Scott Walker gets ready

As Walker shook hands, posed for pictures, and spoke to the group gathered in Roberts’s dining room and an adjoining room — men and women separated by a wall, as is the Orthodox Jewish custom — the broad outlines of a campaign platform were clear. In a 20-minute speech and a question-and-answer session that followed, he touted his expansion of school vouchers to religious institutions, cited his victory on tort reform, and recounted staring down Wisconsin’s public-sector unions and the protesters who stormed the state on their behalf.

You could see him taking subtle shots at his potential rivals. The governor took a swipe at his friend Chris Christie on Christie’s home turf, touting his own success reducing property taxes in Wisconsin after a decade of steady increases. New Jersey’s astronomical property taxes are notorious, and Christie, who has a full-blown budget crisis on his hands right now, has done little to address the problem.

On foreign policy, Walker positioned himself firmly in the establishment camp, dismissing arguments that Republican voters want to see the United States reduce its engagement with the world. “I don’t believe that,” he said. Without naming him specifically, he rejected the idea that Kentucky senator Rand Paul has captured the hearts and minds of Republican voters on matters of foreign policy. “I believe fundamentally the reason why many young voters are suspect about foreign policy and the wars and many things like that is that they just haven’t been properly administered,” he said.