One of Donald Trump's strongest allies in Wisconsin says he doesn't think voters care "a whole lot" about comments the Republican presidential candidate has made about a former beauty pageant winner, including a set of recent tweets encouraging voters to "check out (her) sex tape."
"I don’t think it changes the viewpoint of many voters," said U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy on a call with reporters Friday morning.
Duffy said voters are focused on the economy, jobs and national security, arguing Trump's positions on those issues are resonating with voters in Wisconsin and throughout the country.
The conversation about 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado began during Monday night's debate between the two candidates, when Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that Trump had referred to Machado as "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping" and chastised her for gaining weight after winning the title. Trump owned the pageant at the time.
Early Friday morning, Trump sent a series of tweets suggesting Clinton had been "duped" by Machado and had helped her become a U.S. citizen.
One tweet called Machado "disgusting" and encouraged people to "check out sex tape and past." The sex tape comments appear to reference a Spanish reality show on which Machado and a male contestant were filmed in bed together.
Duffy, who initially backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the presidential contest, was one of few prominent Wisconsin Republicans to support Trump in the state's April primary election.
His former chief of staff, Pete Meachum, serves as Trump's state director.
Duffy on Friday celebrated tightening polls in Wisconsin that appear to show Trump gaining on Clinton's lead. Trump, in Waukesha this week, indicated he believes Wisconsin is in play despite not having voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan won the state in 1984.
The congressman acknowledged there is still "space and room" for Republicans to get on board with Trump in southeastern Wisconsin — a region that has been slow to embrace his candidacy despite being one of the most conservative pockets of the state.
Duffy said his strong support of Trump — while not unequivocal — stems from a desire to tell his eight children in the future that he did what he could to "try to help save America" and save the U.S. economy.
He presented Trump's vision as a sharp shift away from the leadership of President Barack Obama, who Duffy said has "traveled the world and apologized for American leadership."
"This is an untraditional race. You see a massive shakeup taking place across American politics," Duffy said. "You can’t make any mistake that Donald Trump has started a movement. Every network maybe but for Fox is absolutely out to destroy Mr. Trump, and they can’t do it. The papers that attack him, they can’t do it."