Walker Marketing His Conservative Brand, Perhaps Testing Presidential Waters

Mar 18, 2013

Gov. Scott Walker appeared to be one of the Republican leaders ‘testing the water’ late last week, as the Conservative Political Action Conference gathered in Maryland.

Walker was invited to address the conference and was also on its straw ballot of GOP presidential contenders for 2016.

A familiar face at big Republican gatherings.
Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

He recently also accepted an invitation to address Iowa Republicans in May.

UW-Platteville Political Scientist John Rink says those are among the prerequisite stops, when it comes to competing for the next GOP presidential nomination. "If they (Walker and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan) can attract some positive attention, they will continue moving forward, toward that goal, "Rink said.

Rink perceives the first-term governor as working to establish credibility among the most conservative members of the Republican Party. Gov. Walker has "lots to brag about, that conservatives would like," Rink said. "The Budget Repair Bill and the whole brouhaha that we went through over that, was actually something that brought attention to Scott Walker, positive attention from conservative media outlets."

As for what conservatives might not particularly like, according to the political scientist, is that Walker, "has had to be a little bit less risk-taking lately. He has had to avoid polarizing the voters of Wisconsin because he has a reelection campaign to worry about before long," Rink said.

What is more important at this time for the GOP as it charts its future course and leaders: ideology or results? Rink says ideology and rhetoric seem to mean more to party members right now, than results, such as job creation. The professor says he thinks most party faithful, "assume that the results will eventually appear. They've got all the confidence in the world, that following those policies and following a leader like Walker, will eventually lead to the results they want."

Rink also thinks the governor is wise for courting Iowa's political activists because, "they like a candidate that they feel comfortable with," even though the Iowa caucus is still years off.