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Scott Walker outsider

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker listens during the first Republican presidential debate earlier this month.

Gov. Scott Walker is seeking a niche for his presidential campaign at a time when political neophytes are finding favor with fed-up voters.

Donald Trump, a businessman and reality television star, and Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, lead Walker in the latest Republican presidential polls nationally and in Iowa, the nation's first caucus state.

Neither Trump nor Carson have held elected office.

Walker is in his fifth year as Wisconsin governor and has been in public office for more than two decades.

There are early signs that may not be a winning resume in this environment. Once the clear frontrunner in Iowa, Walker has seen his support there tumble in polls after the first presidential debate.

Meanwhile, Trump and Carson have ascended past Walker in Iowa and national polls. Another outsider candidate who got a post-debate bump -- while still trailing Walker in most polls -- is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Walker was asked about those developments at the Iowa State Fair Monday, He responded that he believes poll respondents are supporting some candidates "as a matter of protest."

“I think it’s a reflection that people are extremely frustrated with Washington," Walker said. 

But Walker is the opposite of an outsider. Now 47, he has been in office since age 25, when he was elected to the state Assembly.

Asked about this, Walker reiterated a theme to which he returned often Monday. Walker said while in office, he repeatedly has challenged the status quo -- even against those in his own party who sought to defend it.

“It’s not about the job you’ve held. It’s what you’ve done in that job that matters," Walker said. "I think people want someone that they believe is going to shake things up in Washington."

Walker is betting voters will believe he can trigger such a shake-up -- even after he spent half a lifetime in the halls of power.

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Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.