MADISON, Wis. (AP) — When Donald Trump comes to Wisconsin next week, none of Wisconsin’s top Republicans will be there to campaign with him.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker are all skipping the Monday events in Green Bay and outside of Milwaukee.
Ryan and Walker won’t even be in the state.
None of the three has pulled his support for Trump, even as the Republican presidential candidate battles a growing number of sexual assault allegations. But Ryan, Johnson and Walker are distancing themselves from Trump as his campaign struggles.
Ryan earlier this week told Republican House members he would no longer defend or campaign for Trump after audio surfaced of him making crude comments about women. Walker condemned Trump for the remarks but did not comment Thursday on the new allegations and he has not reiterated his support for Trump since the audio was released.
Johnson denounced Trump’s crude remarks and left him to speak to the new assault claims.
“It’s up to Mr. Trump to address these allegations himself,” Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger said in an email.
Ryan spoke at a Waukesha County Business Alliance event in Brookfield on Thursday but did not mention Trump or the upcoming visit. Campaign spokesman Zack Roday said Ryan would be in Texas on Monday helping Republican House candidates there. Ryan’s trip was scheduled before Trump announced he was coming back to Wisconsin.
Walker, too, will be out of state Monday. He previously accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a GOPAC event in New Jersey to train Republican candidates for office.
“While Paul Ryan and Scott Walker won’t be sharing the stage with Donald Trump on Monday, their silence and continued support for his presidential campaign is proof that they share his dangerous views,” said Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Phil Shulman before Johnson also announced he wasn’t going to be there. “Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States, and now we know that Ryan and Walker are supporting a candidate who lacks the basic human decency voters require in their commander in chief.”
The latest Marquette University Law School poll released this week showed Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by 7 points in Wisconsin in the presidential races. That same poll showed Johnson’s Senate race with Democrat Russ Feingold to be about even. They are scheduled to debate for the first time Friday, and again Tuesday, and Johnson’s position on Trump was expected to be a topic of discussion.
Trump’s Wisconsin spokesman Matt Schuck said the programs for his two Monday stops were still being finalized. Other top Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos did not return messages seeking comment.
Ryan, at the Brookfield event, was greeted with a standing ovation and spoke for 20 minutes. It was a sharp contrast to Saturday, when Ryan was heckled at a Republican rally in his district after he canceled Trump’s appearance at the event.
Ryan left Thursday’s event without taking questions. The notice of the event, billed as a conversation with Ryan, promised that he would take questions from the audience for 30 minutes, but Roday said he couldn’t due to a tight schedule.
Ryan did not make any direct reference to Trump in his speech but said he wished the campaign was focused on issues and not “all the mudslinging and the mess that’s out there on TV.”
“Forget about the buzz of the day or what Twitter storm is going on in the last 20 minutes, last five minutes,” he said to laughter.
After Ryan distanced himself from Trump earlier this week, Trump took to Twitter to blast Ryan calling him a “very weak and ineffective leader.”
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