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Jan 8, 2015 5:51 PM

Walker says he's praying over whether to run for president

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he's praying over whether to run for president in 2016 and plans a trip to Iowa in a few weeks as he looks at ways to raise money to pay for a potential campaign.

Walker began his second term Monday and confirmed that he's hired Rick Wiley, a former political consultant at the Republican National Committee and executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, to serve as an adviser.

"If you're serious about considering something, you should spend the time, put in the right people to advise you, so that if you make that ultimate decision, it's not something you backed your way into," Walker told reporters after speaking Thursday at a meeting of the Wisconsin Bankers Association.

Walker was asked at the meeting about his interest in seeking the White House, and as he has said in the past, he answered that he would only get into the race if he felt "called" to run. Later, when asked by a reporter if he was praying about the decision, Walker said he was.

"Any major decision I've made in my life, politics or otherwise, I've tried to discern God's calling on," said Walker, the son of a Baptist minister. "So this would be part of it."

A former Milwaukee County executive, Walker was elected governor in 2010 and less than two months into his term proposed a measure that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers in the state. Wisconsin erupted in protests and became the national center of the debate over union rights.

Walker prevailed in getting the measure passed, and in 2012 survived a recall effort that grew out of anger over the union proposal. He was the first governor to survive such a recall effort, further raising his national profile and talk of a presidential run.

Democrats in Wisconsin argue Walker is a failure as governor, pointing to the state's $2.2 billion budget shortfall, employment numbers that lag other Midwestern states and his decision not to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Walker is scheduled to attend a Jan. 24 event in Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored by Citizens United and Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King. Walker was last in Iowa in September for an economic conference.

Other confirmed guests at the summit include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Walker said he believes the next president should be a former governor, and said he would use the meeting to tell the story of what he's done in Wisconsin.

"If I were to run, I wouldn't run just for the sake of running," Walker said. "I'd run because I thought I had something unique to offer the American people and that I could do good for this country and I'd run with the full intention of winning."


Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP


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