After stumbling in national and early state polls, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will seek to “inject himself” into Wednesday night’s CNN debate, aides to the Republican hopeful tell NBC News.
“If he gets the chance to mix it up, he’s going to” do that, an adviser to the governor said.
The move marks a tactical change for Walker, who was criticized for fading in the first GOP presidential debate last month.
“You don’t want to leave it on the table,” said an aide, who added that Walker aims to engage early as the 11-candidate debate gets underway in Simi Valley, California.
On Tuesday, Walker completed a five-hour “last session” of debate prep in California. His team did not stage a mock debate, but instead worked through questions and answers with a timer clock.
Walker has faded from the top tier as real estate mogul Donald Trump and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson have surged to the top of the GOP pack. A CBS/New York Times poll released on Monday showed Walker with just 2% support, down from 10% last month.
The Wisconsin governor is now expected to spend more time in Iowa, where his Midwestern roots and evangelical appeal had once made observers consider him a natural fit.
Walker, who has spent about five days a month campaigning in Iowa, will ramp those appearances up towards an “aggressive” goal, aides said. Walker intends to complete a full 99-county tour in an Iowa made Winnebago.
Team Walker contends that despite the governor’s deflated position, they still have advantages in the early caucus state. They say Walker’s favorable ratings with repeat Iowa caucus goers remain high and that their “organizational muscle” is poised to turn out 25-thousand caucus goers. Walker himself will attempt to use the Reagan Library debate to pivot to his Wisconsin record and reference specific policies he has already rolled out.
This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.