GREEN BAY -- Several Republican lawmakers steered clear of mentioning Donald Trump's name at this weekend's GOP state convention, but U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he "sympathizes" with his party's presumptive presidential nominee.
The convention unanimously endorsed Johnson's re-election bid, and much of Saturday's schedule focused on his efforts. Yet the presidential race has become a key issue in Johnson's campaign against Democrat Russ Feingold, one of a few races that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.
In an interview with FOX6 News, Johnson said Trump needed some time to learn complex policy issues. He offered to provide his own insights to the businessman.
"I`m sympathetic to anyone coming from the business world, the private sector, entering the political realm and not having every answer to every question, every policy answer," said Johnson, who ran an Oshkosh plastics company before running for office.
Johnson's opponent, Russ Feingold, sidestepped when asked if he sympathizes with his party's likely nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Feingold instead said it was irresponsible for Johnson to support Trump.
"I'm very comfortable with both of the people who are running on the Democratic side. I've worked with them, know who they are. They are serious about the issues, and unlike Mr. Trump, they're well informed on the issues," Feingold said.
Republicans control the U.S. Senate but have more incumbents up for re-election this year, giving Democrats hope of retaking control of the chamber.
Johnson indicated that his race was not tied to presidential politics. He said he could win re-election even if Trump loses in Wisconsin, where he was soundly defeated in the April 5 presidential primary.
"Absolutely. I actually feel pretty good about it," Johnson said. "When we talk to undecided Democrat and independent voters, they first of all understand exactly who Russ Feingold is."
Johnson beat Feingold in 2010, leading to this year's rematch. During his Saturday convention speech, Johnson painted Feingold as a man desperate to get his job back.
"I don't know what he's talking about," Feingold responded Sunday in Racine. "He wants to make this a personal kind of race. I don't. I want to talk about the issues."
Democrats are holding their annual state convention June 3-4 in Green Bay.