In New Hampshire, Scott Walker draws contrast with Jeb Bush
Willie Grace | 3/16/2015, 6 a.m.
CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Scott Walker brought his Midwestern swagger to New Hampshire on Saturday, leading a crowd of activists to cheers as he sought to draw a contrast to his top-tier rival in the unofficial GOP presidential race, Jeb Bush.
The Wisconsin governor, amid charges from critics that he's a flip-flopper, also acknowledged that he had changed positions on immigration reform but argued that he's remained consistent in everything else.
'Living the high life'
Walker was met with great fanfare at his only open event during his two-day stop to the first-in-the-nation primary state. Activists gathered at Concord High School for a training event that was hosted by the New Hampshire GOP and headlined by Walker's appearance.
The contrasts made against Bush were subtle, but Walker emphasized his modest roots as the son of a preacher and reiterated his penchant for shopping at Kohl's while armed with coupons.
"I actually stopped by Kohl's and bought this sweater in the rack where it's 70% off," he said, pointing to the sweater he was wearing. "And we paid one dollar for it with our Kohl's Cash ... so, living the high life."
Walker has used his humble beginnings and department store bona fides in Iowa, as well, a strategy aimed to cement the fact that he didn't grow up with "fame and fortune," as he frequently says.
He also put on a cap handed to him by an audience member with the logo for Gun Owners of New Hampshire.
"You've got a first-rate record on the Second Amendment; we hope you'll wear the hat often and keep up the good work," the man said. Walker wore it for the rest of his time on stage.
(While he may have donned the cap-and-sweater look Saturday afternoon, he was set to sport a tux later that night for his speaking appearance at the Gridiron Club's annual white-tie dinner in Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama was also scheduled to speak.)
Answering a question from another audience member, Walker also laid down his staunch opposition to Common Core, a set of testing standards that Bush defended as usual during his visit to New Hampshire on Friday. Walker also stood against re-authorizing the No Child Left Behind Act, another topic on which the two Republicans disagree.
Those comments came after Walker argued, in an interview with Tampa Bay Times on Friday, that Bush would represent a step towards the past, rather than the future.
"We had Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney. If it's just whoever's next up, that hasn't worked so well for the Republican party in the past," he said. "Jeb's a good man. You're not going to hear me speak ill will of Jeb ... I just think voters are going to look at this and say, 'If we're running against Hillary Clinton, we'll need a name from the future -- not a name from the past -- to win.' "