When Scott Walker made the appearance in Iowa that put him on everyone’s radar, Chris Christie must have been taking notes. As the Des Moines Register points out, his subsequent speech sounded a lot like the Wisconsinite’s in its attack on public unions:
[Christie] said he led “tough, common-sense reform” in New Jersey.
“We still have more work to do. I’ll tell you, not only in my state but in 40 other states in this country, the pension and public employee health-benefit systems are going to be the thing that eats states alive if we don’t get them under control,” Christie said.
He said that [New Jersey’s] legislation passed with a Democratic legislature and public employee unions demonstrating on the state Capitol steps every day. The point, he said, is that even in the bluest of blue states, fiscal reform is possible with the right leadership.
It’s early, but we might be seeing the development of a key campaign issue here. It is certainly safer for GOP hopefuls to go after public unions than, say, tackle the foreign policy porcupines like Putin or ISIS. Scott Walker has made a strong start; not only can he tout his record on reining in public unions on the campaign trail; he’s in the midst of taking on another set of state employees: Wisconsin’s university system. Those are big steps for a presidential hopeful and could influence the rest of the field. Will we see contenders other than Christie arguing that they too can walk like Walker?