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Wisconsin Senator to Iowans: Too Much Presidential Politics Too Soon

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - First, Sen. Ron Johnson says, he's not in Iowa because he's running for president.

However, the Wisconsin Republican thinks that one or both of his Badger State colleagues 2012 vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker could be viable contenders for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Johnson, an Oshkosh businessman who was elected in 2010, was in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque Wednesday as part of Americans for Prosperity's 99-county Big Government Braley Tour. He was warning about unsustainable spending by the federal government.

Johnson finds the fact people are talking about the 2016 presidential race just nine months after the 2012 election to be disheartening.

"It tells you there is a lack of faith in this administration," he said.

To the question about who the Republican nominee might be, Johnson said there are "a number of viable contenders. Maybe too many."

Johnson, who comes from the Tea Party wing of the GOP, thinks the party may be "more stratified" than in 2012.

"We encompass a pretty broad spectrum," he said. Although the party may appear fractured on some issues, Johnson thinks there is less division on immigration, for example, than media reports might suggest. For many Republicans the issue is what is the most effective strategy. He supports immigration reform as long as it includes adequate border security and doesn't further strain the social safety net.

While encouraged by the enthusiasm he sees among Republicans, Johnson thinks there are too few people who are politically engaged. He attributes that, in part, to "event fatigue" because voters have been inundated with politics since the beginning of the 2008 campaign.

In the Senate, Johnson said, there's "way too much" presidential politics as people on both sides of the aisle are trying to line up support.

Rather than talking about who might run in 2016, Johnson would like to be having policy debates.

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