Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, days removed from a glowing reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference, is now admitting to changing his stance on the hotbed issue of immigration to a position more palatable to conservatives.
Walker, in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” that was taped Friday but aired Sunday, acknowledged that he, at one point, supported comprehensive immigration reform that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and granted them a pathway to citizenship.
“My view has changed. I’m flat out saying it,” Walker said. “I don’t believe in amnesty.”
Walker has emerged as a favorite among conservative Republicans and is widely expected to run for President in 2016, but as attention over a potential candidacy has grown, so, too, has scrutiny on a slew of comments he’s made over his political career.
Walker, who finished a close second in the CPAC straw poll Saturday night, said he now supports immigration measures that are typically more popular among conservative voters, like securing the border with Mexico.
But in 2013, he told the Wausau Daily Herald, when asked if he could “envision” a system where undocumented immigrants could become U.S. citizens by paying penalties and observing waiting periods,” that he thought “it makes sense.”
Walker, in his Fox News interview, also rejected controversial comments made by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a fundraiser held for him, questioning President Obama’s patriotism and love for America.
“I think, in the end, (Obama) and anybody else who is willing to put their name on the ballot certainly has to have the love for country to do that,” said Walker, who had been criticized for not speaking out against Giuliani’s comments.
In addition, the Badger State Republican backed away from yet another set of comments that ignited controversy — at CPAC he compared taking on protesters in Wisconsin to being able to fight ISIS terrorists if he were elected President — clarifying that he was “not comparing those two entities.”
“What I meant was, it was about leadership,” he said. “The leadership we provided under extremely difficult circumstances, arguably, the most difficult of any governor in the country, and maybe, in recent times, in taking on the challenge of not just the protesters, but everything we had to do the last four years in stepping up and fighting the leadership to move our state forward.”
“To me, I apply that to saying if I were to run and if I were to win and be commander-in-chief, I believe that kind of leadership is what’s necessary to take on radical Islamic terrorism,” Walker said.