Democrat Russ Feingold claims U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is trying to have it both ways by saying he will not endorse Donald Trump, but will support him as the Republican presidential nominee.
The GOP Senator reportedly told a Janesville radio show over the weekend that there’s a difference between supporting and endorsing a candidate, and he is simply standing by a pledge to support the Republican nominee.
During a stop in Madison Wednesday, Feingold, who is challenging Johnson in November, called that political doublespeak. “It’s the ultimate Washington insider trying to keep his seat in the Senate by somehow trying to fool the people that don’t like Trump into thinking he’s not really for them, but trying to fool the people that are for Trump that’s he’s really with them,” he said.
Feingold is challenging Johnson this November for the seat he lost to the Republican in the 2010 election.
AUDIO: Feingold accuses of Johnson of using political doublespeak (:45)
A spokesman for Johnson’s campaign responded to the claims of the Senator playing politics with his support by saying “Senator Feingold sure does spend a lot of time thinking about political strategy — he’s gotten pretty good at the Washington insider game over 18 years in DC. Ron spends his time focused on doing his job for Wisconsinites, trying to keep America secure, and fighting to protect the interests of hard-working taxpayers.”
Spokesman Brian Reisinger also noted that Johnson was a supporter of Governor Scott Walker, who was seeking the Republican nomination, but has been saying since the governor dropped out that he would support the eventual nominee.
Feingold also called on Johnson to take the same approach as Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI), who has refused to support Trump as the GOP nominee. “He should use some responsibility and reject this candidacy, because America should come ahead of political party or his own political neck.”
Feingold himself has so far declined to weigh in on the Democratic presidential contest between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Asked about his reluctance to do so while also attacking Johnson, Feingold said he would endorse the eventual nominee without reservation. “I believe it is detrimental for me to take sides…What does it do? It doesn’t accomplish anything,” Feingold argued.