Brookfield – Donald Trump, turning his focus to Wisconsin even as another controversy cast a shadow over his campaign, said Tuesday he will no longer honor his pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee. And his two Republican rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also refused to say they would support Trump or whoever is the nominee.
Wisconsin’s April 5 primary is shaping up as pivotal in the Republican race. Should Cruz win, it would narrow Trump’s already tight path to the nomination and raise the prospect of a contested convention in July in Cleveland where delegates might turn to other candidates should the real estate mogul fail to win on the first ballot.
All three Republicans appeared separately at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee one week before Wisconsin’s April 5 primary. Both Democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, also campaigned in the Midwestern state.
Trump said he was rescinding his promise to back the Republican nominee because “I have been treated very unfairly.” He listed the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party and the party establishment among those he believes have wronged him.
Kasich and Cruz also refused to say whether they would stand by the pledge.
“If the nominee is somebody I think is really hurting the country, and dividing the country, I can’t stand behind them,” Kasich said. Cruz refused to commit to backing Trump, saying if the billionaire businessman were the nominee it would hand the election to Clinton.
Trump also said he thinks the top roles of the U.S. government include security, health care and education, even though he has called for eliminating the U.S. Department of Education.
Trump arrived in Wisconsin fending off another controversy. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with misdemeanor battery in Florida on Tuesday over an altercation with a female reporter earlier this month, prompting Cruz to accuse the front-runner of fostering a culture of “abusive behavior.”
Trump heads into Wisconsin with 739 delegates to Cruz’s 465. Kasich lags behind with 143. Wisconsin has 42 Republican delegates, with 18 going to the statewide winner and 24 divided among the winners in each of the state’s eight congressional districts
Trump told supporters at a rally that “if we win Wisconsin, it’s pretty much over,” noting his significant delegate lead over both Cruz and Kasich. Trump held the rally in Janesville, Wisconsin, hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan – who last week called for more civility in politics even as the Republican presidential race grew more personal and nasty.
Cruz, speaking at the town hall, said his focus was on winning the Republican nomination – either by getting the 1,237 delegates necessary by the end of the primary season or capturing it at the Republican National Convention in July.
“We are competing to win,” Cruz said. “We’re not competing to stop Donald Trump. … Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee. We’re going to beat him.”
While Trump dealt with questions about the Lewandowski charges, Cruz picked up support from some of the state’s most influential voices. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a former Republican presidential contender, endorsed Cruz Tuesday, saying he believes the Texas senator is best positioned to win the party’s nomination and defeat Clinton.
In an interview on Milwaukee’s WTMJ radio, Walker noted Cruz’s fights in Congress with both Republicans and Democrats. “This is a guy who has been consistent in his positions and, when push comes to shove, will stand up for the people he represents over the interests in Washington,” Walker said. – AFP/UNB