WATERTOWN, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday he agrees that delegates to the Republican national convention should be free to vote their conscience, even if that means not supporting presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
Walker is a former presidential candidate and a delegate to the convention next month. He told reporters following a groundbreaking at a sausage factory that he will follow Wisconsin Republican Party rules and cast his ballot for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the first round because Cruz won the state primary.
But he also left open the possibility that the rules could change between now and the convention next month, and gave credence to House Speaker Paul Ryan's comments from last week that delegates should vote their conscience.
"I think his comments are legitimate," Walker said. "I think historically, not just this year, delegates are and should be able to vote the way they see fit. ... We'll see how things go between now and the convention as to what the next steps are. I'm not going to speculate now only because you all know the situation may change by this afternoon, let alone between now and the convention."
Under Wisconsin rules, at-large delegates like Walker are bound to vote for whichever candidate won statewide. Cruz beat Trump by 13 points on April 5, the billionaire's last defeat before becoming the presumptive nominee. Delegates can switch their votes to another candidate only if they are released or the candidate fails to get 30 percent of the vote in any round at the convention.
Walker backed Cruz in the primary, then endorsed Trump when he became the presumptive nominee. But he wavered in his backing since Trump questioned the ability of a judge to be fair in a lawsuit involving Trump University because of the judge's Mexican heritage. Walker said he wanted Trump to rescind those comments and "I still haven't heard those clarified."
Even as Walker wavers, the top Republican in the Wisconsin state Senate repeated his call Tuesday for the GOP to get behind Trump. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said attempts to abandon Trump for some other alternative "is just not going to work." Doing that would hurt other Republicans on the ballot, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
By Scott Bauer, The Associated Press