Are Walker protesters hurting or helping his 2016 chances? - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Are Walker protesters hurting or helping his 2016 chances?

Posted: Updated:

MADISON (WKOW) -- As Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) looks to rebuild momentum in the wake of some ebbing poll numbers, could those who have made it their goal to bring him down actually help bolster his chances to capture the 2016 Republican presidential nomination?

Pundits of all political stripes agree it was the 2011 Act 10 protests and the failed 2012 recall effort that put Scott Walker in a position to even challenge for the nomination.

Now, some of those same protesters could be unwittingly helping him once again.

Last Friday, a few dozen union protesters showed up outside of Slyman's Restaurant in Cleveland and turned what would have been a pretty forgettable Walker campaign stop into a raucous scene.

"Get up, get down, Cleveland is a union town!," shouted the protesters on the sidewalk in front of the legendary deli.

Inside, a protester asked Gov. Walker this question: "If you're elected President, are you going to screw the workers all around the country like you did in Wisconsin - taking away their collective bargaining and their rights to the American dream?"

Smiling throughout the question, Gov. Walker answered: "I'm incredibly pro-worker...."

One of the people who was leading the charge outside lives right here in Madison.

"We are here to tell the people of Cleveland and the people of Ohio the truth about Scott Walker's policies," said Scott Foval, head of the Wisconsin chapter of the liberal group - People for the American Way.

As the protests grew louder, Cleveland police were brought in to make a path from the door of the restaurant to Gov. Walker's campaign vehicle, so he could leave.

As this scene unfolded - Collin Roth, managing editor of the conservative website Right Wisconsin, retweeted a 27 News picture and wrote: "'Aggressively normal' guy requires police escort to leave restaurant. His enemies are his best asset."

27 News asked Foval if he does indeed worry whether such protests could rally more Republicans to Walker's side and therefore help with his nomination process?

"He talks a tough game, but what you just saw here was Scott Walker not stopping and talking to average people," said Foval.

UW-Madison Political Science Professor Ken Mayer had a much more direct answer.

"It's certainly not going to hurt him," said Mayer, who added that in a 17 candidate race, a loud protest of your campaign can't be a bad thing.

"If Walker's in a car on the way to Manny's Delicatessen or some place and an aide tells him, 'hey look, there's a crowd of 25 protesters there,' his reaction is going to be, 'that's good,' because that just means there's something for the cameras to cover," said Mayer.

But Foval believes there is a value in the protests because they can help realign the conversation and get people thinking about why Gov. Walker is so disliked in parts of Wisconsin.

"Whether it affects his chances or not, is not really the issue," said Foval. "The issue is telling a truthful story."

Powered by Frankly