Walker distances himself from pledge to support GOP nominee

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Walker hedges on Trump

Donald Trump's refusal to back down from controversial comments about a federal judge's "Mexican heritage" is increasingly costing him support within the Republican Party.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who ended a brief bid for the GOP presidential nomination in September, distanced himself on Wednesday from his pledge last fall to support the Republican nominee and called on Trump to renounce his remarks.

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"It's just sad in America we have such poor choices right now," Walker told WKOW-TV in Madison.

Trump has been under fire for his sustained attacks on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a fraud lawsuit against Trump University in California. The former reality television star has said Curiel's Latino heritage – the judge was born in Indiana to parents who moved legally to the U.S. from Mexico – makes him biased because Trump has proposed building a wall along the southern U.S. border.

Walker said he holds out hope the billionaire businessman will moderate his rhetoric and apologize for his comments about Curiel.

"He's not yet the nominee. Officially, that won't happen until the middle of July, and so for me that's kind of the time frame that, in particular, I want to make sure he renounces what he says – at least in regards to this judge," he said.

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Walker distances himself from pledge to support GOP nominee
WAUKESHA, WI - JULY 13: Workers put up a sign outside of the Waukesha County Expo Center before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announces that he will seek the Republican nomination for president on July 13, 2015 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Walker is the 15th candidate to formally announce intentions to seek the Republican nomination. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 02: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and possible Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak during the event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 02: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and possible Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak during the event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21: Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during the 2015 Southern Republican Leadership Conference May 21, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. About a dozen possible presidential candidates will join the conference and lobby for supports from Republican voters. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WEST DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (L) and his wife Tonette listen to a speaker at Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart's annual Blue Jean Bash on May 16, 2015 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Several Republican presidential hopefuls are attending events in the state this weekend. Hillary Clinton, who hopes to become the Democrats choice, is expected in Iowa for events on Monday and Tuesday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker walks off stage after speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on February 26, 2015. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
CONCORD, NH - MARCH 14: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during a grassroots training and rally event at Concord High School March 14, 2015 in Concord, New Hampshire. Governor Walker is on a two day trip to New Hampshire as he eyes a run for president. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum January 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the week Walker announced the formation of 'Our American Revival', a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 4: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker greets supporters at his election night party November 4, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. Walker defeated Democratic challenger Mary Burke. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
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Walker is in good company, joining even some of Trump's supporters in condemning the rhetoric, which House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called "the textbook definition of a racist comment."

On Wednesday, Trump said he was "disappointed and surprised" by criticism from Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"I had just won more votes than anyone in the history of the party, so I was a little bit surprised when they said that," Trump told Time Magazine. "I didn't think it was necessary. But, you know, they have to say what they have to say. I'm a big boy. They have to say what they have to say."

RELATED: Protesters clash with Trump supporters in San Jose, Calif.

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Walker distances himself from pledge to support GOP nominee
Victor Cristobal (C), of San Jose, chants during a demonstration outside a campaign rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump covers his ears as he walks past a demonstrator outside a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts after she was surrounded and egged by demonstrators after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Demonstrators chant around a car during a demonstration against Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump after his campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A demonstrator burns a hat in protest of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump outside a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter (C) of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump collides with another man after he was confronted by demonstrators outside a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A police officer gestures to a supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump after he was harassed by demonstrators at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A demonstrator (L) flips the hat off a supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump runs after being confronted by demonstrators after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts after she was surrounded and egged by demonstrators after a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A supporter for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) exchange words with a demonstrator during a campaign rally in San Jose, California, U.S. June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Protesters hold up signs against a police skirmish line near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in San Jose, California on June 02, 2016. Protesters attacked Trump supporters as they left the rally, burned an american flag, trump paraphernalia and scuffled with police and each other. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate outside the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters attack a Trump supporter (C) as he tries to leave a parking garage at the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters confront Trump supporters as they try to leave a parking garage at the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Police move in to disperse anti-Trump protesters as they demonstrate outside the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Trump protesters demonstrate outside the convention center where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held an election rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A youth (C) wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt runs as he is chased by protesters near the venue where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking during a rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters climb atop a car stopped in traffic as a crowd marches near the venue where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking during a rally in San Jose, California on June 2, 2016. Protesters who oppose Donald Trump scuffled with his supporters on June 2 as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a rally in California, with fistfights erupting and one supporter hit with an egg. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wearing a Trump shirt (C) is pelted with eggs by protesters while pinned against a door near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a rally in San Jose, California on June 02, 2016. Protesters attacked Trump supporters as they left the rally, burned an american flag, trump paraphernalia and scuffled with police and each other. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A Trump hat burns during a protest near where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally in San Jose, California on June 02, 2016. Protesters attacked trump supporters as they left the rally, burned an american flag, Trump paraphernalia and scuffled with police and each other. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump has refused to back down or otherwise apologize for his comments, saying it was "unfortunate" his words had been "misconstrued."

On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, a Republican who is facing a difficult re-election in a state that has reliably supported Democrats in presidential election years, said the Curiel remarks went too far.

"I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world," Kirk said, adding he "cannot and will not support my party's nominee for president regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party."

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt urged the Republican National Committee to change the convention rules to stop Trump or "get killed" in November.

"And if Donald Trump pulls over a makeover in the next four to five weeks, great, they can keep him," Hewitt said on his show Wednesday morning. "It would be better if he had done so five weeks ago, but it was – it's awful and it ended bad last night."

Accepting Trump because presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is worse, Hewitt said, is "like ignoring Stage IV cancer. You can't do it, you've got to go attack it."

"Right now the Republican Party is facing – the plane is headed towards the mountain after the last 72 hours," he said.

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