By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Feingold, Johnson speak out
Placeholder Image
MADISON (AP) - Republican Sen. Ron Johnson joined with others in his party Tuesday by distancing himself from presidential candidate Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Johnson faces a tough re-election challenge from longtime former Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat. Feingold was more aggressive in his criticism of Trump, issuing a statement Monday night on Facebook and then again going after the billionaire real estate mogul in a fundraising email Tuesday.

"Trump's hateful and prejudicial words are dangerous and have no place in this great country," Feingold said. "Muslim Americans are our neighbors, coworkers, and friends. ... Enough is enough. It's time for Democrats and Republicans alike to stand together and condemn Trump's hatred and prejudice."

Johnson commented through his campaign spokesman.

"This is not a serious or well-thought-out policy proposal," Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger said of Trump's idea to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. over security concerns. "We've always been a country with a big heart, and we don't need a religious test to fix our immigration problems."

Johnson has not endorsed anyone for president, and Reisinger said he has not changed his position that he will support whoever is chosen as the Republican nominee.

Criticism of Trump has come from the left and the right, inside the United States and abroad. Legal experts have widely panned Trump's proposal, which he first made Monday, as both unconstitutional and unworkable. Trump's rival Republican presidential candidates described Trump's remarks as out of line, un-American and dangerous.

Trump stood by his comments Tuesday, saying, "I am doing what is right." He argued that banning Muslim immigrants and visitors is warranted after attacks by Muslim extremists in Paris and last week's shooting in San Bernardino, California.

In making his case, Trump cited a poll done by the Center for Security Policy, a foreign policy think tank that's faced intense criticism as Islamophobic.

The center's leader, Frank Gaffney, has written that he believes President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and may be a Muslim. Obama was born in Hawaii and is a Christian.

Gaffney is also a top proponent of the claim that there is a global conspiracy by Muslim leaders and institutions to overthrow the U.S. government and replace the Constitution with Islamic religious law.

Johnson has appeared on Gaffney's radio show, including in September where Gaffney said he "greatly admired" Johnson.

"You can be sure it's a mutual admiration society here," Johnson replied. "I've been listening to you for a long time and learning a lot from you so certainly appreciate your efforts."

Johnson issued a statement through his spokesman when asked about Gaffney and his comments.

"I have gone on just about every radio show that invites me," Johnson said. "I don't agree 100 percent of the time with any of them. That's true here, too."

He did not say where he agrees or disagrees with Gaffney. Johnson's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for more details.