Speaking in South Carolina Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker alluded indirectly to the recent departure of a communications aide he had brought onto his political team after she had drawn fire over tweets she sent about Iowa, an early presidential state.
“One of my clear rules is, if you’re going to be on our team, whether on the paid staff or a volunteer, what I always say is you need to respect the voters,” Mr. Walker said in Greenville, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. “Because, really, if you think about campaigns, it’s not about the candidate or the staff. It’s about the voter. It’s about how to help people’s lives be better.
“One of the things I’ve stressed … in the last few days as I’ve looked at the possibility of running is you have my firm commitment that I’m going to focus on making sure that the people on my team, should we go forward, are people who respect voters,” Mr. Walker continued.
Liz Mair, who had been brought on to work on online communications efforts for Mr. Walker, stepped down earlier in the week; she had questioned Iowa’s “frontrunning” status in the presidential election contest and had drawn fire from the chairman of the Iowa Republican party.
Confronted with a newly hired staffer’s past comment about women on Thursday in Iowa, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who, like Mr. Walker, is also weighing a run for president in 2016 — told reporters that his own views are the ones that matter.
Iowa operative Jamie Johnson, who worked for former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania last cycle, was brought on to Mr. Perry’s national team earlier in the week. The Des Moines Register said Mr. Johnson wrote a note to a friend in 2011 questioning whether it’s God’s desire to have a female president.
Asked about the note, Mr. Perry said: “Well, I think the last three chiefs of staff in the governor’s office were women, so I would suggest to you that I had some extraordinary talent that was right there at the very top of my organization.”
“I’m the candidate, and my views are the ones that matter,” he said. “Not someone who works with me. And the next president of the United States is going to be decided on who’s got the best vision, optimistic vision, who understands how to get this country back on track — not their gender.”
For his part, Mr. Johnson said in an interview with the Guardian that it was a private message in his role as a pastor, that the words had been taken out of context and were about “theological nuances,” and that he’s perfectly comfortable with women in office.
“Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher have proven for a long time now that women can do anything that men can do and do it well,” he said.