Gov. Scott Walker is having to prove himself to social conservatives, who apparently aren't sure whether or not they can trust him.
The Wisconsin Republican, who is the son of a Baptist preacher, is heading to Washington on Tuesday to meet with about 50 evangelical leaders who have concerns about his record on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, based on his previous statements and actions, Politico
One skeptic is Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), who will be in attendance at the meeting with Walker.
"Clearly he’s not well-known within Washington, D.C., with social conservative leaders. I think people are wondering, 'Where does he stand?'" Perkins told Politico.
Perkins expressed his concerns in detail in February in a FRC weekly newsletter.
"For the last few years, Governor Walker carefully avoided social issues, at one point even calling them a distraction," Perkins wrote. "Now, in trips to Iowa and abroad, the Wisconsin politician has taken great pains to emphasize the pro-life and pro-marriage themes that have been sorely lacking from his vocabulary."
When Walker ran for re-election in 2014, he ran an ad in which he said he is "pro-life," but added that, in the end, the agonizing decision of abortion should be up to "to a woman and her doctor."
Those words are a source of concern for pro-life advocates.
According to Politico, Walker has had regular conversations with Perkins in recent months and is schedule to meet with Colin Hanna, who leads the anti-abortion group Let Freedom Ring.
Walker's lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, also reportedly met with Penny Nance, who heads the Christian group Concerned Women for America.
"He cannot campaign in Iowa and South Carolina and not talk about the issues of life and marriage," Nance told Politico. "And even if it appears that he’s not talking about it, he’s done."
The nascent Walker presidential campaign has hired Republican strategists Gary Marx and Gregg Keller to help him better understand what he needs to appeal to the social conservative world and its leaders.
"When it comes to social conservatives, there is a sense that he doesn’t take a leadership role," Mathew Staver, a pastor and the chairman of Liberty Counsel, told Politico. "I think the concern is becoming widespread, and as we go further into the campaign it will become even more obvious."
And some evangelical leaders say that with such a large Republican pool, there are a lot of choices.
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