Johnson breaks with Trump on election result acceptance

Posted at 1:37 PM, Oct 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 14:38:25-04
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, in a break with his party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump, said through a spokesman Thursday that the results of the election should be respected.
Trump created a bipartisan uproar after refusing during Wednesday's presidential debate to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election. On Thursday, at a campaign rally in Ohio, Trump said he won't commit to honoring the outcome of the Nov. 8 election because he wants to reserve his right to file a legal challenge "in the case of a questionable result."
But Trump's two highest-ranking Republican supporters in Wisconsin -- Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker -- both distanced themselves from his position on Thursday. Neither withdrew their backing.
"Ron believes we need to respect the results on Election Day," said Johnson's spokesman Brian Reisinger.
Trump has also repeatedly said he thinks the election is rigged against him. Johnson disagreed with that during his own Senate debate earlier this week, while agreeing with Trump's charge that the media is being unfair to him.
Reisinger said Thursday that Johnson continues to disagree with Trump's unfounded charge that the election is rigged.
Johnson is in a tough re-election contest with Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold, whose spokesman Michael Tyler said Johnson didn't go far enough in rejecting Trump.
"Donald Trump is threatening to undermine America's democratic process, but again and again Sen. Johnson refuses to show the leadership or political courage to stand up to him," Tyler said in a statement. "Now is the time to be an American first, not a partisan politician desperate for re-election."
Walker said in Green Bay that Trump will have to accept the results of the election.
"The bottom line is whether he does or doesn't, there's going to be a new president," WLUK-TV reported Walker as saying.
Walker had urged other Republican candidates for president to drop out after he did so they could unite behind someone to defeat Trump. Walker has since endorsed Trump.
The governor said he's "not surprised" that Trump refused to say whether he would accept the outcome of the election.
"It's similar to what he said in the first presidential primary debate in Cleveland when he was asked about whether he would support the nominee or run as an independent. So none of that surprises me," Walker said.
No matter what Trump does "all of the other elements of government will go forward," Walker said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who earlier this month angered Trump by saying he will no longer defend or campaign with him, did not immediately respond to questions about Trump's latest comments.
Mike Gallagher, a Republican running for an open congressional seat in northeast Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District, did not immediately respond to an email sent to a campaign spokeswoman seeking reaction to Trump's comments.