During his first week as an official presidential candidate, roughly half of his organized campaign stops have been at Harley shops. And he has exclusively worn motorcycle boots -- his apparent campaign footwear of choice -- a detail he points out in just about every speech.
But while the Wisconsin governor, 47, is revving up his connections to the Milwaukee-based company on the campaign trail, Harley-Davidson appears to be steering clear of presidential politics.
“He is passionate about our brand like the millions of other loyal Harley-Davidson customers around the world,” Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim told ABC News in an e-mail message this week.
But here’s the fine print: Asked for a reaction to Walker’s heavy reliance on their brand in his campaign, Blankenheim noted that “there is no official relationship” between the company and Walker.
“It’s important to note our dealerships are independently owned and operated businesses,” Blankenheim wrote. “Harley-Davidson Motor Company does not endorse any candidate and remains neutral in political campaigns.”
Though an official Harley endorsement appears to be out of the question, that hasn’t deterred Walker from dressing up his Midwestern persona with black leather touches and tough biker talk.
“I wish I wasn’t so busy today, because I’ve got my Harley boots on, I could actually get on my Road King, I’m sure, but we’re going to come back and do some riding here in state,” Walker said at the top of his speech at Low Country Harley-Davidson shop in North Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday.
It’s an approach that is resonating with some prospective voters who interacted with the candidate during his swing through South Carolina Wednesday, his second stop in a six-state whirlwind kickoff tour.
South Carolina resident Mike Anderson said Walker has already sealed his vote, having proved “he’s a real man” with his Harley bona fides.
“I love Harleys and love Scott Walker,” Anderson said, joking he heard that Walker’s slogan is “Vote for me and get a Harley.”
“If he can get out there and ride on a Harley and ride with the common folk, he’s got my vote,” he said. “He’s in touch with middle America. You can talk to him like a human being back and forth he doesn’t stand above you, he looks at you.”
For other Harley enthusiasts like South Carolina resident and Harley owner Louie Cameron, he said it’s going to take much more than sharing interest in Harleys to seal his vote. He remains undecided, with Walker being just one among several candidates he said he’s surveying.
“It caught my attention that he was here; I thought that was neat,” said Cameron, who came to the North Charleston Low Country Harley shop Wednesday morning to hear Walker make his first pitch in the state as a declared candidate.
“I was able to bring my bike in and get my tire changed while I am here,” Cameron added, but that’s just an added perk.
The great irony to Walker’s attempt to ride his Harley to the White House is that if he ever gets to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., he will have to give up the open road for the presidential motorcade.
“They tell me if I win, I won’t get to ride, so I have to ride as much as I can,” Walker said during a stop at a barbeque restaurant in Lexington, South Carolina. “So I’m going to try and ride my bike as much as I can, here and in other states around the country.”