DES MOINES — Gov. Scott Walker spent Monday in Iowa, shaking hands and grilling meat at the State Fair and greeting voters at campaign stops. It was his first time back in the Hawkeye State since falling from first place to third in state polling, where he now trails Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
Here are seven takeaways from Walker's day at the fair.
1. It's not time for Walker to worry about Trump — yet
"My advice to any candidate that's running, other than Trump, is: Don't worry about Trump," said U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. "Run your own campaign and hope you can be in second-, third-, maybe fourth-best, and be in a position to move to the front if something happens to Trump's campaign."
King praised the specifics offered in Trump's immigration plan released over the weekend, and said he hopes that will push other candidates to move away from generalities in their own policy declarations. Walker is scheduled to unveil his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota on Tuesday.
That's another chance for Walker to set himself apart, said Ryan Frederick, secretary of the Republican Party of Iowa and chairman of the Adair County GOP. Frederick said he's waiting for a candidate to move away from the Republican boilerplate and offer more in the way of unique specifics.
"I'm waiting for the guy who says the problem with Obamacare is the cost," Frederick said.
Frederick also noted that several candidates appear to be co-opting Trump's "Washington outsider" approach.
"If I were Scott Walker, I would say, 'Hey, I was against Washington before it was cool,'" Frederick said.
Frederick also dismissed the significance of polls at this stage of the race, especially in Iowa. Trump may do well with people answering polls based on name recognition, but they don't represent most caucus voters, he said.
"With a few rare exceptions, it's very difficult to poll the caucus," Frederick said.
Walker offered a similar interpretation of the polls, suggesting that people who say they'll vote for a certain candidate now might not actually cast that vote down the road.
2. Iowa voters want more details from Walker on immigration
Walker started his day with an appearance on Fox & Friends, where he said his immigration plan is "very similar" to Trump's.
Both candidates have called for strict adjustments to legal immigration and tough crackdowns on illegal immigration. Walker reiterated those points during his soapbox speech, and again when asked by an audience member whether he agrees with Trump that all undocumented immigrants should be deported.
"We need to secure the border, and that means more than talking about it. We actually need to secure the border in a way that's far greater than just immigration," Walker said. "I have been to the border, I've seen it. It is a national disgrace in terms of the threat to public safety, to national security and even to the sovereignty of this country. So, secure the border with infrastructure, the wall itself but also with the personnel and technology we need to make sure that's safe ... We need to enforce the laws, which means no sanctuary cities ... and I do not believe in amnesty ... and I think going forward, we need to have a legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families to focus on their jobs and their wages in a way that will improve the American economy."
Jenny Turner, of Burlington, who asked Walker the question, said she didn't feel he'd answered it. She said she's looking for more plain talk and more specifics, but added that she thinks Walker's record in Wisconsin is impressive and she believes a governor would make a good president.
Fred Binder, of Mount Pleasant, also said he'd like to hear more from Walker on deportation. Binder said he was impressed with what he heard from the governor, but said the country needs a stronger deportation policy.
Asked several more times by reporters, Walker did not elaborate on his position or answer the original question. But to MSNBC's Kasie Hunt, he indicated he does believe in ending birthright citizenship.
3. It's not just protesters following Walker from Wisconsin...
Darrell Beauchamp and his 12-year-old daughter, Anna, were wearing more Walker gear than just about anyone at the fair. They're from Wales, Wis., and said they've seen 12 candidates since Walker launched his campaign in Waukesha.
Beauchamp approached Walker's wife, Tonette, trailing behind a media scrum traveling with the governor.
"His reforms are working," he told her.
Beauchamp ticked off a list of Walker's accomplishments he admires: "He campaigned on things and did them. He killed the light rail, he reformed the government, he fixed the budget."
"He's a fighter," Beauchamp said, responding to the protesters who also came from Wisconsin. "That's what happens when you stand up for your principles and don't compromise. He's a man of courage."
4. ...but Walker attracts protesters and criticism, too
Protesters shouted throughout Walker's speech, then kept it up as he began his tour of the fair with Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. Representatives from Wisconsin Jobs Now and the Service Employees International Union held signs urging voters not to let Walker do to the U.S. what he did in Wisconsin. He mostly ignored jabs related to his failed promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs during his first term, his deal to allocate $250 million in public funds for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena and other contentious policies, but during his speech, he fed off the protesters, clearly energized by their presence.
"As Scott Walker was reminded at the Soap Box, he is a divisive, out-of-step politician who leaves working families behind at every turn," said Iowa Democratic Party spokesman Sam Lau in an email. "Walker has proposed massive cuts to public universities, reduced access to women's health care, and would raise the retirement age for Social Security. The jobs agency he created in his own state is scandal plagued and has delivered taxpayer money to his political donors, while Wisconsin is ranked dead last in job growth in the Midwest. He can yell at fair attendees all he wants, but Iowans have already heard his anti-middle class message loud and clear."
5. Fair attendees have mixed feelings about Walker, candidates in general
The following are statements heard from the sidewalks while a traveling scrum surrounding Walker pushed its way through the fairgrounds:
"Mommy, what's going on?" — a small, concerned child
"You suck!" — a man wearing and Iowa State University hat
"I wanted to meet him." — a disappointed woman
"Hey, we should go see Scott Walker." — a young man
"Who's that?" — the young man's girlfriend
6. Walker won't move while there's a U.S. flag in sight
In danger of being late for a radio interview, Walker's team had the tough job of shuttling him through the fairgrounds while reporters, protesters and fair attendees all tried to stay close. But it was Veterans' Day at the fair, and the second Walker saw an American flag go by across the street, all activity came to a halt as he put his hand to his heart.
"I'm my father's son," he said of the action.
7. Walker's advantage in Iowa: retail politics
After the fair, Walker had stops at a Maid-Rite in Webster City and a Pizza Ranch in Clarion, adding two more counties to his "Full Grassley" tour of Iowa's 99 counties.
Any Iowa caucus voter will tell you those events at small-town Iowa restaurants and community centers are the way to "win, place or show." It's a chance for candidates to shake hands, pose for pictures and, more importantly, answer voters' questions directly.
"Retail politics," said the state GOP's Frederick, when asked how Walker can hold onto a lead and regain ground in Iowa. "He has the distinct advantage of not being overrun with press like Trump."
That means voters don't have to fight a throng of cameras and recorders at every event in order to ask Walker a question, he said.