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"I think we're going to step it up and be more aggressive this time," Walker said

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, however, said he's not going to shake up his debate strategy

Ames, Iowa CNN —  

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is preparing to ditch his Midwestern-nice persona and show a sharper edge at the CNN Republican debate next week.

“I think we’re going to step it up and be more aggressive this time,” Walker told CNN Saturday, in between playing a game of cornhole and meeting tailgaters ahead of Iowa’s biggest football rivalry: the Iowa/Iowa State game.

“I really hope to be aggressive and make the case that we’re ready to wreak havoc on Washington,” Walker added.

In the first GOP debate in August, Walker played a more passive role, mainly waiting for the moderator to come around to him for his next question.

“I’m a Midwesterner,” he said. “We’re pretty polite.”

The wait-your-turn approach was a safe one. It meant Walker didn’t make any major errors, but he also didn’t appear to leave a lasting impression.

Once the Iowa front-runner, Walker has watched his lead evaporate in the Hawkeye State. Just 3% of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa said they were supporting Walker in a new Quinnipiac University poll. Former reality TV star Donald Trump leads the field in Iowa with 27% support.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also wound his way through the revelers at Saturday’s tailgate, even posing for a photo with some enthusiastic supporters from the Sigma chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity.

He, too, is fighting to gain momentum in the first nominating state. But so far that’s not inspiring him to shake up his debate strategy.

“Look, I’m just getting ready to go and answer the questions they ask us,” Rubio said. “It’s what we do every day on the campaign. The only difference is it’s going to be in front of millions of people all at once.”