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Donald Trump and Scott Walker

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker listens during the first Republican presidential debate last week.

Gov. Scott Walker on Monday criticized Donald Trump's insurgent presidential campaign in some of his strongest terms yet, likening it to a "car accident."

But at the same time -- in a nod to Trump's surprising appeal to many fellow Republicans -- Walker co-opted a key part of Trump's message.

Walker spoke during an interview with Fox News Monday morning. He was asked about a recent declaration by a Republican presidential rival, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, that he won't comment on everything Trump says. 

Walker responded that Rubio is right to take that approach to Trump, who tops recent polls of Republican presidential contenders. 

"It's like watching a car accident instead of focusing on the direction we should be headed. That's a sideshow out there," Walker said of Trump's campaign. "I want to be talking about how we make this country great again."

"Make America Great Again!" has been a Trump campaign mantra and is featured prominently at his website. The controversial tycoon frequently has been spotted wearing a hat emblazoned with the phrase.

Walker also criticized Trump for his personal attacks on Fox News host Megyn Kelly, one of the moderators at the first presidential debate last week.

Trump was pressed by Kelly during the debate about his many previous demeaning references to women. Trump told CNN Friday that Kelly, during the debate, had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."

Walker said Monday that Trump was out of line. He said Republican presidential candidates instead should focus on the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.

"The language that (Trump) is using is absolutely inappropriate," Walker said.


Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.