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VOL. 130 | NO. 142 | Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gov. Walker Shuns Trump's Presidential Primary Attention


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he's not worried about the attention Donald Trump is getting in his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Walker, who launched his bid last week, spoke to voters before taking questions from reporters at Puckett's Restaurant and Grocery in downtown Nashville.

Republican leaders and other 2016 candidates have been frustrated by Trump's brash campaign, which has often overshadowed their own in recent weeks.

It began when the billionaire businessman described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals in his announcement speech last month, and over the weekend he mocked Arizona Sen. John McCain's experience as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam.

When Walker was asked whether he's frustrated with Trump's publicity, the governor referenced his own campaign, comparing it to when he used to run track and runners would sprint out ahead.

"I used to run track, and I ran the half-mile," Walker said. "I realized there were some folks sprinting out ahead. I made sure I was ahead at the end of the race when it really mattered."

Thursday's visit to Tennessee was the fourth for Walker, who said the state is a key part of his strategy to win votes in the South.

"We think Tennessee is going to be important," Walker said. "We've got a substantial number of Republican lawmakers that have supported our candidacy thus far. We want to build off of that, and we think that's a part of the strategy to do well throughout the primary process and throughout the South going forward."

Walker's campaign has had to deal with controversy early on. The economic development agency he created to entice a quarter-million jobs for Wisconsin has been plagued with allegations of botched underwriting, ineffectiveness and favoritism.

As the agency's chairman, Walker appointed its top officials and six members of its 15-person board. Among its early awards: $1.2 million in grants and loans for a company that said it could turn dirty plastic forks and ketchup-stained napkins into jobs.

The company, Green Box NA Green Bay LLC, said its world-changing technology would produce recycled products, electricity and even diesel from fast-food waste and promised to employ 116 people. But Walker's agency appears not to have looked adequately into Green Box.

Company founder Ron Van Den Heuvel owed millions of dollars in legal judgments to banks, business partners, state tax officials and a jeweler. Patents it said it owned are listed as belonging to other entities, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Green Box is now in court-ordered receivership.

Walker told reporters Thursday that the agency has made improvements.

"The issues they raise are literally from cases that happened four years ago when that agency first started," he said. "They've put in place many positive reforms since then."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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