Over the last few weeks, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been asked a few questions that he did not answer, though he did provide answers later. He was asked about whether he believes in evolution, whether he believes President Obama is a Christian and whether he believes Obama is patriotic.
Walker later explained his non-answers by saying that the questions, especially regarding Obama’s faith or patriotism, are “gotcha” questions that are meant to stir controversy but are ultimately irrelevant. Had he simply answered the questions instead of saying he does not know or that he is going to punt, that would have been acceptable. Calling out the media for asking “gotcha” questions and refusing to answer based on that would count as a legitimate answer. Punting or saying “I don’t know” to avoid answering the question is not a legitimate response.
None of this is all that difficult. Newt Gingrich gained supporters in 2012 by calling out the media for asking inflammatory “questions” and Walker had to know he would be getting these same types of “questions” as he makes a run for the White House in 2016. Instead of “punting” or dodging, engage the question directly – either by calling out the reporter asking an inflammatory “question” or by actually answering it.
Ultimately, no one cares if Scott Walker believes in evolution, and no one cares what Scott Walker thinks about inflammatory comments by Rudy Giuliani. These kinds of “gotcha” questions are simply childish, designed to stir up controversy (and therefore ratings) rather than actually informing people about a potential candidate for President. But Walker does himself no favors when he ducks and weaves to avoid answering a question. Instead, he makes himself look like he is not ready for prime time.