Comments about insurrection prompting calls to retire by some in Wisconsin GOP, raise hopes for Democrats.
MARY ELLEN LAPORTE: I believe that he is a racist.
- In Milwaukee, Democrats like Mary Ellen Laporte are eager to be rid of Senator Ron Johnson.
MARY ELLEN LAPORTE: He comes up with conspiracy theories that don't make any sense. And they aren't who we are.
- The Republican Senator hasn't announced if he'll run for reelection next year in Wisconsin. But he has drawn national backlash for his conspiratorial and racially-loaded claims, saying this about the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on January 6.
RON JOHNSON: Now, had the tables been turned-- Joe, this could get me in trouble. Had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.
- His remarks widely considered racist, a charge Johnson denies.
RON JOHNSON: There were no racial undertones in my comments.
- All of this comes after Johnson also promoted conspiracy theories about who actually led the mob.
RON JOHNSON: A very few didn't share the jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor of the great majority. Some obviously didn't fit in. And he describes four different types of people, plainclothes militants, agents provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and then disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. I think these are the people that probably planned this.
- There's no evidence of that. Democrat Michael Migliaccio says spreading these falsehoods is breeding divisiveness.
MICHAEL MIGLIACCIO: It was a complete malarkey. It was fabricated. It was a lie what he said.
Find out what went wrong that day. Fix the situation so that it never happens again.
- But in Milwaukee's more conservative suburbs, some are still supportive of Johnson.
- I like his policies. I like what he stands for.
- Even if they don't stand by his latest comments about January 6.
- That seems a little radical.
- Others say surely the Senator has the facts to back up his claims.
MICHAEL SCHAFER: I have not heard his specific comments. But I'm sure whatever they were, they're probably appropriate for his observations of what actually transpired on January 6.
- That kind of blind faith worries some longtime Republicans, like Right Wisconsin editor James Wigderson.
JAMES WIGDERSON: He is still seeing himself as a leader of a Republican Party in Wisconsin that supports him and believes in him. And he doesn't see the damage that he's doing.
- Wigderson says Johnson certainly has a base of support in Wisconsin. But plenty of other Republicans are ready to see him retire.
JAMES WIGDERSON: I'm getting emails from people that were longtime Republicans that are saying, what the heck happened to Ron Johnson? And what is going on with our Republican Party?