Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to build the case that his campaign can go the distance and that the early momentum that has shot him to prominence will not fade.
According to USA Today
, how Walker handles his early notice will have a big influence on whether he manages to stay on top going into the general election.
"He does have a buzz factor that is very real, if you talk to any of the activists in the early primary states," Kevin Madden, a GOP consultant who worked on Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, told USA Today. "What they know about him, they really like."
To date Walker has demonstrated progress in the "invisible primary," where he has positioned himself as a front-runner, and his fundraising and hiring is already well underway.
He has also had positive results at the CPAC gathering of conservatives, where he came in a close second to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And a Quinnipiac poll out on Thursday gave Walker the lead over Bush among Republicans nationally.
But he has begun to move to right in his positions, which will be the object of scrutiny going forward. In Iowa last weekend, he reversed his opposition on the renewable fuel standard that requires the use of corn-based ethanol in fuel — a standard popular in Iowa.
And he also changed his position on immigration, saying on Sunday that he no longer favors a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
"My mind has changed, I'm flat out saying it," he said on Fox News Sunday, according to USA Today.
These and additional policy reversals appear to be designed to appeal to conservative primary voters but will raise the possibilities of missteps, USA Today said.
Nevertheless, one commentator said his wide level of support already demonstrates that he is not just a "flavor of the month."
"[Walker] has an unusual breadth of support. He is drawing from conservative, anti-establishment voters who don't want Jeb Bush, but he is also drawing from establishment-oriented voters to whom he is a solid Republican governor," Ramesh Ponnuru, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told USA Today.
"In that respect, his achievement already exceeded that of the flavor-of-the-month candidate the last time around."
In addition, Walker can boast of a national fundraising network. Nearly 60 percent of donations for his gubernatorial run in 2010 came from out of state, USA Today said. And that donor network will likely support him in his a 2016 bid.
Still, others say that it's early and he will be under pressure to develop his views more clearly if he is to go the distance.
"You're only going to get away with 'no comment' or 'I don't have an opinion on that' for so long," said Madden, according to USA Today.
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