Wisconsin Republicans either reiterated their support for Donald Trump or said nothing last week, even after House Speaker Paul Ryan told nervous members of his caucus that he will not defend the GOP presidential nominee or campaign with him before the election.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, whose northern Wisconsin district was the only one Trump carried in the April primary, stood by Trump, while Gov. Scott Walker, GOP 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.”
Duffy’s district includes the towns of LaGrange, Lincoln, Scott and Byron and villages of Wyeville and Warrens in Monroe County and the towns of Knapp, Bear Bluff and City Point in Jackson County. He's being challenged in the Nov. 8 election by Democrat Mary Hoeft of Rice Lake.
Hoeft criticized Duffy's continued support for Trump during a Tuesday appearance in Hudson.
“Why do you continue to stand in support of a man who abuses women?” Hoeft was quoted in the Hudson Star-Observer.
In La Crosse, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson called Trump’s remarks about groping women “indefensible” but did not rescind his support for the nominee.
The first-term Republican, who is in a tight race against former Sen. Russ Feingold, deflected questions about Trump’s fitness to hold the office, talking instead about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“In a country of 320 million people, when you take a look at the two candidates, certainly I wish we had better role models,” Johnson said. “I’m certainly concerned about Hillary Clinton.”
Trump’s campaign was thrown into crisis Oct. 7 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.” Several women have accused Trump of unwanted sexual advances since the audio became public.
During the second presidential debate Oct. 9, Trump turned up his attacks on Hillary 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.”