- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker saved the most important state of his campaign for the last stop on his presidential announcement tour, arriving in Iowa on Friday for a weekend of events.

Walker, who entered the Republican contest Monday, is investing heavily in the leadoff caucus state and was greeted with enthusiasm in Davenport and Cedar Rapids. In a crowded Republican field, Walker is well-known in neighboring Iowa and he said he expects to be competitive here.

“Certainly the first state to take a vote is incredibly important. We think we can compete in all the early states at least to be first, second or third place,” said Walker, who added that Iowa is a key general election state as well.

Before packed rooms, Walker characterized himself as a fighter who successfully limited union power and weathered a recall election in Wisconsin. He promised to bring that fight to Washington, saying he would repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, seek more local control of education and aggressively deal with terrorists abroad.

“The greatest threat to future generations is radical Islamic terrorism,” Walker said.

Walker also held a moment of silence for four Marines who died in a shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tennessee. One of them was from Wisconsin.

Walker is touring the state in a motor home as he tools around Iowa this weekend, stopping at various places including a Christian conservative gathering Saturday. He pledged to visit all 99 counties in Iowa before the caucuses.

Walker declined to weigh in on the rising-star power of fellow candidate Donald Trump, the businessman and reality television star. Trump has drawn criticism for comments he has made recently about Mexican immigrants.

“Donald Trump can speak for himself. I’m going to answer questions about my positions, not about Donald Trump’s or Jeb Bush’s or Marco Rubio’s or anybody else out there,” Walker said.

Supporters attending the events said they felt positive about Walker’s chances to become the Republican nominee.

“He’s a social conservative and a fiscal conservative,” said Judy Jamison, 61 of Bettendorf. “He has everything the conservatives in Iowa want.”

Still, high expectations in Iowa present risks if Walker does not perform as well as anticipated.

But Walker said he was not worried: “Obviously in polls you like it if you’re ahead whether it’s here or anywhere else in the country, but in the end we know there’s a lot of time, a lot can happen between now and then.”

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