MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appeared to be caught off guard by a question about whether he would meet with Black Lives Matter organizers when confronted by a reporter on Friday.
The GOP presidential candidate did not explicitly say he would sit down and have a meeting with them, but he noted that he does plenty of public events and they are welcome to attend and ask a question.
While walking out of his appearance at the Politics and Eggs breakfast forum at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, Walker was approached and challenged by David Martosko, the U.S. political editor for the Daily Mail, who asked whether Walker would be willing to meet with activists from the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I'll meet with voters, like I said, it’s not just there’s – who knows who that is,” Walker responded. When pressed again, Walker said, “I’m going to talk with American voters, period. It’s the same way of saying you’re going to meet with the Tea Party, who’s the tea party? There’s hundreds of thousands of people out there.”
Martosko continued to ask Walker what he would do if Black Lives Matter organizers asked to sit down and meet with him. “That's a ridiculous question, I’m going to talk with voters, that’s just a ridiculous question,” Walker said.
The Black Lives Matter movement has become a prominent issue in the 2016 campaign after activists disrupted a Bernie Sanders rally and had a tense conversation with Hillary Clinton that was captured on video. The groups is working to make the issue of policing and minority communities a more prominant issue in the presidential race.
Earlier at the event, an African-American attendee asked Walker a question about recent police shootings in the United States. The man said that he felt more afraid of the police than he was of ISIS.
Walker pointed to legislation he signed in April 2014 that dealt with officer-involved shootings. The law mandated that the shootings must be investigated by an outside agency, to prevent police departments from investigating their own officers.
Walker told the crowd that the legislation he signed validates officers when they act responsibly, but takes into account the possibility that an officer may not have acted appropriately, where he cited the example of the Walter Scott shooting case in South Carolina. Walker stated that the “best thing” that can be done is to make sure police are well-practiced and trained.
“I would encourage not just as president, but also as a governor now, other states to look at putting in place something like that that requires an independent review anytime there’s an officer-related shooting that leads to a death.”
After meeting with veterans and other voters at the next campaign stop of the day at the VFW hall in Derry, he spoke with reporters about the earlier exchange and reiterated his remarks, saying, “just like the tea party, there is no one person.”
“I get groups all the time,” he added. “It’s like saying, ‘are you going to meet with the VFW or the American Legion?’ Is it individual chapters? Is it one group nationwide? In the same way there’s all sorts of multiple groups and facets of the tea party movement and many other movements out there. What I’m going to do is do what I’ve done in places like this. I’m going to talk to voters. And I’m going to take questions from voters just like I took earlier today.”
Walker noted that he constantly does public campaign events and Black Lives Matter organizers are welcome to attend and ask questions.
“If people want to interrupt and disrupt a meeting of people who want to ask a variety of questions, obviously we have an issue with that. If people want to come and ask a question just like you’ve seen today… we don’t restrict who comes in. People can come and ask questions. They just have to be respectful of other people asking questions, too.”