Scott Walker gives signs that he's all in for 2016

After a well-received speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced formation of a fundraising committee – a typical sign that a candidate is serious about running for president. 

Jim Young/Reuters
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) walks off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday. Governor Walker had a breakthrough moment at a forum for conservatives in Iowa and on Tuesday took a step toward a US presidential run.

Recent days have been good for Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker. With a few deft moves, he’s sliding upwards in pundit rankings of GOP 2016 contenders, though he’s still in the middle of the pack of voter polls.

First, he did well with a speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit over the weekend. Many attendees judged him the breakout winner of this cattle call for presidential wannabes, which was otherwise notable mainly for a less popular Sarah Palin appearance.

Governor Walker talked forcefully about how he had defeated public sector unions in Wisconsin and then survived a subsequent recall vote. He said voters back a “go big” agenda even if they don’t agree with all the particulars. He seemed personable and articulate, according to some commentators.

“Despite the questions about [Walker’s] charisma, he’s getting rave reviews for his passion in his appearance this weekend,” writes Eliana Johnson of the right-leaning National Review.

Next, Walker made headway in the all-important Rush Limbaugh primary. OK, Rush did not in fact endorse him – the talkmeister does not always pick sides in GOP primaries. But he gave Walker a big shoutout for his Iowa performance.

“You know that I believe Scott Walker is the blueprint for the Republican Party if they are serious about beating the left,” said Limbaugh on his show Monday. “Scott Walker has shown how to do it.”

If Limbaugh sticks to this line it could give Walker some protection against attacks on his views on immigration, which are suspiciously squishy to those on the right, points out Allahpundit of the "Hot Air" blog.

In the past, at times Walker has sounded as if he supports a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants. He talks about a more accommodating legal immigration system as a way to solve the illegal immigration problem. Such a position might earn him some opposition from, say, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas.

“Having Rush Limbaugh talk [Walker] up now to grassroots righties as a proven winner will help deflect those attacks," writes the conservative Allahpundit.

Finally, Walker on Tuesday took a step that’s become the mark of seriousness about a presidential run: He announced formation of a fundraising committee. Jeb Bush used such a move as a means to indicate he’s really serious about a 2016 bid. Walker has now done the same thing with his Our American Revival organization.

But there’s a difference with Bush – Walker’s group is a so-called "527 committee," while Bush’s is a leadership political action committee. A 527 allows its sponsor more freedom, in the sense that it is legally able to raise unlimited amounts of money from any source and spend freely. It will have to report donors and expenditures, but to the Internal Revenue Service, not the Federal Election Commission.

They are prohibited from directly supporting or opposing a presidential candidate. That’s why they’re typically used for issue advocacy groups, not White House hopefuls. But at this point, of course, Walker is technically not a candidate. When he officially announces, he’ll have to cut direct ties with Our American Revival.

You’ll notice we said “when” he announces, not “if.” Walker’s all in for 2016. That’s what really became clear this week.

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