Several supporters say Walker appears to have had too many meetings with too many experts, turning him into a more timid version of himself. They miss the Midwestern candidate who focused on economic issues like weakening public unions, making painful cuts to the budget and reducing taxes by more than $2 billion.

A former Republican officeholder said Walker needs to project the political persona that first made him attractive to conservatives, rather than seemingly lurch further to the right on issues that never have been at his core.

“The Walker of the Iowa caucuses is not the Walker that people were used to seeing in Wisconsin,” said the Republican official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to offer a candid view of Walker’s candidacy.

Walker said last week in North Carolina that he is “the same Scott Walker” he has always been and that any perceived shifts are exaggerations driven by the media. Although Walker once boasted about being a front-runner, he now says early polls are not a clear predictor of who will win the nomination months from now.