Bush, Rubio court Walker in Wisconsin

Story highlights

  • Scott Walker headlined a school choice event with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Monday afternoon
  • He also joined Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at a private fundraiser the same day

Waukesha, Wisconsin (CNN)Seven weeks after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker abruptly ended his presidential campaign, he's now getting attention for his potential endorsement of one of his former rivals.

He appeared with two of them on Monday, as the Republican field descended upon Walker's home state of Wisconsin for the Fox Business debate on Tuesday in Milwaukee.
Walker headlined a school choice event with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Monday afternoon, the same day he joined Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at a private fundraiser for Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
    It's the most national attention Walker has received since he pulled the plug on his campaign on September 21 after finding himself at the bottom of the polls, despite once being a front-runner.
    Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the governor doesn't have any plans to make an endorsement at this time.
    "He will meet and attend events with any presidential candidates to share with them what he has heard from Wisconsin voters about getting our country back on track," he said.
    When Walker dropped out, he urged other Republican candidates "to consider doing the same" to limit the pool of candidates that can "offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner," referring to Donald Trump.
    Asked that same day in Iowa if Bush felt that Walker was referring to himself as one of the candidates that should drop out, Bush said, "No, a thousand times no."
    "I'm a big fan of Scott Walker's service as Governor of Wisconsin, I'm surprised he got out, frankly," Bush added at the time. "He's got lots of service to continue to provide, he'll continue to be a good governor, but we have a plan to win. I'm in it for the long haul."
    Since then Bush has picked up Anthony Scaramucci, a former top fundraiser for Walker, and former Virginia attorney general Terry Kilgore, a former Walker state co-chair, among others.
    For his part, Rubio added Walker's New Hampshire co-chair Cliff Hurst to his ranks, as well as a number of supporters from Iowa and Drew Johnson of the Chester County Republican committee in South Carolina.
    But 2016 politics was largely put aside Monday at the education event, which took place at La Casa de Esperanza, a charter school in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha. The event was hosted by Hispanics for School Choice.
    Walker and Bush sat next to each other in the audience before they were introduced. They each gave brief remarks, then took turns answering questions from the students about how to make charter schools a priority.
    "By the way, those three questions, are better than the moderated debate questions," Bush said to laughs and applause after a few questions had been asked. "If you're free tomorrow night, maybe you can come by the arena."
    The two governors acknowledged each other's work on building school voucher programs, a popular position for Republican presidential candidates.
    Walker said that his administration looked at Florida's reforms as a model before enacting their own voucher programs. Walker thanked Bush for being "a great leader ... not just for the state of Florida, but for people across the country."
    "I took on very powerful interests," Bush said, "just as Scott Walker has done, to expand the voucher program in the same way in this state."
    Bush, as he always does, called for higher expectations and chastised current standards, saying the "soft bigotry of low expectations, which is what my brother called our schools, basically ... does a disservice to every child in America."
    The two men were swarmed by students and parents afterward for photos. One student, carrying a campaign sign that read "#All in 4 Jeb" took a photo with Bush, then walked over and took a photo with the Wisconsin governor, while still holding up the Jeb sign.
    As Bush was getting ready to depart, he reached across a crowd of supporters and reporters to shake Walker's hands.
    "See ya, governor," Bush said. "Take care."
    "Thanks," Walker responded, as a crowd of supporters competed for his attention.
    Walking to his car, Bush told reporters he was "absolutely" looking forward to Tuesday's debate, saying he's "just going to talk about the things that are important to people."