MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans either reiterated their support for Donald Trump or said nothing Monday, even after House Speaker Paul Ryan told nervous members of his caucus that he will not defend the Republican presidential nominee or campaign with him before the election.

Incumbent Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Sean Duffy, whose northern Wisconsin district was the only one Trump carried in the April primary, both stood by Trump while Gov. Scott Walker, legislative leaders and others were silent.

“I never endorsed Donald Trump because of his stance on women or his family values,” Duffy said in a statement. “I endorsed him for his policies … four years of Hillary Clinton would be unacceptable.”

Johnson told reporters following a campaign stop in Waukesha that he intended to vote for Trump because a Clinton presidency “would be the worst possible thing.”

“She’s completely disqualified from being president,” he said. Johnson said her “dereliction of duty” cost four American lives in Benghazi and her use of a private email server put national security at risk. Johnson, in an earlier radio interview, said Clinton “trashed the women that Bill Clinton abused” — a line of attack that Trump used against her in the presidential debate Sunday.

Johnson said the real question is why his opponent, Democrat Russ Feingold, continues to back Clinton. Feingold on Monday repeated his call for Johnson to revoke his support of Trump.

More than two dozen Republicans in Congress have called on Trump to step down and at least a dozen more have pulled their support, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte who are in tough re-election fights in battleground states.

Trump’s campaign was thrown into crisis Friday with the release of audio from 2005 featuring Trump making lewd remarks and bragging about how his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women. During the second presidential debate Sunday, the businessman dismissed his comments as “locker room” talk and insisted he had “great respect for women.”

At the debate, Trump turned up his attacks on Clinton, labeling her “the devil” and threatening to throw her in jail for her email practices at the State Department. He also accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of having been “abusive to women.”

While Johnson and other Republicans stood by Trump, Ryan told House Republicans that he would no longer defend or campaign for him and instead would focus on helping Republicans maintain their majority in the House, said one person on the call who demanded anonymity to describe the private conversation.

Ryan did not pull his own tepid endorsement of Trump, who shot back on Twitter that Ryan “should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.”

Ryan canceled a Trump campaign appearance in Wisconsin on Saturday in what would have been their first joint appearance. Ryan was heckled by some Trump supporters as he addressed the rally that was originally designed as a display of party unity.

Rep. Glenn Grothman, who represents the 5th Congressional District in the eastern part of the state, stood by Trump on Monday. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I am not prepared to have four more years of open borders, four more years of over-regulation of industry and four more years of spiraling welfare rolls just yet. I don’t feel like waiting four more years.”

The 8th Congressional District in northeast Wisconsin is open this year, and Ryan has said he’s focused on helping Mike Gallagher win the seat against Democrat Tom Nelson. Gallagher criticized Trump’s comments about women but has been generally supportive of his candidacy. On Monday, Gallagher again denounced Trump’s comments as “offensive and reprehensible” but said Clinton can’t be president because of how she handled the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, when she was secretary of state.

Republican Rep. Reid Ribble, who holds the seat now and is retiring after this year, was an early Trump opponent.

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (7)
  1. Linda Domek says:

    Typical politicians. Way to stand behind Trump. How do you think the Dems are going to react to all that silence? I saw all kinds of articles over the weekend about all the rats jumping ship. You politicians do have brains yet, don’t you? Instead of getting back to the reason the audio was released in the first place. Hillary’s comments were not too flattering to her agenda, sooooo diversion. You guys new here or are you that afraid to attract Clinton’s attention? No wonder this country is in such a mess! All you all are snakes I guess. And you all think we’re the stupid ones LOL what a joke. It’s also not a surprise that there is no one looking out for us deplorables. We just go to work and pay our taxes so you can give handouts to everyone, pad your own bank accts and push through your own agendas. Sad sad situation

  2. Rob says:

    What a complete loser.

    I bet he doesn’t get re-elected. He and his RINO buddies ARE the blank check.

  3. leftofright says:

    The reason why trump is the republican nominee is because people are sick and tired of the two parties only looking out for themselves. The democrats took care of that problem with the super delegates, but the republicans were too dumb to do such a thing and thus they were forced to take the anti establishment party person. So now in a completely bow down and arse smooching to the two party system, the republicans are once again caving into the party, instead of to the people. I guess no one has read “of the people, by the people FOR THE PEOPLE.” if the third party ever had a chance, this is their year….

    1. Thomas Evenstad says:

      Right arm Lefty!

  4. Bud Smith says:

    The only issue here is Trump doesn’t have a President, US Attorney General, and the propaganda press to help him.

    This election proves we need to revamp the primary process.

    1. Thomas Evenstad says:

      I agree Bud. What should be done?

  5. Thomas Evenstad says:

    What a crock! I bet his wife is behind this. This guy is a coward. Why isn’t he supporting our champion for president. All of these made up lies have gotten the leadership in an unnecessary underwear knot. They need to grow a pair and get this guy elected. We don’t need the women’s vote. If all the men vote we will have our winner. Those lying women are out to get Trump and the Clinton’s have paid them off. I’m sure of it. Trump is married and would never have conducted himself this way. He is the choice of Evangelicals and they wouldn’t have chosen him if they thought he was a groper. Ryan should have run as a Democrat. What a crotch!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Good Question
Best Of Minnesota

Watch & Listen LIVE