Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Kleefisch Tries To Ape Trump

And the results are, ah, pretty weird.

By - Sep 27th, 2021 04:53 pm
Rebecca Kleefisch. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2017-2018.

Rebecca Kleefisch. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2017-2018.

These are strange days for the Republican Party. Witness the campaign of former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who announced in early September that she was officially running for governor against Democrat Tony Evers. With two terms in the administration of Scott Walker, who transformed the state in many ways, and with a prior career as a TV journalist, there are many themes Kleefisch might have struck.

Instead she offered what at any social gathering would be considered too much information. Noting that she suffered from cancer back in 2020 and had a tumor removed, she offered this statement: “They literally cut out half my guts,” she said “Even with half my guts, I still have twice as much guts as Tony Evers.”

Besides the tastelessness, it’s an ugly claim considering Evers nearly lost his life from cancer after being diagnosed with cancer of his esophagus, as Molly Beck reported: “Surgeons removed his esophagus and part of his stomach — leaving Evers unable to eat full-size meals for the rest of his life, and forcing him to sleep at a 45-degree angle.”

But is this kind of childish claim — I have twice as much guts as you do — how we want to elect our politicians? It never was until the advent of Donald Trump, whose threat that he could “beat the hell out of” Joe Biden in a boxing match was among many schoolyard boasts he offered on the campaign trail. 

Kleefisch left no doubt who her model was, offering this view of Trump in her announcement speech: “There are people who said it could not be done, but instead Donald Trump became one of the most successful policy presidents of our time…And friends, if he can do it, we can do it.” 

She called herself “a fighter” and derided Evers for “weak leadership.” Her campaign video echoed the anti-immigrant stance of Trump, declaring she would “ban sanctuary cities,” and dispatch the National Guard to “secure our southern border” — not the one with Illinois but 2,000 miles away along the Mexican border. 

Like Trump, Kleefisch chose to make her campaign announcement among a crowd not wearing masks, and like him she ended up contracting COVID-19, with the difference that she was fully vaccinated, and hopefully will recover quickly. But it offers a strange contradiction, of a mother of two children who makes sure to emphasis this, while engaging in risky behavior that could endanger others.

Is this the real Kleefisch? Gutsiness is certainly not the first thing you thought of when she ran for Lt. Governor in 2010. She refused to debate her Democratic opponent, Tom Nelson, and declined a week’s worth of requests to do an interview with the Madison weekly Isthmus. The La Crosse Tribune did an editorial calling on Kleefisch to debate. It also noted there were no details of her stands on the issues at her website.

It may be that her Republican handlers were trying to protect Kleefisch from comments like her statement about extending benefits to domestic partners: “This is a slippery slope… at what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table, or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs?”

Whatever the reason for her refusal to debate, it contradicted her campaign appearance on Fox News, where she called herself one of the “Mama Grizzlies,” a Sarah Palin-coined term for tough conservative women.

There is no doubt Kleefisch is conservative, backing lower taxes and laws banning abortion and supporting concealed carry — standard positions for Walker-era Republicans. But the continued domination of the party by Trump — even after he was defeated by a margin of seven million votes — is requiring candidates like Kleefisch to adopt increasingly unhinged positions on the issues.

Many of Wisconsin’s hard-core Republicans have been convinced by Trump’s lies that the election was stolen. And as potential GOP candidates like Kleefisch and Bill McCoshen have attended town hall meetings across the state, I am told, they have been asked some insane questions, such as: “what is your plan for the reinstatement of President Trump?”

McCoshen is a Tommy Thompson-era, moderate conservative who, after traveling the state for more than a year, and freeing himself to campaign by selling his business, made a surprise announcement that he would not run for governor. His explanation was vague, but it seems likely he decided he had no chance of winning the GOP primary without becoming a crazed Trumpster.

Which is what Kleefisch is doing. Her campaign spokesperson compared Evers to Jeffrey Dahmer. She attended a political event where the main speaker argued the January 6 Capitol riot was staged. She has called Democrats “pure evil.” She’s made comments about Wisconsin’s “fishy” elections and supports a “forensic audit” of the state’s 2020 results, helping reinforce Trump’s Big Lie of a stolen election. She’s called vaccine mandates “an epic, fresh new level of government overreach, creepiness.” And just as Trump attacked Democratic mayors for not taking harsh measures agent Black Lives Matter protestors, Kleefisch has claimed Evers didn’t respond to the unrest in Kenosha until lives were lost, which Politifact rated as “false.”

All of this is by design to convince hard-core Trumpsters she is one of them. Whether that’s working is unclear, but it could make her un-electable in the general election.

4 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Kleefisch Tries To Ape Trump”

  1. kmurphy724 says:

    The GOP voter-core has gone crazy, so it’s not surprising that a politician needing their votes will pander to them. The only difference I can see is between those that only pander, and those that both pander and are crazy too. I can’t really tell with Keeflisch, but whether they’re only mixing the kool-aid or also drinking it doesn’t make much difference to this voter.

  2. NieWiederKrieg says:

    My sister married an extreme right wing, war mongering, white, racist, Confederate flag waving, Bible thumping, low IQ, ex-military, Evangelical nit-wit from Georgia…. That me an expert on Rebecca Crayfish, her bizarre behavior, her irrational thought process, and everything that makes her tick.

  3. GodzillakingMKE says:

    She’s a terrible human. I’m guessing as a news anchor she was just as bigoted as she is now.

  4. mr_cox says:

    When your policy positions are at odds with majority opinion, you deflect and misdirect from them with bluster. It gets to the point where it’s hard to tell whether the new crop of conservative candidates even have political convictions when they so happily adopt and amplify positions straight from party central.

    This is the end game of the strategy formulated by the John Birch Society as far back as the late fifties-early sixties of countering their perceived spread of Communism by any means necessary, even if it meant adopting the tactics of the opponent. Admittedly, it’s a loose comparison, but the centralized messaging and lockstep enforced discipline of the modern Republican party resembles the spectre they sought to eliminate. The parallel campaign to destroy government services and privatize them, however, is on full display.

    Kleefisch, like most of the Grifter Candidates, may not fully understand or agree with this agenda, but she certainly senses the financial opportunity of doing her masters’ bidding and apparently is willing to do and say whatever necessary to line her pockets.

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