- The Washington Times - Monday, July 13, 2015

Every successful presidential candidate has a political whisperer, the one adviser with the stature to both channel the candidate’s message and say “no” when it needs to be said.

Ronald Reagan had William Casey, Bill Clinton had James Carville, George W. Bush had Karl Rove, and Barack Obama had David Axelrod.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who became the newest entrant into the 2016 presidential race on Monday, made his political mentor his campaign chairman as well, making unequivocally clear that Wisconsin lawyer and longtime conservative activist Mike Grebe will be his political whisperer.

In an interview with The Washington Times hours before announcing his campaign formally, Mr. Walker described why he has come to trust Mr. Grebe so much over the last quarter-century.

“I’ve know Mike for 25 years, all the way back to when I was first on the executive board of the state party. And I was just a punk back then, and Mike, even back then, was a statesman,” Mr. Walker said.

“He is quiet and unassuming because he is so humble,” he added. “But he has a major national presence when it comes to the conservative movement.”

Soft-spoken and cerebral, the 74-year-old Mr. Grebe has been a towering political figure in Wisconsin for decades, reviving the GOP in the once-progressive-leaning state and helping top Republicans from Gov. Tommy G. Thompson in the 1980s on down navigate tricky political waters.

A West Point graduate and former managing partner of Milwaukee’s largest law firm until 2002, Mr. Grebe has served as a member and general counsel of the Republican National Committee and chaired Ronald Reagan’s Wisconsin campaign in 1984 as well as Mr. Thompson’s campaigns.

And he has been a major funder of conservative causes across the country through his perch as the president of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee, one of the most influential and respected right-leaning nonprofits in America. His work in that venue has often been lauded for helping maintain an intellectual consistency to the modern conservative movement.

The word most associated with Mr. Grebe when one talks to the current generation of Wisconsin Republican politicians is “mentor,” which is exactly how Mr. Walker described him some weeks ago in a closed-door meeting of Washington conservatives.

At that meeting, Gov. Walker was asked by a leading conservative upon whom he relied for advice. Mr. Walker didn’t hesitate, saying, “All I can tell you is that from the day I became active in politics, I have sought the counsel and advice of the man I consider my political and philosophical mentor, Mike Grebe.” The crowd broke into applause.

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