Scott Walker hardens tone on social issues to woo Christian conservatives

A few weeks before the November election, in an interview with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the governor sidestepped questions about his earlier opposition to abortion, and declined four times to answer directly when asked if abortion should be prohibited after 20 weeks — a position he had previously embraced. He also declined to restate his earlier opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest.

But in a breakout speech in Iowa on Jan. 24, he drew loud applause from the crowd of conservative activists when he declared that he had passed “pro-life legislation” in Wisconsin and “defunded Planned Parenthood.”

“It was strikingly a different portrayal of abortion than the way he portrayed it in the fall election here,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll, who closely follows Mr. Walker. “He has consistently played down the importance of abortion in Wisconsin as an issue.”…

Last fall, after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal to preserve Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage, Mr. Walker conceded, “For us, it’s over in Wisconsin.” During the meeting with Iowa Christian conservative leaders last month, when the same issue arose, he struck a different posture, said the person who attended.

“His comment was the court may feel as though the issue is settled at this point because they refused to hear our case, but for me the issue is not settled and we’re going to continue to fight for those values that are important to voters,” the attendee said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting with Mr. Walker, which included fewer than a half-dozen people, was meant to be private.