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Nevada governor backs off Trump support

Posted at 1:45 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 23:48:35-04

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is backing off his support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and says he's no longer sure he'll vote for him in November.

Sandoval, also a Republican, said in a statement Tuesday that he has major concerns with Trump's "escalating tone and rhetoric" after the candidate alleged that a Hispanic judge was biased against him.

"I will not defend the indefensible," Sandoval said in a statement. "I have already said I do not agree with Mr. Trump on every issue and I have major concerns with his escalating tone and rhetoric. I support the Republican Party and will continue to help elect strong Republican leaders in Nevada but at this time I cannot say I will definitely vote for Mr. Trump."

Several Republican leaders including Sandoval and Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk have sharply criticized Trump and withdrawn their support for the candidate following comments Trump made regarding U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University.

In a CNN interview, Trump said he was being treated unfairly in the case and suggested Curiel was biased against him because of the candidate's well-known plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.

"This judge is of Mexican heritage," Trump said of the Indiana-born Curiel. "I'm building a wall."

Sandoval cautiously endorsed Trump in May, saying he didn't agree with him on every issue but that the Democratic nominee was "simply not an option."

Trump said Tuesday that his comments were "misconstrued" and he was concerned with his ability to receive a fair trial in the Trump University case because of his status as the nominee of a major political party.

Sandoval previously endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich in April, and supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during Nevada's February presidential caucuses.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid also weighed in on the controversy.

"The Republican leaders said that racism is the lesser of two evils, but the other evil is Secretary Clinton," he said. "How outrageous."

Politifact producer Riley Snyder sat down with 13 Action News anchor Steve Wolford to talk about Sandoval's comments Tuesday. Watch the interview below.