Scott Walker, Republican Governor of Wisconsin, said today that young Republicans are splitting from conservative views on same-sex marriage, and suggested the party would have to take a softer line on social issues in future.

During an appearance on Meet The Press, a weekly interview programme on NBC, Mr Walker was questioned whether young conservatives back Republican equal marriage supporters.

The show’s host asked: “Are younger conservatives more apt to see marriage equality as something that is, you know, what they believe, that is basic rather than as a disqualifying issue?”

Mr Walker replied: “I think there’s no doubt about that. But I think that’s all the more reason, when I talk about things, I talk about the economic and fiscal crises in our state and in our country, that’s what people want to resonate about. They don’t want to get focused on those issues.”

In a separate interview on Saturday Mr Walker was asked if he would be running for President in 2016. He replied that he was “not ruling it out”.

The Meet The Press discussion was prompted by an announcement this week by Republican Senator Rob Portman, who was among the original sponsors of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

He announced that he had changed his anti-equal marriage stance, following the personal revelation of his own son’s coming out as gay.

Mr Portman was labelled “a very troubled man” by a conservative group, and a Christian group also mocked him for his revelation, comparing homosexuality to drink driving.

In an interview, the United States House Speaker John Boehner, a friend of Senator Portman’s said that he “can’t imagine” he would “ever” change from his current stance in opposition to equal marriage.