House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rescinded an invitation to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to the First Congressional District Fall Festival in Madison today. It would have been Ryan’s first appearance with Donald Trump. T
 
he flap came in the wake of controversy over the release of a 2005 tape obtained by the Washington Post showing Trump speaking graphicly about kissing and groping women. Trump apologized, and wife Melania has asked Americans to accept his apology for what she said are “unacceptable” remarks.
Vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana was supposed to replace Trump, but in a surprise move also dropped out. In a Twitter statement, Pence condemned Trump’s remarks about women but showed no sign of dropping out from the ticket. Other Republicans, including elected officials, are calling for Trump to step out of the race. 
 
Ryan, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson were among the Republicans who issued sharply worded condemnations of Trump’s remarks. However, during the rally in Wisconsin today, they made little mention of the leaked tape. Ryan was the only one to even mention Trump. When he took the stage as the crowd alternated between boos and cheers, he said that there is “an elephant in the room.” Ryan said, “It’s a troubling situation. I’m serious,” adding, “I stand by what I said [in the statement]. … But that’s not why we’re here.”
 
Trump supporters heckled Ryan throughout his appearance and accused him of betraying the Republican party. He spoke about what House Republicans’ “Better Way” agenda. He acknowledged that Wisconsin will “need to deliver its 10 electoral votes” in the presidential race.
 
Walker and Johnson did not mention Trump or the presidential election. Walker focused on state-level issues and Johnson focused on down ballot-races, including his tight reelection race against Democrat Russ Feingold.
Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner did not directly mention the Trump issue, but did respond to a heckler in the crowd who accused Ryan of being a supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Listen to me, please!” Sensenbrenner responded and added, “Be respectful, we need more of that. … Clean up your act.”
 
There were plenty of women on the scene wearing “Make America Great Again” red caps, as well as t-shirts touting Trump. Reporters on the scene spoke to numerous Republican who, while repudiating Trump’s crude remarks, will vote for him next month.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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