- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker is “very likely” to get into the race for president but has yet to make a decision, a veteran Republican pollster and one of the governor’s top advisers said Wednesday.

Ed Goeas, president and CEO of The Tarrance Group, made the comments after a speech at the annual business day event organized by the state chamber of commerce. He told hundreds of Wisconsin business leaders that Walker is “just what the doctor ordered in terms of the future of the country” for Republicans looking to recapture the White House next year.

Walker spoke to the group later and did not make reference to his likely presidential bid.

“Some of the indicators coming back in are very positive, very positive for him looking at running,” Goeas told reporters. “But I don’t think he’s going to make that decision before he’s gone through the entire process.”

Goeas also said that he doesn’t believe Walker, who catapulted into the top tier of possible presidential candidates in the past month, is peaking too soon.

“There is no such thing in politics as peaking too soon,” he said.

Goeas said he expected Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to compete for the nomination.

“At the end of the day, it’s very likely you see both of them getting into the race,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a very spirited - not focused on each other - as much as focused on the future and kind of changing the direction of the country.”

The Republican field, with many candidates in their 40s like Walker, is a “very nice contrast” with likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Goeas said.

Walker, 47, has been busy traveling to early primary states, as well as courting donors and conservative activists, scoring well in early polls that show him at or near the top of the Republican field.

Walker’s speech was scheduled after a string of high-profile appearances outside of Wisconsin, including the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend in Washington. Walker made headlines there for saying, in response to a question, that his experience with protesters in Wisconsin prepared him to take on international terrorists.

And on Tuesday, after not taking a stand during his re-election campaign, he issued a statement saying he supports a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. Walker’s statement came after conservative activists criticized his response to a question about abortion in a national television interview Sunday, in which he said changing the federal abortion law was impossible because “the Supreme Court ultimately made that.”

Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said Walker was sick and would therefore not be taking questions from reporters on Wednesday, even though he was keeping his commitment to give the speech. Walker typically takes questions from reporters following public events.

Walker told the business leaders that he would sign a right-to-work bill into law on Monday. The measure is expected to pass the Assembly late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Goeas did polling for the state chamber, which backs right-to-work, and said he has not yet done any polling for Walker’s new political group Our American Revival. The Tarrance Group has done polling for Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns.

Walker next heads to Iowa on Saturday for an agriculture summit that will also attract other likely Republican presidential candidates. From there, he plans to travel to New Hampshire next week and South Carolina, another early primary state, later this month. After that, Walker plans to head to a Republican National Committee retreat at Boca Raton, Florida.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

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