On Sunday afternoon, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spent what turned out to be his final full day as a Republican presidential candidate defending the fact that he was still in the race. 

Walker, who dropped out Monday afternoon, gave no hint of those plans as he appeared before small groups of Republican activists in several small towns near Cedar Rapids. Noting that Sunday's stops marked his 33rd Iowa county visit, he vowed repeatedly to visit the remaining 66 in the coming months. 

Walker did acknowledge the recent slump in polls that ultimately drove him from the race. A CNN poll released Sunday morning had him below 1 percent. But, noting his high-profile struggles in Wisconsin with public sector unions, Walker reminded Iowans that he'd been written off before. 

"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. He 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 elected office. 

"What people want is someone who says they're going to do something, and then do it," Walker said. 

With his wife Tonette in tow, Walker talked up his Wisconsin record, laid out what he'd do on his first day as president and bantered about the Green Bay Packers. They had a better weekend than Walker, beating the Seattle Seahawks 27-17 on Sunday night. 

Low-key and unassuming in front of small groups, Walker came across as every bit the Midwesterner he is. His early exit from the presidential race immediately drew 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 in the race. 

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