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Inside the Beltway: Scott Walker, instant icon

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Scott Walker's Wisconsin victory has bought the governor instant status as a conservative icon of historic stature among the seasoned observers of many a political race. He's a Republican stalwart, they say, a gutsy guy.

"Since Ronald Reagan left the national stage, many have auditioned for the role of leader of the conservative movement, but no one filled the Gipper's shoes until Scott Walker came on the scene," says ConservativeHQ.com Chairman Richard Viguerie, who is already urging Mitt Romney's handlers to learn from the Walker campaign, one composed "not of pale pastels, but of bold conservative colors," he notes.

"Gov. Walker shares with Reagan a trait that has been sorely lacking in the Republican Party for the past 23 years — a refusal to accept the status quo," Mr. Viguerie continues.

"By standing for conservative principles, Scott Walker traveled the trail Reagan blazed to victory in 1980 and 1984, that Newt Gingrich followed to the Contract With America victory in 1994, and the tea party took to win in 2010. These were big agenda-changing victories, not skin of your teeth wins, such as George W. Bush's in 2000 and 2004."

Onetime Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer praises Mr. Walker "for having the courage of his convictions to fight the good fight," branding the win as "a victory for common sense over powerful special interests." It could inspire other officials to stand up to labor unions, he says. Others insist the election itself sets a precedent.

"Gov. Walker's recall battle in Wisconsin is without a doubt a litmus test for the presidential general election in November," observes FreedomWorks for America campaign manager Josh Eboch, while the Heartland Institute's research director, S.T. Karnick, comments, "The recall election explicitly pitted tax consumers against taxpayers. The taxpayers won."

NOT DONE YET

Determination replaces jubilation in some sectors following Mr. Walker's win.

"It's disappointing, but we're not done fighting for workers' rights. Gov. Scott Walker used his tens of millions in right-wing corporate monies to buy his way out of the recall," says Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers.

Warns James P. Hoffa, president of Teamsters General: "Scott Walker gave a wake-up call to Wisconsin's working families, and they gave it right back. These tea party governors will think twice before they attack workers' rights and the benefits they've earned."

TWO WORDS

Critics fault the White House for indulging in too many glittering fundraisers and celebrity encounters as the nation frets over the economy. Maybe President Obama should have a few close uber-donors in for coffee instead, maybe? Press secretary Jay Carney briefly took on this dichotomy during the daily press "gaggle" aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, ironically as Mr. Obama was jetting across the country for a quartet of campaign events in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"Can I ask you about the California fundraisers, in particular? The president is getting a lot of heat over cavorting with showbiz types. Rush Limbaugh is referring to him as Barack Kardashian, can you believe? What is your response to that?" asked one eager scribe.

"Two words," Mr. Carney replied. "Donald Trump. Next question."

GARY'S DIRECTIONALS

"A Libertarian candidate will come at Barack Obama from the left, and at Mitt Romney from the right."

- (Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, to Comedy Central host Jon Stewart).

A BREITBART MOMENT

Conservatives inspired by the late journalist and cultural gadfly Andrew Breitbart will provide the perfect foil to the progressive Netroots Nation media summit set for Providence, R.I., this weekend. The Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity pay tribute to the "monumental journalistic achievements" of Breitbart with the first Breitbart Awards on Friday.

Yes, the event is in Providence.

"Andrew Breitbart pioneered a new-media revolution that transformed journalism and the political landscape," a spokesman explains. "As his tragic passing is mourned, many seek to ensure his legacy is honored and that the movement he spawned continues with the army of citizen activists he cultivated."

On hand for the honors: Breitbart News executives Steve Bannon and Larry Solov, John Fund, senior editor of the American Spectator, and Sonnie Johnson, president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation's Virginia chapter and a tea party activist.

The tenacious award winners? A round of Beltway applause for the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein, the incisive blogger "Ace of Spades" from the website of the same name, plus citizen journalist Andrew Marcus. All were chosen based on their "indomitable pursuit for truth and accountability," the judges say.

POLL DU JOUR

• 60 percent of Americans have a family member or close friend who is gay.

• 57 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of conservatives and 54 percent of tea partyers do too.

• 63 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of liberals and 59 percent of independents do as well.

• 54 percent of Americans overall think same-sex marriage should be recognized as legally valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.

• 23 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of conservatives and 28 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 70 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of liberals and 60 percent of independents also agree.

• 34 percent overall say a "homosexual can change their sexual orientation if they choose to."

• 40 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of conservatives and 44 percent of tea partyers agree.

• 30 percent of Democrats, 27 percent of liberals and 34 percent of independents also agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,009 U.S. adults conducted May 29 to 31 and released Wednesday.

Heroic utterances, trite observations, polite applause to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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