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Thursday, March 5, 2015

 9:15 AM 

Walker, Bush lead Quinnipiac poll of national Republicans

Gov. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are at the head of the pack in a Quinnipiac University poll of national Republicans.

Walker led with 18 percent, while Bush was next at 16 percent. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were tied for third at 8 percent each.

Bush did better than Walker against Hillary Clinton in hypothetical general election head-to-head match ups.

Clinton led Bush 45-42, while she topped Walker 48-39. Christie, Rand Paul, Huckabee and Marco Rubio also fared better against Clinton than Walker did.

Among national voters, 23 percent had a positive impression of Walker, while 24 percent had a negative one. Fifty-two percent didn't know enough about him to have an opinion.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,286 registered voters nationally, including 554 Republicans. The general election questions had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, while the GOP primary questions had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The live interviews included land lines and cell phones.

-- By JR Ross

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 8:36 AM 

Abortion rights group runs Iowa ad against Walker

An abortion rights group is out with a new print ad accusing Gov. Scott Walker of "blatantly" misrepresenting his record and saying he cannot be trusted.

The ad is addressed to Iowans ahead of Walker's trip there this weekend to speak at the Iowa Ag Summit and ran in today's Des Moines Register.

It notes the TV ad Walker ran during his re-election campaign last year in which he looked into the camera and discussed a bill he supports that "leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor."

The print ad says that is in sharp contrast with Walker's record of seeking to restrict abortion, but he only uses that record "in moments he finds convenient."

"We also want a president with integrity, one whose word we can trust," says the ad, signed Your Wisconsin Neighbors. "Scott Walker cannot be trusted, and we thought you should know."

See the ad:
http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/assets/download-files/iowa-walker-print-ad.pdf 

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

 1:32 PM 

PPP: Walker surging in North Carolina

The Dem firm Public Policy Polling says Gov. Scott Walker is surging in North Carolina, leading to GOP presidential field.

The firm found Walker at 24 percent among GOP voters, compared to 17 percent for Jeb Bush, 15 percent for Mike Huckabee and 12 percent for Ben Carson.

Walker's support is up 10 points from a North Carolina poll the firm did last month.

In a hypothetical head-to-head general election match up, Hillary Clinton and Walker were neck-and-neck. She was backed by 45 percent of voters, while 43 percent supported Walker. Carson did best among Republicans against Clinton, with 46 percent to her 45 percent.

The firm surveyed 849 registered voters in North Carolina, including 389 GOP primary voters. The poll, conducted Feb. 24-26, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points in the general election question and plus or minus 5 percentage points in the GOP primary.

-- By JR Ross

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

 5:14 PM 

Walker promises to sign 20-week abortion ban

Gov. Scott Walker pledged to sign legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks "when it gets to my desk," also indicating in a letter today from his campaign that he'd support a similar bill at the federal level.

"I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life, and I will always fight to protect it," Walker wrote.

Anti-abortion activists have made the ban a top priority for this session, but the legislation has not yet been introduced.

Walker's letter comes as Hillary Clinton, the presumed Dem frontrunner for president, was in DC to address and event hosted by EMILY's List, which backs abortion rights.

It also comes on the heels of criticism Walker received from some anti-abortion activists for an answer he gave during an interview on "Fox News Sunday." Asked by host Chris Wallace if abortion is a woman's choice, Walker said it is under guidelines provided by the Supreme Court. Wallace asked if he would "change that law."

"Well, that's not a change you can make. The Supreme Court ultimately made that," Walker said.

The response drew criticism in posts at the blog for the conservative American Principles in Action. One suggested Walker should have advocated for a ban on abortion after 20 weeks.

Read the blog

See the letter

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 3:39 PM 

Walker adds stops in South Carolina, Iowa to busy travel calendar

Gov. Scott Walker will be keeping up his heavy travel schedule, with new trips on the calendar for South Carolina and Iowa.

The guv already had plans to speak at the Iowa Ag Summit on Saturday. The Des Moines Register has reported while Walker is in the state, he'll attend an evening fundraiser in Dubuque for GOP U.S. Rep. Rod Blum.

He is scheduled to address the New Hampshire GOP's Grassroots Training and Rally on March 14.

