Portman says he will still back Trump

Ohio GOP senator wants him to retract statement about judge.

Sen. Rob Portman wants Donald Trump to retract his comments on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, but said he still will support the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Portman said Trump’s comments were “wrong” and that “it’s wrong to say someone can’t do his or her job because of his heritage.”

Curiel, who is overseeing two class-action lawsuits against Trump University, has been on the receiving end of a series of harsh attacks from Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump has said he believes Curiel is “Mexican” and biased against him.

Curiel was born in Indiana.

“He is as American as you and me,” Portman said.

But Portman — who spoke to reporters just minutes after fellow Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois rescinded his endorsement of Trump — refused to back away from Trump.

“I intend to support that Republican nominee,” he said. “I said that because you need to listen to voters.”

Portman, who is locked in a tight re-election bid against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, was also asked if Trump’s controversial statements outweigh his positions on issues. Portman said he supports Trump’s support for rebuilding the military and believes Trump is the better option for “getting the country back on track in terms of economic growth.”

“I think it’s appropriate to support the Republican nominee,” he said. “The people have made his choice clear.”