Walker trip fuels 2016 Presidential speculation

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by Chris Patterson

(CNN) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker heads to Iowa Thursday, stoking speculation that he's considering a run for the White House in 2016. But the Republican governor is downplaying the visit to the state that votes first in the presidential caucus and primary process.

Walker will headline the Polk County, Iowa Republican Party fundraising event, at the invitation of Iowa's GOP governor, Terry Branstad. Polk County, home to the capital city of Des Moines, is the most populous county in the Hawkeye State.

Walker became a national name and a hero to conservatives two years ago when he pushed through Wisconsin's state legislature a bill that limited the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. The move sparked massive protests which resulted in a recall election, which Walker won.

In interviews earlier this year, Walker said he was open to the possibility of running for president, but said he loves being Wisconsin governor and is not running for any other office other than re-election as governor in 2014.

"Yeah, I'm going to Iowa, but I get invited to other states that have nothing to do with presidential politics," Walker recently told reporters, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. "Terry Branstad is a good friend and asked me to come on over. I said, 'We'll do that.' I do other surrounding states. It's an easy trip, to still put a good day's work in and get over to Iowa."

But regards of his playing down of the visit to Iowa, there's plenty of speculation by political pundits that Walker is considering a bid for the White House. He's writing a book about his life and political career, he fired up the audience in March outside Washington at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the largest and oldest gathering of conservative leaders and activists from across the country, and he addressed the annual gathering of the National Rifle Association, held in Houston, Texas this year.

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