he followed through on the pledge that he made on that stage to support and endorse the presumptive nominee, and I’m glad that Scott Walker is a man of his word.”
Wisconsin Republicans at the convention said Wednesday they mostly supported the heated anti-Clinton rhetoric, while acknowledging the messaging would soon need to shift to why they believe Donald Trump is the better candidate.
“The country needs constant reminders of her disregard for the law,” said delegate Jim Geld-reich, chairman of the Washington County GOP. “However, I think at some point the message will shift from that to what a President Trump will do for this country.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he thought the convention had been well orchestrated so far and that “taking the first two days to remind Americans about the total abject failure of Hillary Clinton and her failure is probably a good thing to unify the party.” Soon enough, Vos said, the focus will move from complaints about Clinton to “solutions that are offered by Republicans all across the country.”
Democrats say the focus on bashing Clinton shows that Republicans are unhappy with Trump as their nominee.
“The outright racism, the xenophobia that’s been running rampant throughout this convention, the dripping hatred they seem to have for Hillary Clinton, it’s just more of a rabid, good old boys club than anything else,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan in a conference call with reporters.
In a fundraising appeal immediately after Walker’s speech, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin wrote, “Wisconsin deserves better.”
Not all Republican delegates were excited by the Clinton bashing.
“Attacking Hillary Clinton, while fun, is counterproductive,” said Rohn Bishop, an alternate delegate who is treasurer of the Fond du Lac County Republican Party. “Everyone already knows she’s a crook. This convention is a chance for Donald Trump and his family to show America who Mr. Trump is, and that they can trust him, and find him acceptable to being the president.”
Republican delegate Jim Miller, GOP chairman of the 7th Congressional District, said the Clinton bashing is “not really my style,” but he understands why it’s done.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.