WASHINGTON, District of Columbia—Before he ended his struggling, cash-depleted campaign, former Republican presidential nomination contender Scott Walker pleaded with major financial backers that he would enroll in an online college to complete his degree if they would sustain his campaign until the Iowa caucuses, according to a former senior Walker campaign aide.
The aide—who participated in the conference call but spoke under condition of anonymity because she was seeking political employment with the backers—said Mr. Walker made the plea in a conference call with the billionaire industrialists Koch brothers on Monday morning, several hours before Mr. Walker would eventually terminate his campaign.
The aide said Mr. Walker felt at a “disadvantage” competing against runway Republican frontrunner Donald Trump because of what he thought was the “wide gap in their educational levels and experience.”
“He just felt like he was getting squashed by him because he [Trump] used to own a university, while he never completed even an associate degree,” the aide said. “And he just wanted to hang on till after Iowa and New Hampshire, when he thought he would regain his traction and lead in national polls, and he thought the courses would help.”
When Mr. Walker ended his campaign, he was registering below 1% in national polls of Republican voters, a precipitous drop from his pack-leading 18% in a March poll, before Mr. Trump entered the race in June.
“That was also the most depressing part about the call too, when they gave us the latest numbers,” the aide added.
“It was — I don’t know — I forget, I think about three of four zeros. Just so many, like 0.00001% or something like that in the latest polls. That was tough on him too. But in the end, we just were slowly going flat broke because people just quit giving us money.”
If Mr. Walker had been successful to win the Republican nomination and then the presidency, he would have joined a long list of American presidents who did not earn a college degree, including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry Truman.
The aide said Mr. Walker would “probably still” enroll in a college. “Oh, he’ll be heard from again four, eight years down the road, and he’ll be very well educated next time.”
According to the aide, Mr. Walker is considering several online schools, including Everest University, Briarcliff College, Corinthian College, and DeVry University.
Holleran N. Yellen II reports on dynamics of 2016 presidential election campaigns.