Walker also has plans to be in South Carolina March 19 and 20 for stops in Columbia, Greenville, Rock Hill and Charleston, according to CNN.

He is one of several possible presidential candidates scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting April 10-12 in Nashville.

Walker will be back in Iowa next month to speak at the Northwest Iowa GOP dinner on April 24 before speaking the next day at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's spring dinner.

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 11:10 AM 

Rasmussen: Clinton 46, Walker 41

Hillary Clinton leads Scott Walker in a new survey of national voters from the GOP firm Rasmussen Reports.

The firm found 46 percent of likely U.S. voters said they would back Clinton if the election were held today, while 41 percent would support Walker. Eight percent preferred someone else, while 6 percent were undecided.

It's the first time Rasmussen has matched Walker against Clinton.

She led Jeb Bush 45-36, compared to 47-33 a year ago. Clinton also topped Ben Carson 47-36, similar to polling the firm did in June.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Saturday and Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross

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 10:32 AM 

Feingold says in Facebook post he plans to travel state in 2015, listening to concerns of Wisconsinites

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who is widely expected to run for his old Senate seat next year, posted on Facebook this morning that he plans to spend part of 2015 traveling Wisconsin to listen to the concerns of state residents.

Feingold wrote after he leaves the State Department this week, he will spend part of 2015 teaching international relations and law at Stanford University. Most of the rest of the year will be spent living at his home in Middleton and traveling the state "extensively."

"I will listen carefully to my fellow Wisconsinites talk about their concerns, especially those involving their economic well-being. I will also seek their counsel on how I can best further serve my country and the state I love," Feingold wrote.

-- By JR Ross


 8:11 AM 

Daley radio ad calls Bradley activist opposed to Walker's 'major reforms'

Supreme Court candidate James Daley is out with a new radio ad charging Justice Ann Walsh Bradley is an activist who “has consistently used her position to oppose Governor Walker’s major reforms.”

The narrator accuses Bradley of trying to end Act 10, “putting politics ahead of the law,” and trying to stop voter ID from becoming law.

“As long as Ann Walsh Bradley remains on the Supreme Court, she's a threat to block the common-sense reforms that are moving Wisconsin forward,” the narrator says.

The narrator then asks listeners to “put an end to Ann Walsh Bradley playing politics on the Supreme Court.”

“I'm Judge James Daley,” the challenger says to close the spot. “With your help, I'll defend our Constitution and uphold the rule of law. I'm asking for your vote for Supreme Court on April 7th.”

Daley’s campaign said the ad began running this morning.

-- By JR Ross


Monday, March 2, 2015

 4:02 PM 

Walker: 'My view has changed' on immigration

Gov. Scott Walker says he has changed his position on immigration and doesn't support amnesty for illegal immigrants now living in the U.S.

Walker's comments on immigration in recent weeks have been under scrutiny as he insisted he opposed amnesty despite past comments and actions that suggested he had previously supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants now living in the country.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," the likely presidential candidate said his position has changed. He blamed President Obama's handling of the immigration issue for the shift.

"My view has changed, I'm flat-out saying it. Candidates can say that, sometimes they don't," Walker said.

The guv also insisted he hasn't flipped his position on right-to-work after calling the bill a distraction last year, but now promising to sign it. He said now "is the perfect time" for the bill.

"I never said I'd veto it," Walker said. "I asked for them not to make it a distraction early on in the session. I presented my budget. I laid out my agenda. They're acting on that right now. Now is the perfect time."

The guv also sought to address other controversies that have flared in recent weeks.

Walker insisted he wasn't comparing ISIS to protesters who flooded the Capitol four years ago when he told a crowd of conservative activists last week if he could take on the pro-union crowd, "I can do the same across the world."

He insisted he was not comparing the two entities and his comment "was about leadership."

Walker also said he believes the president loves America.

Walker has taken flak after Rudy Giuliani said at a dinner the two attended that Obama didn't love America. Walker, who had refused to condemn the comments previously, said the former New York mayor wasn't speaking on his behalf.

"I think, in the end, he and anybody else who is willing to put their name on the ballot certainly has to have the love for country to do that," Walker said.

