Former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri, is joining Scott Walker’s nascent presidential campaign as a leading adviser on foreign policy and defense, sources familiar with the move and Talent told CNN.
“I’m pleased to be advising Governor Walker’s Our American Revival committee. He is a strong conservative, a proven leader and a proven winner,” Talent told CNN. “I support his ideas and agenda and have been especially impressed with his interest and foundational understanding of defense and foreign policy issues. He believes in approaching the world from a position of strength, and he understands that the qualities of leadership needed in domestic and foreign policy are essentially the same.”
It’s a big get for the Wisconsin governor as he draws up a campaign plan and team: In the coming election cycle, foreign policy figures are expected to loom especially large given the increased frequency of threats brought by ISIS and other terrorist groups. Talent was a foreign policy adviser to both of Mitt Romney’s presidential bids, and nearly every major potential GOP hopeful this cycle has courted him.
Talent currently is an American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow and the Director of the National Security 2020 Project at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. He also consults at the public relations firm, Banner Public Affairs. Previously, he was a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, specializing in military readiness.
He provides Walker with a muscular approach to national security and defense that would put him on the opposite end of the spectrum from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in the primary, yet still provide an alternative to what former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is leaning on: George W. Bush’s administration and his team of former defense officials.
When he ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for a second term in the Senate, Talent tried to distinguish himself from then-President Bush when asked in a debate on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about Congressional Quarterly finding he voted with the president 94 percent of the time:
“Why don’t they ever say in those surveys that the president agreed with me a certain percentage of the time? I mean, I’ve been in public life a lot longer when he has. When I went into Congress, I think he was still running the Texas Rangers. Now, he’s come a little bit further, I guess, than I have since then. The point is, I have a set of views, a set of things I want to do to make the system work for Missouri.”
The Missouri native considered running again for the Senate in 2010 but opted out in part to focus on Romney’s 2012 campaign.
Talent was known as a bookish and thoughtful Republican on Capitol Hill, who was respected on both sides of the aisle in his home state. He’s well-liked by those who have worked with and for him.