In his more than 20 years in politics, Gov. Scott Walker has never wavered on his stance on abortion issues. But he has demonstrated flexibility in the way he frames it.
The most illustrative example of this was his 2014 re-election campaign, running against Democrat Mary Burke.
After being repeatedly slammed by pro-choice groups like Emily's List, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood for signing into law a bill that requires women to undergo ultrasound exams before getting abortions, Walker ran an ad that described the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy as "an agonizing one."
"That’s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options," Walker said, looking directly into the camera. "The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Now, reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens."
The ad was knocked by some pro-life advocates for sounding too soft on the issue and by pro-choice groups who said it misrepresented his position. But Walker won the election, continuing a long streak of victories.
That ad has continued to come up as Walker parlays his experience in Wisconsin into a presidential bid. A recent New York Times article reported that Walker "went on to write and design the commercial himself."
"I didn’t like the ad. You’re using the other side’s garbage and it’s not helpful," Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance told Politico earlier this month.
Nance told Politico despite her displeasure with the ad, she never doubted Walker's position on the issue. She said she was "thrilled" he would soon sign into law a 20-week abortion ban.
But despite the conservative cred earned with the 20-week ban, Walker was asked about the ad once again by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday.
Ingraham told Walker she knows where his heart is on the issue, then played audio from the ad and asked why the ad included a line about leaving the decision to a woman and her doctor.
"Because we wanted to make the point — you had the pro-abortion, the NARAL, and Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood and others out there tying to twist our ultrasound language into something that it wasn’t. We wanted to make the case, this is all it does, it doesn’t do anything else for all them complaining about this, it doesn’t change that decision," Walker said. "I still believe that you’re talking about an unborn child as a human being, and I believe that, and I have articulated that for more than 20 years, all the way back — a lot of the people you were sitting with are folks I worked with at Marquette Students for Life when I was a student in college. I’ve always had a strong pro-life position, I’ve always defended that. But, for us, it made it able to wipe that issue right off the table because we pushed back and said, what we were proposing was a positive, strong common sense thing to do to get people information."
Ingraham responded: "But you don't believe — I just want to clarify this, governor ... you don't believe the final decision should be between a woman and her doctor—"
"No," Walker replied. "I believe it's an unborn child. My point was, in pointing that out, is the bill, all it does, is require an ultrasound. It didn't change what the law is."
Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff responded to Walker's interview with Laura Ingraham by saying he is "setting himself apart as the most craven political opportunist" among the field of Republican presidential contenders.
"It's appalling that not only does Scott Walker think he knows better than women and our doctors, he was dishonest with the people of Wisconsin about what he really believes," Baldauff said.