The guv also waded into his refusal to answer a question on whether he believed the president is a Christian, saying he wasn't going to get into a "manufactured media crisis."

Read the transcript of Sunday's show

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 2:34 PM 

Franklin: Peaking too early can be a problem in presidential nomination process

Gov. Scott Walker may be flying high in the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign contest, but can he sustain it?

Just days before Walker suggested dealing with protesters had prepared him for taking on terrorists from the self-proclaimed Islamic State during a speech at the annual CPAC on Thursday, Marquette Law School poll director Charles Franklin told a DC breakfast sponsored by WisPolitics on Tuesday that one of the keys to winning a presidential nomination is to not peak too early.

"Everybody got their 15 minutes" of fame during the GOP nominating contest in 2012, Franklin noted. But "brief opportunity is hard to translate into constant support, " he said, reminding attendees of the short-lived rises of Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain last time around.

But in addition to a "breakout" performance at the Iowa Freedom Summit last month, Walker has another advantage over most would-be GOP nominees: a national donor base, Franklin said. Thanks to the high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful effort to have him recalled in 2012 and his tough re-election race last November, Walker sports a broader pool of donors than most governors, Franklin said.

At this stage of the primaries, it's crucial to define yourself before critics or rivals do, Franklin said. Walker did an excellent job of that in Iowa when he introduced himself to conservative activists likely to be key in deciding the nation's first presidential caucuses, he said.

"In Wisconsin it's hard for us to understand that Scott Walker isn't a household name everywhere" but he isn't and he did a good job of letting Iowans know who he is and what he has accomplished so far, Franklin said.

Generally speaking, any potential nominee is mostly acceptable to the bulk of primary voters so the trick is standing out from the crowd, said Franklin.

But since Iowa, it's an open question whether Walker is standing out in a good way.

He came under heavy fire by refusing to acknowledge that President Obama is a Christian during the recent National Governors Association meeting in Washington. And mere hours after making the protester-ISIS connection on Thursday, Walker was walking back from it.

"My point was just, if I could handle that kind of a pressure and kind of intensity (of the 2011 protests), I think I'm up for the challenge for whatever might come, if I choose to run for president," Walker told Bloomberg Politics after.

There are also lessons from Wisconsin polling on Walker.

The governor has never won in November of a presidential year in Wisconsin, so it's unclear how he would fare in the fall of 2016 when many Dem-leaning voters who don't vote in gubernatorial elections come to the polls, Franklin suggested.

But Walker has won independents -- who do not affiliate themselves with either party -- in his three gubernatorial races. However, independents and moderate party members are not necessarily one bloc, Franklin said. "The two groups are splitting differently in Wisconsin right now," he added.

In another 2016 race, freshman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, could have a tough road to reelection, Franklin said.

"Johnson, for someone now four-plus years into his first term," still doesn't have great name identification, Franklin said. Former Sen. Russ Feingold still is better known than Johnson and is viewed more favorably by Wisconsinites than Johnson, he said.

That could give Feingold the leg up, should he choose to seek a rematch.

Listen to audio from the event

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

 4:51 PM 

Walker finishes second in CPAC straw poll

Gov. Scott Walker finished second in the Washington Times/CPAC presidential preference straw poll, just behind U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul was backed by 25.7 percent of the 3,007 conservative activists who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington, D.C. Walker was supported by 21.4 percent of voters.

Sen. Ted Cruz was third at 11.5 percent, while Ben Carson was next at 11.4 and Jeb Bush was fifth at 8.3 percent.

It was the third straight time Paul, R-Ky., has topped the poll. this year's was conducted Wednesday through Friday.

See the full results.

-- By JR Ross

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Friday, February 27, 2015

 9:07 AM 

Walker comments on ISIS, state Capitol protesters prompt strong reactions

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gov. Scott Walker continued to steal the spotlight and make headlines on his second trip to Washington in less than a week.

Speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which has become an early, can't-miss appearance for potential Republican presidential candidates, Walker won big applause during his 15-minute speech. But like at the National Governors Association meeting last weekend, he uttered something during the question-and-answer session that could haunt him: he suggested dealing with thousands of protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol prepared him to take on ISIS.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said in response to an audience member who asked him how he would confront the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL.

