GOP governors audition for national office in their 'state of the state' speeches

Some GOP governors, giving their "state of the state" speeches before joint sessions of their legislatures, sounded a lot like they were auditioning for higher office. Politico reports that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie added several references to the state of the country in their addresses, trying out themes that they may use in their 2016 presidential campaigns.

Each governor who spoke Tuesday — Christie, Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — outlined a few signature policy proposals designed to lead local news coverage: Pence called for a balanced budget amendment to the state constitution, to be ratified by voters in a future election. Walker proposed merging several state agencies together that he said duplicate work. Christie pushed for mandatory treatment programs for drug offenders.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another possible presidential contender, followed a similar script during his swearing-in for a second term Monday.

With the national campaign heating up fast, all three of the governors tried to integrate global themes into their ostensibly state-focused speeches.

Pence invoked the murder of Indiana native Peter Kassig, an aide worker beheaded by ISIS, and noted that 300 airmen from Fort Wayne have been deployed to the Middle East. “The evil that came to the streets of Paris last week may seem far removed,” said Pence, “but the brutal murder of our own … is a stark reminder that we are all part of a global war of civilization against barbarism.”

Walker also decried the murder of innocents in Paris by “cowards who are overwhelmed by fear.”

“We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all, and we will not allow it,” he said. “When we take a stand, we will make it easier to work for freedom and prosperity—right here in Wisconsin.”

Christie spoke more broadly during his speech to what he described as widespread “anxiety” about the administration’s ability to control world events. “America’s leadership in the world is called into question because of a pattern of indecision and inconsistency,” he said.

Christie’s speech, at 43 minutes, was the longest. Because Democrats dominate the legislature, he got the fewest interruptions for applause.


Pence is one of the most interesting candidates mentioned for 2016. He may be the one candidate who appeals to both the Tea Party and establishment factions. He has flown under the radar for several years, quietly reforming Indiana's government, and presiding over a decent economy. Taxes are low and businesses - fleeing high tax Illinois - are setting up shop. A low cost of living and pretty good infrastructure also helps the business climate.
 
But Pence has not made much noise about running in 2016, preferring to concentrate on continuing to improve his state's education and employment picture. Nor is there a groundswell of support among the base for his candidacy. He has no exploratory committees, no PACs, and no visits to early primary states. His fellow governors respect him, but he has no claim on their allegiance.
 
My guess is that Pence won't be a candidate in 2016. But as for the others, we can expect potential candidates like Christie and Walker to use their state of the state speeches as a springboard to craft issues and themes they will use on the campaign trail next year.

Some GOP governors, giving their "state of the state" speeches before joint sessions of their legislatures, sounded a lot like they were auditioning for higher office. Politico reports that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie added several references to the state of the country in their addresses, trying out themes that they may use in their 2016 presidential campaigns.

Each governor who spoke Tuesday — Christie, Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — outlined a few signature policy proposals designed to lead local news coverage: Pence called for a balanced budget amendment to the state constitution, to be ratified by voters in a future election. Walker proposed merging several state agencies together that he said duplicate work. Christie pushed for mandatory treatment programs for drug offenders.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another possible presidential contender, followed a similar script during his swearing-in for a second term Monday.

With the national campaign heating up fast, all three of the governors tried to integrate global themes into their ostensibly state-focused speeches.

Pence invoked the murder of Indiana native Peter Kassig, an aide worker beheaded by ISIS, and noted that 300 airmen from Fort Wayne have been deployed to the Middle East. “The evil that came to the streets of Paris last week may seem far removed,” said Pence, “but the brutal murder of our own … is a stark reminder that we are all part of a global war of civilization against barbarism.”

Walker also decried the murder of innocents in Paris by “cowards who are overwhelmed by fear.”

“We need to proclaim that an attack against freedom-loving people anywhere is an attack against us all, and we will not allow it,” he said. “When we take a stand, we will make it easier to work for freedom and prosperity—right here in Wisconsin.”

Christie spoke more broadly during his speech to what he described as widespread “anxiety” about the administration’s ability to control world events. “America’s leadership in the world is called into question because of a pattern of indecision and inconsistency,” he said.

Christie’s speech, at 43 minutes, was the longest. Because Democrats dominate the legislature, he got the fewest interruptions for applause.


Pence is one of the most interesting candidates mentioned for 2016. He may be the one candidate who appeals to both the Tea Party and establishment factions. He has flown under the radar for several years, quietly reforming Indiana's government, and presiding over a decent economy. Taxes are low and businesses - fleeing high tax Illinois - are setting up shop. A low cost of living and pretty good infrastructure also helps the business climate.
 
But Pence has not made much noise about running in 2016, preferring to concentrate on continuing to improve his state's education and employment picture. Nor is there a groundswell of support among the base for his candidacy. He has no exploratory committees, no PACs, and no visits to early primary states. His fellow governors respect him, but he has no claim on their allegiance.
 
My guess is that Pence won't be a candidate in 2016. But as for the others, we can expect potential candidates like Christie and Walker to use their state of the state speeches as a springboard to craft issues and themes they will use on the campaign trail next year.