Paul Ryan booed at rally without Trump and Pence

ELKHORN, Wis. — It was supposed to be a triumphant Republican Party unification event to push Donald Trump into the closing stretch of the national campaign.

Instead, Saturday's 1st Congressional District Fall Fest showed evidence of a divide between the supporters of the presidential candidate and party members who denounced him after a raunchy tape of comments he made about women emerged.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers at the rally in his Wisconsin congressional district.

Ryan began his comments Saturday by saying "there is a bit of an elephant in the room," referring to the profane comments made by GOP nominee Donald Trump that came to light Friday.

Ryan did not mention Trump by name but said, "it is a troubling situation. It is."

But Ryan says he put out a statement Friday about Trump's comments and "that is not what we are here to talk about today."

Ryan said Friday he was "sickened" by Trump's comments. He also disinvited him from Saturday's rally.

Trump supporters yelled "Donald Trump!" at Ryan throughout his speech, while most of the crowd cheered the speaker's comments. He spoke for just seven minutes, leaving to shouts of "Shame on you!" and smattering of boos.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential candidate, dropped plans to attend the event at the Walworth County Fairgrounds.

In a statement released Saturday through Twitter, Pence said he was "offended by the words and actions" from the Trump video that surfaced Friday.

"I do not condone his remarks and I cannot defend them," Pence said. "I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people."

Pence's exit from Fall Fest is just the latest fallout to hit the Republican Party in the wake of the Washington Post and other news media outlets on Friday publishing reports of Trump making crude comments in a 2005 video about groping and sexually harassing women.

Trump was forced to drop plans to attend Fall Fest amid criticism from Ryan.

Ryan, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., headlined the event that brings together local party activists as well as voters still pondering their decisions.

In an interview, Attorney General Brad Schimel called Trump's comments "indefensible."

"He's going to have to apologize and get to work and focus on real issues here," he said. "I don't know if he can leave that behind."

Undecided voter and Madison resident Adam Kiepert came to the fairgrounds with his uncle and hoped that Trump's speech would help him choose between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. He hadn't yet heard of Pence's expected absence, and jokingly asked if Ryan was still coming.

"We're disappointed, but it will still be interesting to hear Paul Ryan speak," said Kiepert, 27. "I wanted to hear (Trump) address the tape that came out. I never know what to expect from him."

Kiepert's uncle, Al, added that Trump's absence "didn't really surprise me a lot," noting Trump's presence wasn't widely publicized by the campaign.

"Him and Ryan don't really get along. Ryan's not a big supporter of Trump, and Trump has a big debate coming up," said Al Kiepert, 61.

Williams Bay residents George and Kathryn Tenyer wanted to hear Trump and Pence address their plans for the economy and the U.S. Supreme Court. The couple has traveled to Trump's other appearances in Wisconsin and decided they will likely vote for Trump, with one caveat.

"I want to see what dirt still shows up," George Tenyer, 86, said. "(The tape) is old, and everybody has a past. I still want to see what has been dug up on Clinton."

Contributing: Tom Daykin, the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


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