The comment quickly drew condemnation from Wisconsin groups, who accused Walker of comparing teachers and nurses to terrorists. But a Walker spokeswoman insists he was not comparing American citizens to ISIS.

"Governor Walker believes our fight against ISIS is one of the most important issues our country faces," said spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. "He was in no way comparing any American citizen to ISIS. What the governor was saying was when faced with adversity he chooses strength and leadership. Those are the qualities we need to fix the leadership void this White House has created."

The comment also drew a mixed reaction from those at the conference.

"To compare 100,000 unarmed students to well-armed terrorists is pretty stupid," said Chandler Lassen, a 20-year-old University of South Carolina student who attended in his capacity as treasurer of South Carolina's College Republicans.

Professionals were less harsh in their assessment and chalked up the incident to a gaffe.

Tom Basile, who led a workshop titled "Effective communication to expand a conservative majority" earlier in the afternoon, said Q&A sessions at this early stage of the campaign, during which almost all contenders are in "exploratory" mode, can be fraught with peril and must be navigated carefully. And especially in regards to foreign policy, most would-be nominees don't yet have "fully formed" views that they can articulate clearly, said the Forbes and XM-Radio contributor.

Walker was trying to say that the United States needs to confront the Muslim extremist threat more directly than President Barack Obama has done so far, Basile said. "His point is that he's going to be tougher than Obama," Basile said.

Byron Thomas, a 23-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, didn't take Walker's comments literally and instead focused on his larger point about how dangerous ISIS is at home and abroad.

"We have to do everything we can to get rid" of ISIS and similar groups, Thomas said. "We can't drop a nuclear bomb, because that would be immoral," yet the threat is great and must be confronted.

Walker made headlines last weekend when he said "I don't know" in response to a reporter asking whether he thought Obama was a Christian. That answer earned him condemnation from some pundits but plaudits from many within the Republican base, who will decide who the 2016 GOP presidential nominee is. Similarly, his ISIS comment quickly hit the blogs and social media but it remains to be seen if it will have any lasting negative affect on his nascent campaign. Critics have dinged Walker for not having a clear foreign policy agenda but he made clear Thursday that for now, it is anything diametrically opposed to Obama's actions.

He mocked Obama for declaring Yemen a success in the Mideast and Iran as "a country we can do business with." He also took a swipe at Hillary Clinton, without naming her, by deriding Obama's former secretary of state for pushing a "reset button" with Russia.

His comments on domestic issues met with equal applause from the crowd packing the ballroom at the National Harbor hotel, which is just outside Washington's city limits in Maryland.

They ate up Walker's boasts about taking on "big labor" by stripping public unions of their collective bargaining powers and Republicans' latest victory in making Wisconsin a "right to work" state. However, one attendant—who was escorted out—shouted, "You suck," when Walker recounted his coups against labor. Walker took it in stride, ad libbing how "millions" of people feel differently and how his actions were a victory for "Wisconsin's "hard-working taxpayers."

"I really liked what he had to say except about the minimum wage," Lassen said. "I feel we should embrace it federally," he said, adding that too many workers making less than minimum wage cannot survive on such low wages.

Thomas said that although he comes from a union household, he strongly supports Walker's stance on organized labor.

"I think people should work for what they get," he said. The government and unions "just hand stuff out," he said, adding that he doesn't oppose all social welfare programs, such as food stamps, however.

-- By Nicole Duran
For WisPolitics.com

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

 7:07 AM 

Quinnipiac: Walker almost doubles up nearest opponent in new Iowa GOP poll

Gov. Scott Walker is well ahead of the pack in Iowa, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Twenty-five percent of likely GOP caucus participants backed Walker with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul a distant second at 13 percent. Ben Carson was next at 11 percent, while Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush were at 10 percent each.

The poll found 57 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Walker, while just 7 percent had an unfavorable view.

Also, only 8 percent of respondents said they were less likely to vote for Walker because he lacks a college degree, while 82 percent said it made no difference. The poll comes after a round of media attention on Walker leaving Marquette University before he graduated.

The survey of 623 likely Iowa Republican caucus participants was conducted Feb. 16-23 using live interviews via land lines and cell phones. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross

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