- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - From one of the biggest fans of Donald Trump to a former Trump rival who only recently offered a full-throated endorsement, the five Republicans from Wisconsin slated to speak at the party’s national convention next week vary in their support of the presumptive presidential nominee.

Gov. Scott Walker ran against Trump, urged others to unite against him and campaigned in Wisconsin’s primary for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But now Walker says he’s urging a vote for Trump to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed the businessman last month after weeks of wooing, but has also been outspoken against his more inflammatory comments and indicated his speech will focus on Republican priorities.

Others from Wisconsin with speaking slots in Cleveland announced Thursday are U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, whose northern Wisconsin district is one of two Trump won in the state primary, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Priebus has urged delegates to unify behind Trump, rejecting any movement to stop Trump from getting the nomination.

Clarke and Duffy are among Trump’s most outspoken supporters in Wisconsin. Duffy’s former chief of staff is Trump’s state director for Wisconsin. And Clarke, a darling of conservative media whose tone and positions on certain issues is frequently compared with Trump’s, has been one of the billionaire businessman’s most vocal supporters in Wisconsin.

State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who is one of the state’s 42 Republican delegates, said by the end of next week it will be clear to him and other conservatives that Trump is the best choice; Vos has yet to endorse him.

“The case they need to present is why a Donald Trump victory is necessary to enact the reforms we need and are required to get our country back on track,” Vos said of those with speaking slots.

Both Walker and Ryan have been conflicted. Ryan repeated his opposition to Trump’s positions Tuesday in a town hall meeting broadcast on CNN on deporting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and banning Muslims from entering the country.

Ryan and Walker also have indicated that their convention speeches may be more about stopping Clinton and advancing Republican priorities than backing Trump.

“Governor Walker looks forward to contrasting the Republican Party’s bold reforms and positive vision for the future with the scandal-ridden Clinton machine, which represents the failed status quote in Washington,” Walker campaign spokesman Joe Fadness said in a statement.

Ryan said Thursday he hadn’t started thinking about his speech yet.

“Haven’t given a lot of consideration to what it’s going to be,” the Janesville native said at a news conference in Washington. “What I want to talk about is our ideas. I want to talk about the ‘Better Way,’ what we’re offering and how we need to unify as a party.”

There were also signs that the state’s strong anti-Trump conservative movement that helped fuel his defeat in the April primary is cracking. Conservative talk radio show host Mark Belling, who with five other influential radio hosts blasted Trump for months, explained in a letter published Wednesday that despite having referred to Trump as a “clown” and a “buffoon,” he had to vote for him to stop Clinton, whom he branded as a liar without conscience.

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Associated Press writer Erica Werner in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer


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