Wisconsin Gov. Walker writing book, could signal White House hopes

March 26 Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:04pm EDT

March 26 (Reuters) - Wisconsin's Republican governor, Scott Walker, is working on a book on the lessons he learned in his 2011 battle with the Midwest state's labor unions and how conservatives could apply them at a national level.

Observers said the book could be a signal that Walker, who last year became the first U.S. governor to survive a recall election, is contemplating a presidential bid.

"Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge" will be co-written by Marc Thiessen, a former speech writer for Republican President George W. Bush, and is tentatively scheduled to be published by Sentinel, part of the Penguin Group, late this year.

"Writing a book has become part of the template of U.S. presidential politics," said Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "It's part of the checklist of things you need to do as it apparently gives you credibility."

A spokesperson for Walker's 2012 election campaign said the governor "is excited to be working with Sentinel and looks forward to the launch of the book this fall," but referred any further comment to the publisher.

Walker sparked controversy in Wisconsin in early 2011 when he signed into law a bill passed by the new Republican-controlled state legislature that limited the collective bargaining rights of unionized public sector workers.

The law led to mass protests at the state capitol in Madison and a wave of recall elections, mostly against Republican officials.

Beloved by U.S. conservatives for taking on the labor unions, Walker has been reviled by liberals for what they decry as an attack on America's struggling middle class.

Walker is seen as one of a number of Republicans who may seek their party's presidential nomination in 2016. Others include Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Presidential hopefuls from Jimmy Carter ("Why Not The Best?" in 1976) to Mitt Romney ("No Apology" in 2011) have published books before or during their presidential bids, to varying degrees of success.

Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, said that a book makes sense for Walker, as it could boost his name recognition outside his home state and among conservatives.

"A book provides an opportunity to personalize Walker and give Americans a sense of who he is," Zelizer said. "It can also serve as an election pamphlet and help him shape the discussion about him before his opponents can do it." (Reporting by Nick Carey in Chicago; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)

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