All three of the remaining GOP candidates for WI-8 appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio this week. As I mentioned on Monday, I didn't think that Reid Ribble or Terri McCormick had won many converts with their performances, and this created an opening for Roger Roth during his appearance on Tuesday. Overall, I thought Roth had the strongest performance, but it wasn't perfect by any means.
Roger had the best short answer to why he was superior to his GOP primary opponents. This centered around his unique mix of experience in business, in the state legislature, and in the military, which made him ready to "lead from day one." His answer was succinct and sincere and was likely to catch on with voters paying attention.
He went on to draw a distinction between himself and his opponents on the issue of immigration. Arguing that he was strong on securing the border, and always has been. For those of us following the primary closely, this was obviously a shot at Ribble. The only problem is that I'm not sure many voters are paying that close of attention. Roth could have made this stronger by saying something along the lines of "unlike at least one of my opponents, I have always been in favor of taking a tough stance on immigration." In a forum like a public radio interview, there is a very fine line between distinguishing yourself and turning people off with an attack on your opponent, so it's hard to fault Roth on this score.
On the other hand, Roth's answer to one call-in question had the feel of a "not ready for prime-time moment." The caller was clear and concise, asking Roth whether or not he would support Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future. In response, Roth admitted that he had not read all of Ryan's Roadmap. To which I could only reply, "what?" If you are a serious GOP candidate from Wisconsin, the one policy proposal you had better be ready to discuss in detail is Ryan's Roadmap.
Not only has the Roadmap gotten national attention, it is the only substantive major GOP proposition to reform entitlements currently being considered. Add to this the fact that Ryan is from Wisconsin, and this guarantees that the Roadmap will be an issue in the general election, including here in the 8th.
Additionally, just prior to this question Roth gave a lengthy answer on the fact that he did not favor privatization of Social Security. An answer that will no doubt help him in the general election, but maybe not so much with primary voters.
Overall, Roth did the most to help his cause among the three candidates during these radio interviews. Even so, it is clear that the GOP in WI-8 has some things to learn if we plan to defeat Steve Kagen in November.
Here is a link to the Ribble, McCormick, and Roth interviews on Wiscosin Public Radio.