POLITICS
08/31/2015 06:47 pm ET

Scott Walker Campaign Says He's Not Advocating For A Border Wall With Canada

He just said it was "a legitimate issue" to consider.

After critics mocked Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for saying a wall between the U.S. and Canada was a "legitimate" idea, his campaign said Monday that he is not pushing for such a policy.

"Despite the attempts of some to put words in his mouth, Gov. Walker wasn't advocating for a wall along our northern border," Walker spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.

The controversy followed the typical politician walk-back formula: a quick uproar over his comments to a reporter -- in this case, made Sunday during NBC's "Meet the Press" -- followed by parsing of his words and, eventually, a clarification.

Depending on how you parse those comments -- and much of politics depends on this -- the Walker campaign is right: He wasn't advocating for a border wall between the U.S. and Canada. He didn't bring up the idea at all. "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd pressed Walker on northern border security, asking why it's discussed so little when candidates like Walker speak so frequently talk about the risk of terrorists crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. 

"Do you want to build a wall north of the border, too?" Todd asked.

"Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire," Walker replied. "They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at."

In other words, Walker wasn't out there demanding a wall be built between the U.S. and Canada -- he just said the equivalent of "maybe" when asked about it.

To be less charitable, though, there were plenty of other ways for Walker to answer the question. He could have said it wasn't feasible, or that it would be a bad idea. Instead, he opted to give credence to an extreme idea to indicate he's willing to entertain any possible proposal to combat unauthorized immigration.

He got grief for it from both sides. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a fellow GOP presidential candidate, called a northern border wall "a ridiculous notion." Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued a statement calling it a "terrible idea."

"Election season always brings out crazy ideas, but this is one of the craziest," Leahy said.

This controversy was the latest in a string of walk-backs by the governor. Most recently, he caused a frenzy when he said "yeah, absolutely" in response to a question about whether birthright citizenship should be ended. He later said he wouldn't take a position on the issue, and then said he would not seek to prevent birthright citizenship.

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