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Roskam, Rubio tout civility in House race — even as Roskam attacks rival Casten

Minutes after U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam unveiled a video attacking Democratic opponent Sean Casten — and with another negative ad against his rival getting heavy broadcast play — Roskam still declared to reporters Monday that “civility is on the ballot on Nov. 6.”

Roskam, R-Ill., appeared with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in Downers Grove, after the former 2016 presidential primary candidate headlined a fundraiser for Roskam in Oak Brook. It was a rare news conference for Roskam, who does not disclose campaign events in advance.

The battle for the 6th Congressional District, anchored in the western and northwestern suburbs, is winding up with Roskam and Casten making gut punches. The stakes are high in this contest, with Democrats looking to flip 23 Republican seats to win control of the House. Roskam’s seat is a major target.

Voters in the district, Roskam said, want a House member who “does not add rhetorical gasoline onto an already fairly incendiary public debate.”

Roskam nevertheless unveiled a digital spot of more than two minutes in length headlined, “Casten’s extreme affiliations.” The ad focuses on positive comments Casten made about Dan Savage, a gay activist and sex advice columnist.

For his part, Casten started running a digital ad hitting Roskam for voting to weaken the independent and non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics, which opened an investigation into a 2011 trip to Taiwan Roskam took with his wife, Elizabeth. The $25,652 cost was paid for by the Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

The House Ethics Committee also investigated, but concluded in 2013 there was “insufficient evidence” that taking the free trip to Taiwan was improper.

Rubio, who was also in the area to headline fundraisers for Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., who chaired his 2016 Illinois presidential campaign, said, “We have had periods of time in America of intense debate and discussion in the past. We are by no means living at the worst moment in American history, but we’re living in a difficult moment.

“And we have real problems that need to be solved. And we need more people in our process that are there to solve problems, and are willing to work with people with different ideas in order to find solutions to important issues. And Peter represents that.”


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Roskam followed Rubio, saying, “Civility is on the ballot on Nov. 6. And this campaign is a referendum for how we’re going to treat one another in public life.”

Neither Republican mentioned President Donald Trump, who offers up a steady stream of divisive and heated remarks and tweets.

Roskam’s campaign is also running a TV ad in the Chicago area linking Casten with Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, who is also the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Illinois Republicans, from Gov. Bruce Rauner on down, are invoking Madigan’s name in hopes that voters will support Republicans in order to punish the powerful Madigan.

A Roskam spot calls Casten and Madigan “shady Illinois politicians.”

With the nation reeling from the shooting massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Casten ripped Rubio’s support from the National Rifle Association.

“It’s honestly galling that Peter Roskam is taking the time to fundraise with the NRA’s sixth highest beneficiary in the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio, but he was unwilling to meet with survivors of the Parkland shooting when they came to the Sixth District last month to hold a town hall,” he said.

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