Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential contender who is riding high in polls in the early voting state of Iowa, was literally the leader of the pack on Saturday at a gathering of 2016 White House hopefuls.

Walker, the governor of neighboring Wisconsin, joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst at the head of a parade of about 300 motorcycle riders who traveled 39 miles (62 km)to Ernst’s inaugural “Roast and Ride,” a political event combining barbecue and the roar of Harley-Davidsons…

Walker, who built his reputation by taking on labor unions, has led the five most recent polls in Iowa, including the respected Des Moines Register poll. The Register showed him with a seven-percentage point lead over four tightly bunched rivals and found he was viewed favorably by two-thirds of likely Iowa caucus-goers.

“If the caucuses were today, he would win. Unless he really screws up, he should win,” said Doug Gross, state chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign and former chief of staff for longtime Governor Terry Branstad.

Mr. Walker, whose early surge in national polls has receded, still enjoys a decisive lead in Iowa, thanks to an unflashy style that resonates with Iowans’ Midwestern sensibilities and to an unusual appeal across a wide ideological swath of Republicans…

Mr. Walker’s favorability rating among likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa was higher than any other candidate’s, 67 percent, in a poll conducted at the end of May for The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics (with a five-point sampling error). He enjoyed a solid seven-point lead, an opening he first created with a passionate speech to conservatives in Des Moines in January…

So far, Mr. Walker has had an unusual ability to draw support from both the social conservatives and the business-oriented wing of the party.

The social conservatives embrace his signing of bills as governor to defund Planned Parenthood, and his strong expression that prayer is central to his life. Business conservatives admire that he cut taxes and dealt crippling blows to unions.

In case the symbolism wasn’t clear enough, the Wisconsin governor ticked through his Midwestern roots: As a boy he lived in Plainfield, Iowa. He grew up in Delavan, a small town across the state line in Wisconsin. His grandfather was a machinist in Rockford, Ill. The Harleys, he noted, are manufactured in Milwaukee, just a few blocks from his home in Wauwatosa, Wis…

The Wisconsin governor, who hasn’t formally announced a presidential campaign, is the only Republican who can tell Iowans he’s from the neighborhood—and he’s talking up his Midwestern roots at every turn. He’s not just playing to local self-regard: Central to his argument is that he can move Iowa and its neighbors into the win column for the Republican Party in 2016…

“The next Republican president is going to be elected through the Midwest,” Mr. Walker said at a fundraiser last month in West Des Moines…

“Geography can be a proxy for familiarity to the tone and the feel of a place that’s similar to a place you come from,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “It’s another way of saying, ‘I get you. I know you. I understand your concerns, and I can relate to people like you, because I’m like you.’”

But the anxiety that Iowans feel about their first-in-the-nation status being threatened is creating its own challenge for Walker, in large part because of Walker’s current popularity. In addition to worrying about the impact of the debates on retail politicking here, the Hawkeye State is also wringing its hands about the fate of the Iowa Straw Poll…

Walker, however, has not indicated whether he will participate, and so Iowans who see the Straw Poll as an indication of their political status have begun to look to him to save the event.

“If Walker joins those who pass on participating in the 2015 Straw Poll, the event will essentially be dead,” wrote Craig Robinson, an Iowa-based conservative blogger.

But Walker would risk losing momentum if he were to make an all out push at the Straw Poll only to lose to someone like surgeon Ben Carson. And yet he risks alienating Iowans if he skips the event. Perhaps he would only disappoint a small number of operatives and activists in the state. One Republican political operative with roots in Iowa downplayed the importance of the Straw Poll to the average caucus goer.

Nonetheless, Walker’s ability to lead the ride with Iowa’s newest senator gave him an advantage, in part because he had a media throng to himself for part of the day. A photo of him in a mirrored helmet was featured on the front page of the Drudge Report on Saturday with the headline, “Leader of the pack.”

In a talk with reporters after his speech, Walker struck back at the Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who criticized Walker and other Republicans by name on Thursday for establishing policies that she said make it harder for minorities and young people to vote.

Walker held up his driver’s license — flashing his Harley wallet in the process — to tout the voter ID law he signed in 2011. Asked if he supported a national voter ID law, he said he would prefer to leave the matter to the states.

“In our state we have a law that makes it easy to vote but hard to cheat,” Walker said. “It’s a common-sense proposal that Americans overwhelmingly support. It’s another example of how Hillary Clinton is squarely out of touch with where mainstream America is at.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he wouldn’t rule out a full-blown re-invasion of Iraq if he were to become the next commander-in-chief

“It would not be limited to anything out there,” Walker told ABC’s Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview with for “This Week.” “Once we start saying how far we’re willing to go or how many troops we’re willing to invest, we send a horrible message, particularly to foes in the Middle East who are willing to wait us out.”…

Obama, who has largely refrained from directly engaging the Republican contenders by name, recently took a swipe at Walker, saying he needs to “bone up” on his foreign policy credentials.

“I thought it was interesting for the president to say that — the guy who called ISIS the JV squad and Yemen a success story somehow suggesting someone else should bone up on foreign policy,” Walker said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he favors a constitutional amendment allowing individual states to ban same-sex marriage if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the practice this month.

“I personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”  “If the court decides that, the only next approach is for those who are supporters of marriage being defined as between one man and one woman is ultimately to consider pursuing a constitutional amendment.”

Such an amendment would allow each state to make its own decision.

KARL: So Governor Walker, you’re up in the polls nationally. You got a big lead here in Iowa, are you the frontrunner now?

WALKER: Well, I think Governor Bush is still probably up there up front because he’s going to have more money than just about all of us combined, but we’re feeling good.

KARL: You said not long ago that people don’t want an anointed leader in America. They don’t want someone whose part of a monarchy or legacy. You were talking about Hillary Clinton. But doesn’t that apply to Jeb Bush, too?

WALKER: Well, I mean I think it’s really the context. I hope people, I hope Republicans, I hope independents and even some discerning Democrats will see that we’re striking a stark contrast with Hillary Clinton. You know, we’re a new fresh face taking on someone from the past.