Walker Defends Himself, Calls His Ethanol Position 'Consistent'

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)Charlie Neibergall / AP

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told a teleconference of tea party supporters Monday night that his latest position on ethanol mandates is "consistent" to his previous opposition to the measure.

Walker admitted that he opposes - and still does - mandates in his state of Wisconsin and told the Tea Party Patriots teleconference participants that he said in Iowa ten days ago that the federal mandates should be phased out. Iowans tend to look favorably at ethanol mandates because it derives from the plentiful corn crop. Tea party members are inclined to oppose the government mandate.

But Walker only talked about half the answer he gave in Iowa. Speaking at an agriculture summit, the likely Republican presidential contender also said ethanol mandates are "something I'm willing to go forward on - continuing the Renewable Fuel Standards and pressing the EPA to make sure that there's certainty, in terms of the blend levels, or in terms of the levels set."

Walker has been criticized for being a flip-flopper on multiple issues, including on ethanol mandates, also known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. At a weekend visit to New Hampshire, the first in the nation primary, Walker said he listens to people and has a "valid argument for ... what we've done." He blamed rival campaigns for being "frustrated" with his record of action.

On immigration, an issue where Walker has admittedly switched his position, he told the tea party conference, that his plan would not include "amnesty" and rely on E-verify, an electronic verification system. On a recent Fox News Sunday program, Walker, who previously backed a path to citizenship for those living in the country illegally, said, "My view has changed. I'm flat out saying it."

Walker also said a focus on the country's debt and deficit would be central to his presidential campaign, should he decide to run.

- Leigh Ann Caldwell

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