Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker never mentioned his failed presidential bid — or anyone else's — while speaking to a gathering of conservative leaders and activists on Thursday.
"No matter what you think about what’s happening in the presidential election, you can’t give up," Walker told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. Avoiding the presidential race and the party's distress over front-runner Donald Trump, Walkers' address at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at Maryland's National Harbor sounded like an attempt to reassure and motivate the audience. He repeatedly circled back to the mission of spreading conservatism across the states and avoiding the election that's on most Americans' minds.
He touted the work he and other Republican governors have done in the states, suggesting the Republican leadership in Congress should thank state-level Republicans for, among other things, "sucking up union money."
He pointed to his own efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and make the Badger State a right-to-work state as examples of what Republican chief executives can do in blue states.
President Barack Obama, Walker said, has been the best recruiter the GOP could ask for. Across the states, Republicans, he said, are “trying to take America back one community at a time" and have opportunities to defend executive mansions in places like Indiana and North Carolina, and expand the party's hold on the states in West Virginia, New Hampshire and Montana. Even in Vermont — Sen. Bernard Sanders' home turf, he pointed out — the party could flip the executive seat. "Good policy is good politics," Walker said. And why, Walker asked, was he "preaching to the choir?"
"We can’t be satisfied just sharing this message in safe confines like this today," he said. "Don't be afraid to share that message." Contact Pathe at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @sfpathe. Related: Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.