Scott Walker Enters GOP Field To High Expectations And Doubts

Gov. Scott Walker will become the final top-tier candidate to join the GOP battle for the White House when he announces his bid from Wisconsin on Monday.

Walker enters the race as the favorite to win Iowa’s caucuses and with high polling numbers and plenty of grassroots enthusiasm.

He is a natural fit for the Iowa contest as a social and fiscal conservative from an adjacent state. And his appeal came into sharp focus when he captivated an Iowa audience in January with the tale of his battle against Wisconsin’s labor unions.

But there are plenty of doubts, too, when it comes to whether Walker can be the GOP nominee.

Walker trails Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in polls in New Hampshire, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who Walker has said would be a good vice presidential candidate on his ticket — is believed to be setting up a firewall in South Carolina.

That raises the importance for Walker in winning Iowa and then bottling that momentum.

“He has to win or show well in Iowa,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “If he doesn’t, he’s in real trouble.”

Republicans laud Walker as a candidate with cross-party appeal, saying he has the potential to draw on Tea Party conservatives, social conservatives and establishment-minded Republicans. 

His fight against public sector unions has been front and center in his campaign.

“It’s got to be the cornerstone of his pitch,” said O’Connell. “It’s got to be his bloody rallying cry that the liberals came after him three times with everything they had and he never wavered. “

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy