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Walker Still Setting His Narrative, but it Could Fade

Ever since Gov. Walker wowed a gathering of Iowa conservatives a few weeks ago, the country has been learning a lot more about him.

Chris Murray, a lecturer at Marquette University's Les Aspin Center in Washington, says what interested Americans have learned is that Walker defines his most noteworthy political accomplishment as weakening organized labor in Wisconsin. First, public-sector unions, with his Act 10. This week, his support of a right-to-work bill quickly moving through the Legislature that could cripple private sector unions.

“He talks about it in his speeches. He is proud of that aspect of his governorship. He is somebody who has taken on a big part of the Democratic Party coalition; he was successful, and with events in Wisconsin in the last week or so, reinforcing that, that has been the one policy accomplishment that has been getting the most attention,” Murray says.

Then, Murray says, there’s the biography of Walker making national rounds.

“There’s been a lot of attention about his time at Marquette, and potential president without a college degree; that has been on more the personal biography side of what’s been getting a lot of attention,” Murray says.

Murray says it’s what every major candidate goes through, when weighing a presidential run – setting the narrative. Yet he says the people paying the most attention to Walker’s story, at this point, are core party members - those Walker shared his story with in Iowa and at the conservative activists’ gathering Thursday - the faction that will primarily select the party’s 2016 nominee.

“Which is smaller and it is more partisan, and it is extremely ideological. And it is going to be a group of people that are probably going to latch onto that narrative in a very favorable way. But assuming you can navigate through that minefield, then you have to turn around and campaign in a very different electorate. One that is probably not going to be as favorably disposed to that type of story,” Murray says.

Murray says the carefully crafted narrative can then fade, as public probing and unforeseen events begin writing new stories.