Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spent what turned out to be his final full day as a presidential candidate defending the fact that he was still in the race.
Walker, who dropped out Monday afternoon following dismal weekend polling, gave no hint that was under consideration on Sunday afternoon as he appeared before small groups of Republican activists in several towns near Cedar Rapids.
Noting that he was visiting his 33rd Iowa county on Sunday, Walker vowed repeatedly to visit the remaining 66 in the coming months.
Walker did acknowledge his slump in polls. A CNN poll released Sunday morning had him below 1 percent in Iowa, a grim turn for a Midwestern governor whose path to the GOP nomination relied on a strong showing in a state that neighbors his own.
But, noting his high-profile struggles in Wisconsin with public sector unions, Walker reminded small Republican crowds on Sunday that he'd been written off politically before coming back to win both a recall election and then regular re-election.
"I was so far behind in 2011 that Time Magazine called me 'Dead Man Walker,' " he told about 40 people gathered at a coffee shop in Amana. The 47-year-old governor found himself defending a long career in politics against a GOP field currently led by Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, none of whom has ever held elective office.
"What people want is someone who says they're going to do something, and then do it," Walker said.
With his wife, Tonette, along for the day in the Walker campaign RV, the candidate talked up his Wisconsin accomplishments, laid out what he'd do on his first day as president and bantered about the Green Bay Packers. Walker was sporting a white button-up shirt with a Packers logo, along with jeans and black motorcycle boots.
His beloved team had a better weekend than the candidate, beating the Seattle Seahawks 27-17 on Sunday night.
Low-key and unassuming as he talked to the small groups, Walker came across as every bit the Midwesterner he is. His early exit from the presidential race drew immediate comparisons to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another Midwestern Republican governor who dropped from the 2012 presidential race early after failing to meet expectations in Iowa polls.
Walker's withdrawal creates opportunities for other GOP candidates in Minnesota's March 1 presidential caucus, in which the Wisconsin governor was seen as an early favorite. Notable Minnesota Republicans, including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, had endorsed Walker.