Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker kicks off Nevada campaign (copy)

Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, shakes hands during a campaign event at a Harley-Davidson dealership on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

By wading into the debate over whether the Boy Scouts should ban gay troop leaders, Gov. Scott Walker did something on Tuesday he refused to do in 2013. 

In February 2013, Walker declined to say whether the Boy Scouts of America should lift its ban on gay troop leaders and employees. He said the topic never came up when he was in Scouts, and he didn't want to weigh in on a private organization's policies.

"I've got enough troubles and challenges dealing with what I have in state government to take on anybody else's challenges," Walker said at the time. 

But on Tuesday, asked about the Boy Scouts' vote to lift the ban, now-presidential candidate Walker told the conservative website IJ Review he "support(s) the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values."

LGBT rights advocates, including Rep. Mark Pocan and the Human Rights Campaign, called on Walker to renounce his statement

Asked about his comments by reporters in Las Vegas following a Tuesday campaign speech, Walker echoed his statement and said, "I think the previous policy was perfectly fine."

A Walker spokeswoman later said the old policy had "protected Scouts from the rancorous political debate over policy issues and culture wars."

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin took issue with that argument.

"The notion that scouts were 'protected' from debate is patently false. It put the scouts front and center in a raging debate and deprived the scouts of access to public facilities and support from a variety of public officials, among other things. This is why the board of the Boy Scouts voted unanimously to end the ban," Rubin wrote for the Washington Post.

By Wednesday, Walker had circled back to his 2012 position.

"When asked about gay leaders in the Boy Scouts, Scott Walker repeatedly tells reporters that it’s a decision best left to the Boy Scouts," the Washington Post's Jenna Johnson tweeted from a Walker event in South Carolina.

".@ScottWalker asked about #boyscouts comments, says "I'm not running to be president of the Boy Scouts... Those decisions are left to them," WISC-TV's Jessica Arp tweeted from the same event.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.

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