Republican lawmaker says he wanted to punch GOP leader
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Republican state lawmaker and candidate for governor said he wanted to punch Assembly Speaker Robin Vos “right in the nose” after he kicked him out of a meeting about decertifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Wisconsin.
Rep. Timothy Ramthun said in an online interview posted on YouTube on Wednesday that he was angry with Vos after the speaker did not allow him in the closed-door meeting that day. Ramthun has unsuccessfully tried to decertify Biden’s win, a move Vos opposes.
“It was the perfect opportunity to punch him right in the nose and say go pound sand, but I was concerned about the collateral damage,” Ramthun said after Vos kicked him out of the meeting. “There’s only one way to treat a bully and that’s to punch him right back in the nose but in this case I couldn’t take the chance because he could have just ended it and say, ‘Fine I’m outta here’ and left. And then it would have been on me.”
Ramthun said in a text message Thursday that he didn’t actually want to punch Vos.
“I am not a violent person,” Ramthun texted. “I referenced nose punch in describing how most, if not all bullies, should be treated. It’s a common phrase, isn’t it?”
Former President Donald Trump also expressed frustration with Vos on Thursday, after Vos said he believed there was widespread fraud in Wisconsin but he was against decertifying the election.
“Speaker Vos should do the right thing and correct the Crime of the Century—immediately!” Trump said in a statement. “It is my opinion that other states will be doing this, Wisconsin should lead the way!”
Biden defeated Trump by just under 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has withstood multiple lawsuits, recounts and reviews by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. None of those reviews found evidence of widespread fraud.
Statewide, 24 people have been charged with voter fraud, a miniscule percentage of the nearly 3.3 million people who cast ballots that is on par with past elections.
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat up for reelection, said Thursday at a WisPolitics.com luncheon that it was “repugnant” for Vos to claim there was widespread fraud when there isn’t evidence to back it up.
“When he’s getting all this crap from other people, he’s saying ‘There was widespread fraud and, by golly, I’d love to do something about that but I can’t,’” Evers said. “That’s not leadership. ... I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I think this is one of the dumbest things he’s ever said.”
Evers, again, called for Vos to end the questioning of the election results. Vos this month extended the investigation he ordered that’s being led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who has made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud.
One of Gableman’s allegations in his report — that 100% of nursing home residents in Milwaukee and Dane counties voted — has been debunked by the city of Milwaukee election commissioner, the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission and a review of voter data by the Wisconsin State Journal. Gableman did not provide any details in his report to back up his claim.
Vos called the meeting Wednesday to discuss the legalities of decertifying the election with attorneys and advocates who support it and those who say it’s illegal.
After the meeting, Vos said he remained opposed to decertifying Biden’s win. He has clashed with Ramthun before, taking away his only full-time staff member earlier this year after alleging that Ramthun falsely accused Vos of signing a deal with attorneys for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton to authorize absentee ballot drop boxes.
Vos reacted Thursday to Ramthun’s comments about wanting to punch him, saying in a statement that “Rep. Ramthun says a lot of foolish things, this is one more on the list.”
Ramthun is one of several Republican candidates running for governor, including former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and businessman Kevin Nicholson. They are seeking to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this report.