Rauner steps back from Trump praise, but Pritzker pounces

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President Donald Trump, left, speaks after a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, on Monday. / AFP PHOTO / Yuri KADOBNOVYURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images; Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Thompson Center in Chicagoon Monday. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times.

Just days after a rare utterance of President Donald Trump’s name, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday was back to trying to avoid discussing the president altogether.

The Republican governor has consistently tried to remain neutral on the matter of Trump, even going so far as to avoid saying Trump’s name. But Rauner dropped the “T-word” at a Friday pro-Trump rally in Rosemont, standing beside Vice President Mike Pence.

“Mike Pence did it for the Hoosiers, and now Mike Pence along with President Trump are doing it for every American right now,” Rauner said at the event.

Rauner backed up his praise for Pence on Monday, but wouldn’t answer whether his approval of Pence implied a pro-Trump stance. When asked directly whether he supported Trump, Rauner said he’s “supportive of many things,” such as tax cuts and rollback of regulations, but he opposed the way the administration handled the Charlottesville violence or the separation of children at the border.

Rauner’s evasiveness drew ire from Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker at a Women’s Rights and Resistance lunch Pritzker hosted Monday. During his speech at the event, Pritzker accused Rauner of supporting Trump’s “dangerous” agenda.

“Donald Trump is implementing a misogynistic and racist agenda,” Pritzker said. “Bruce Rauner supports that agenda, sometimes explicitly and sometimes by his silence.”

Pritzker echoed the earlier remarks of state senator and Democratic candidate for attorney general Kwame Raoul, urging Rauner to sign legislation that would end Illinois’ participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, saying the bill would ensure that “every vote will count.”

But Rauner indicated he was likely to veto that bill, saying he doesn’t “see any reason we should get out of that as a state.”

His statement comes after the Illinois State Board of Elections said it was “very likely” the state was the target of a hack of voter data referred to in an indictment of Russian intelligence officers.

“Amid growing concern over the integrity of our election process, Crosscheck is simply too great a risk for Illinois. With President Trump unwilling to safeguard voter privacy and members of his inner circle under investigation, we are duty-bound to protect our own voters and their data,” Raoul said at a morning press conference.

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