A year away from any feedback from actual voters, it’s hard to resist analyzing the 2016 GOP presidential race in terms of 2012. We already know Rudy Giuliani is the Donald Trump of this cycle; “America’s mayor” has soiled himself with his hateful musings about President Obama. But the other characters are tougher to cast at this point.

It’s been tempting to see Scott Walker’s recent rise as the kind of temporary surge virtually every Republican enjoyed in the last cycle — the measure of a weak field, not a strong candidate. His stumbles in the last few weeks – on Syria, on evolution and most recently, on handling Giuliani’s Obama comments – at first confirmed that for me.

But now, watching Walker raise money off the Giuliani controversy, it’s possible to think maybe there’s cunning behind his dull-eyed refusal to say whether he thinks the president is a Christian, or loves America. Walker and his team seem to believe they can create a new position in the GOP primary field: the right-wing establishment candidate. That may seem like an oxymoron, since “right wing” and “establishment” candidates have been distinct in prior cycles. But Walker thinks he has the strength to run to Jeb Bush’s right in the GOP establishment primary: to compete for donors, and the love of the party base, too.

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Source: Salon/Joan Walsh

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