Michels unsure if 2020 election was stolen, says he's focused on 2022 after winning Trump endorsement

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- After securing former President Donald Trump's endorsement, Tim Michels says he wants to put the 2020 election behind him and instead focus his energy on winning a competitive four-way primary.

Michels said the 2020 election was not discussed when he accepted the endorsement, nor did it come up during a visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

"He said, I think you are the guy who's the winner here and I like winners," Michels said when detailing his phone call with the former president on Thursday.

Not discussing the last presidential election comes as the topic has consumed the governor's race with all four Republican candidates running on election integrity platforms. Michels joins former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and State. Rep. Tim Ramthun in the GOP primary.

"A lot of people have questions about the 2020 election and so do I," Michels said. "I want to focus on the 2020 election, and I'll be sworn in in January 2023. That's not time to look back at the 2020 election. The 2024 election will be right around the corner."

When asked if he believes the election was stolen from Trump, Michels said, "we don't know," despite court rulings, audits and recounts confirming President Joe Biden's victory in Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes.

"We do know there was voter fraud," said Michels. "We don't know how much and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Trump has repeatedly made false claims the election was stolen and praised Michels, saying he would "end the well-documented fraud in our elections," in a statement Thursday.

Michels also recently joined his opponents in calling for dismantling the state's elections commission after previously saying he was in favor of replacing the six members who serve on the bipartisan commission.

Michels also dodged questions regarding whether he believed Joe Biden won, but said, "Biden is the president today."

Breaking Away from Opponents:

As the co-owner of his family's construction business, Michels said what he's accomplished in life separates him from crowded field.

He touted his military experience, serving 12 years in the U.S. Army, and helping grow a business -- a similar background of his opponent Kevin Nicholson, a Marine veteran and businessman.

"I have 8,000 employees, he's [Kevin] a consultant," Michels said. "I don't know if he's leading people at work."

All four candidates are running as outsiders. The primary will be held on Aug. 9.

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