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Women could decide Scott Walker race for governor in Wisconsin

As Scott Walker has tried to avoid talking about his opinions on rolling back reproductive rights, Mary Burke laid out a clear position Wednesday.
Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker campaigns for re-election at a manufacturing company in Racine, Wis. on Sept. 23, 2014.
Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker campaigns for re-election at a manufacturing company in Racine, Wis. on Sept. 23, 2014.

The race for governor in Wisconsin is tied again, as Democrat Mary Burke and incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker answered questions from one of the state's major newspapers. 

The Marquette Law School Poll found Burke and Walker tied at 47% of likely voters, after a poll two weeks ago had Walker up by five points.  And the poll, which was conducted in the days after Walker's campaign ran an ad with misleading information about his positions on abortion, showed that Walker is now even with Burke among women voters, who had tipped heavily towards Burke before now.

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Walker has been working to obscure some of his more extreme stances on social issues as his name has circulated more in conversations about potential 2016 presidential contenders, and he kept it up at his appearance at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday. Walker tried to dodge questions about whether he believes a fetus is a citizen of Wisconsin or if he supports a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but he has supported banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest as recently as two years ago.

"That's something we'll have to discuss in the next legislative session if it comes up," Walker said, after suggesting that the fact that the Supreme Court upheld the right to abortion 40 years ago meant his opposition wasn't important.

Burke was far more straightforward in her answers on Wednesday. When asked what she thought of the new restrictions passed under Walker that institute a 24-hour waiting period and an ultrasound for women seeking abortions, she said no. Restrictions like this, Burke said are "just an attempt to put a road block in front of women" who are trying to make health care decisions. She also promised to veto a 20-week ban if it landed on her desk.

But unlike Walker, who was able to dismiss attempts to illuminate his position on abortion rights as "interesting questions that, quite frankly ... on the road I don't hear anyone ask," Burke was asked to explain how she came to support women's reproductive rights and how they mesh with her upbringing as a Catholic. 

"I can’t pinpoint any particular event that would contribute to what that is, something that has come through my upbringing and experience," she said. "I believe that women should have the ability to make their own decision when it comes to decisions that concern their own bodies."

"Whether people abide by their religious beliefs or science, I abide by what the Supreme Court decided," Burke said.