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Why Harley-Davidson May Not Be the Perfect Ride for Scott Walker

The Wisconsin-based manufacturer has at times been the beneficiary of the kind of government assistance Walker so often criticizes.
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, sits on a Harley Davidson motorcycle as he awaits the start of a group ride at Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, sits on a Harley Davidson motorcycle as he awaits the start of a group ride at Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

For Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a symbol of American freedom, independence and his own status as a regular guy. He rides a hog and has made the iconic machine a centerpiece of his campaign, staging events at Harley dealerships and even invoking the brand during his closing statement in last week's debate.

While it may seem natural for a Wisconsin governor to tout the product of a company headquartered in his state, there are ironies in Walker's embrace. Harley's success has been helped by two entities that the budget hawk has built his reputation battling: government and labor unions.