Walker rejected comparisons between him and Ron DeSantis, telling NBC News that the Fla. governor was well-positioned to make the case for a 2024 run.
In 2015, then-Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker was seen as one of the party's strongest prospects to win back the White House, as he had become a star among conservatives over his moves to curb the powers of public-sector unions.
Headed into the 2016 presidential election, many expected Walker to dominate the Republican primaries and earn the party's nomination to face former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But then Donald Trump
Walker jumped into the GOP race in July 2015, but left the race that September, before any of the primaries or caucuses had even been held.
In an interview with NBC News, Walker argued that former President Trump "has earned the right to be in this race and understandably the front-runner" due to his record while in the Oval Office, even as some GOP activists and politicians are seeking to move beyond the former president and embrace another candidate who can carry a conservative message and is less polarizing to voters that the party will need to win over in 2024.
"I wouldn't write him off, but he's not the new, completely different outsider that he was in 2016 that all of us were not able to overcome," Walker said of Trump during the interview.
The former governor, who lost his reelection bid for a third term in 2018 and now serves as president of the Young America's Foundation, also had a warning for the party as it looks to nominate a standard-bearer next year.
"Even if voters look to someone new, potentially someone of a younger generation, I think we as conservatives have got to be very careful that we don't lose touch with the voters who were energized by President Trump in '16 and '20," he said.
Some political observers have sought to compare Walker to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who could potentially jump into the 2024 presidential contest and would likely be a top competitor to Trump, pointing him out as a cautionary tale of a politician who could peak too soon.
In numerous national polls, Trump maintains leads among Republicans, but DeSantis in recent months has edged out the former president in polling in several key states among GOP voters.
However, Walker told NBC News that DeSantis was dealing with different circumstances and noted that the Floridian was in a "good position" to articulate his vision for seeking the Republican nominee should he decide to enter the race.
"DeSantis is in a good position. Basically, DeSantis' argument should be that if you want the same kind of toughness, if you want the same kind of pushback without the sharp edges, he's your guy," the former governor told the news outlet.
Walker then contended that the fundamentals of the 2024 race are "probably better" for DeSantis than they were for him in the 2016 contest, when Trump was a first-time candidate who quickly captured the hearts of minds of legions of base Republicans.