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U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski remains mum on presidential primary, but will support GOP nominee in November -- no matter who it is

Truth, The (Elkhart County, IN) - 4/6/2016

April 06--ELKHART -- U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski isn't saying whom she is supporting in the presidential election.

But it won't be a Democrat.

"Of course, I'm going to support the Republican nominee. I'm not going to vote for Hillary Clinton," the Republican congresswoman said Tuesday.

Donald Trump, the GOP presidential hopeful, has shaken up the race and irked some establishment Republicans with his controversial statements. But Walorski, who met with The Elkhart Truth's editorial board, did her best to stay out of the maelstrom when pressed.

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"The presidential (race) is going to run its course. What these folks say in the rhetoric of politics is what they choose to say," said Walorski, seeking her third term in the U.S. House this year.

She has, however, commented on at least two Trump controversies. Asked last month about about Trump's seemingly slow disavowal of the Ku Klux Klan after ex-Klan leader David Duke said Trump "deserves a look" as a candidate, she said "bigotry of any kind should not be tolerated and has no place in our society."

And on Tuesday, she offered her own thoughts on the notion of making women who get abortions criminally culpable. Trump last week said women who get abortions should face "some sort of punishment," generating an outcry, and he later backtracked from the statement.

"Women are victims; women are innocent," said Walorski, who is anti-abortion. "I'm 100 percent pro-life. Any blame should be on the abortionist."

Beyond that, Walorski has offered no direct comment on Trump the candidate.

"I've never gotten involved in presidential politics. I'm not going to get involved in presidential politics," she said. She went on, saying she has no desire to make a presidential endorsement and that she'll "make up my mind when I go to the polls." The Indiana primary is set for May 3.

Indeed, she saved her strongest language for President Barack Obama, who is finishing his second term.

The country has "suffered for eight years under a president that has let regulation completely squeeze folks out of business, completely squeezed jobs out of existence, let our nation become vulnerable to enemies that were never enemies before," she said. The nation "is upset, they're angry and they're tired of the eight years of what they've seen."

Some Republicans, however, have taken shots at Trump. For instance, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, who's not seeking re-election, has questioned his presidential fitness. Others, like Walorski, have tried to remain on the sidelines.

'WALORSKI HAS REMAINED SILENT'

Lynn Coleman, Democratic contender for the 2nd District seat now held by Walorski, has criticized Trump and pushed hard to get Walorski to go on the record about Trump.

"Hoosiers deserve to know if Jackie Walorski will support the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Instead, Jackie Walorski has remained silent, even as Trump's rhetoric climbs higher and higher on the scale of the absurd," Coleman's campaign said in a statement last week, after Trump's comments on abortion.

In the wake of Trump's comments, Coleman has also called Walorski into question based on an abortion bill she co-authored as an Indiana House member in 2006 and an abortion-related amendment she proposed to a bill in 2007. Both ultimately fizzled, but the bill would have made providing an abortion a Class C felony while the amendment would have made performing an abortion a hate crime.

"She's saying abortion is a felony and she's saying abortion is a hate crime," said Tim Wagner, Coleman's communications director. As such, under the measures, had they been approved, a woman having an abortion, even if not charged, "is involved in a hate crime" or a felony.

Walorski rebuffed the criticism.

"I don't think his point's valid," she said. She operates on the presumption that "women are innocent, abortionists aren't and that's where a lot of this legislation has gone."

When the hate crime measure was debated in 2007, she thought abortions fit with the classification.

"We're a big pro-life state," she said Tuesday. "Why would we not protect the unborn at that level as well, aimed at the abortionist, performing a procedure on vulnerable women where they make a lot of money?"

Walorski faces Jeff Petermann in the GOP primary, and Coleman faces Douglas Carpenter. The winners in each race face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.

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(c)2016 The Elkhart Truth (Elkhart, Ind).

Visit The Elkhart Truth (Elkhart, Ind). at www.elkharttruth.com

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