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Politics & Government

Analyst: Iowa GOP Audience Hears a More Conservative, Forceful Gov. Walker

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker met potential supporters in Iowa over the weekend, where he participated in a couple high-profile political events.

Walker was one of a number of potential Republican presidential hopefuls visiting Iowa.

We asked Marquette University political scientist and pollster Charles Franklin to share his thoughts on how Walker portrayed himself to the crowd.

Franklin made several major points:

  • Gov. Walker shared information about his past, in order to connect with the Iowa audience. For instance, Walker pointed out that he spent the first seven years of his life in Iowa. Walker also described his life during the 2011 Madison protests over Act 10 – the governor’s divisive, signature piece of legislation, which eliminated most public unions’ collective bargaining rights. Walker “vividly” and “forcefully” shared stories of death threats he and his family members received during the protests. Walker has not given such vivid descriptions of those events to Wisconsin audiences.
  • Walker’s comments to the conservative Republican audience had a different tone than the one he uses when he speaks to Wisconsinites. For instance, the governor was “forceful” when discussing his support for legislation that restricted abortions and defunded Planned Parenthood. Walker has downplayed those issues in Wisconsin, including during his fall reelection campaign.
  • Iowans heard the governor repeat a theme that Walker has touched on frequently since his reelection in November: the idea that he’s a governor who gets things done, compared to lawmakers in Washington, DC, who are slow -- in Walker's opinion -- to make progress. Walker portrayed himself as a governor with “big and bold ideas.”
  • Walker was received well by audience members, and is considered by national handicappers to be one of the potential candidates “in the top competitive rank.”
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