By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on July 13, aides said on Thursday, a high-profile late entry into the race and one whose hopes largely depend on how he does in Iowa.Walker has been exploring a White House run for months. He has remained near the top of the field by promoting his record of having defeated a 2012 recall effort over his challenge to the collective bargaining process for most public unions in Wisconsin. Aides said he will announce his bid on July 13 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He planned to file candidacy documents with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, they said. Walker, 47, got an early burst of support in January when he wowed conservatives at an Iowa forum for potential Republican candidates. He still leads opinion polls in Iowa, which holds the first nomination contest on Feb. 1 on the road to the November 2016 election. But he has dropped off a bit in the Midwestern state. A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday said he led the Republican field in Iowa with 18 percent, down several points from a previous poll. Iowa is essentially a must-win state for Walker. He is not faring as well in New Hampshire, whose primary contest comes soon after Iowa's caucuses and whose Republican voters are not as ardently conservative. Walker, in an interview with Fox News, said the Quinnipiac poll was a result of voters taking stock of a large field, which will grow to 15 candidates when he announces. "I think that shows a lot of enthusiasm not just in Iowa, but across the country for Americans," he said. Walker describes himself as "someone new and fresh" in an attempt to differentiate himself from one of the front-runners in the race, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. But Walker's right turn on some key issues has raised questions as to whether he is so intent on appealing to conservatives that he risks alienating middle-of-the-road voters who are typically decisive in presidential elections. In the wake of a Supreme Court decision last week that made gay marriage legal, he called for a constitutional amendment to let states decide their own marriage laws. Most other Republicans expressed opposition to the high court ruling and called for religious freedom protections but otherwise took a neutral stance in recognition of growing public support for same-sex marriage. (Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)
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