An Evanston Democrat leading a new super PAC said Tuesday that the timing of the group’s first TV ad, which tries to link Gov. Bruce Rauner to Donald Trump, is “coincidental” but “good.”
The $1.03 million ad — which began airing on Tuesday on Chicago broadcast and cable, as well as online — comes as prominent Republicans have dropped support for Trump amid a leaked recording from 2005 in which he can be heard making lewd comments about women.
The ad was launched by Leading Illinois for Tomorrow, a new federal political action committee, which is chaired by State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston. The group says it’s running ads to “counter an onslaught of campaign spending” by Rauner and his allies. LIFT donors haven’t yet been disclosed.
The ad features Rauner in a split-screen with Trump as the Republican presidential nominee criticizes women, the disabled and immigrants. After each comment, Rauner is seen separately saying, “I will support the Republican Party’s nominee.”
That comment was made in March. Since then, Rauner has repeatedly spoken out about Trump’s rhetoric, and skipped the Republican National Committee. But Rauner, the head of the Illinois Republican Party, hasn’t said he won’t vote for him.
That’s because he doesn’t want to alienate Republicans throughout the state who are voting in targeted legislative races — races in which Rauner has contributed millions in an effort to gain Republican seats in the Illinois Senate and House.
“If Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Republicans support Donald Trump after all that, why should we support them? Say no to Trump Rauner Republicans,” the narrator says at the conclusion of the ad.
“There’s no question that the timing is good,” Biss said on Tuesday.
“This ad is the first one that went up and it went up on Tuesday morning after an extraordinary weekend that the nation underwent,” Biss said. “Part of that is coincidental, but part of that is of course that we wanted to make sure that we were communicating the message that we think is important to the voters.”
Biss said the super PAC will try to show that the “broad general message” Republicans are sending to vote Republican up and down the ticket this election cycle is “completely unfair and inaccurate.”
“We think it’s important for the voters to hear our point of view,” Biss said.
The Illinois Republican Party on Tuesday said the PAC’s effort to try to link Rauner to Trump is just a form of distraction.
“It’s no surprise that Illinois Democrats are desperately trying to make the state elections about anything other than their failed record of higher taxes, broken budgets and insider deals under [Illinois House Speaker] Mike Madigan. Voters won’t be fooled,” Illinois GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said.
Meanwhile, Rauner on Tuesday spoke about his support for immigrants at a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Chicago, standing next to Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, the state’s first Latina lieutenant governor.
Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and ends on Oct. 15. Although’s Rauner’s pro-immigration comments seemed to show a contrast to the ad, a Rauner aide said the event had been planned before the ad was released.
Rauner called America “the greatest nation on earth because we are a nation of immigrants.”
“I am very pro-immigration, very pro comprehensive immigration reform, and today we celebrate all that is wonderful about our Hispanic heritage here in Illinois,” the governor said.
Rauner again reiterated that he’s not making an endorsement in the presidential race.
“I’m staying out of the presidential race,” Rauner said. “I am appalled by the rhetoric, the statements, the recent statements in that tape just go beyond anything remotely reasonable.”
“Really, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment any more. I’m focused on making Illinois strong and healthy. And to be crystal clear, I am not endorsing in the race and I am appalled by the rhetoric,” the governor said.
Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Rodney Davis have been among the state’s loudest Republican Trump critics. Kirk denounced Trump in June. Davis has called for Trump to drop out of the race.