Ives defends TV spot

Ives defends TV spot

CHAMPAIGN —Although it has been condemned by top Illinois Republicans from party chairman Tim Schneider to Urbana attorney general candidate Erika Harold, state Rep. Jeanne Ives Saturday night defended a controversial television commercial as "telling voters which constituencies Gov. Bruce Rauner decided to side with."

Ives, a conservative state representative from Wheaton who is Rauner's only challenger in the March 20 Republican primary, is airing a bombastic commercial that includes a man dressed as a woman thanking Rauner for signing a bill that expands transgender rights. It also attacks him for supporting public funding of abortion, for signing legislation that prevents law enforcement from detaining people solely on the basis of their immigration status and for supporting a school funding bill that she contends bails out Chicago schools.

The part of the TV commercial that has generated the most controversy features a a man dressed as a woman who thanks Rauner for allowing him to use "the girls bathroom." But the bill Rauner signed allows transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificate with the authorization of a medical professional.

Schneider called the ad "shameful" and asked Ives to pull it. Harold said the spot "denigrates, mocks and marginalizes groups of Illinoisans." She said that Republicans "must be about fighting for ideals and values that have made our country the envy of the world in promoting the dignity and value of every Illinoisan."

But Ives said Saturday night in Champaign that she stands by the commercial.

"When you look at the ad, it's a policy ad. It's not a personal attack on Rauner," she said. "I don't go after his character or anything like that. It is a policy ad that in a new way takes what he has done and signed into law and puts it into a visual measure."

The issues addressed in the commercial have been touchstones of Ives' campaign that got a boost this week when she outperformed the one-term governor in a televised appearance before the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. It is likely to be the only joint appearance the two have before the primary.

"I guess the visual was necessary to raise awareness to Republican primary voters that have been asleep for a while. That's what the ad was about. We needed to still alert Republican primary voters to the policies he put in place," Ives said at what was billed as a "meet and greet" at Houlihan's restaurant in Champaign. About 50 people attended.

"Honestly, if they played this in a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch as a spoof on the worst Republican governor in America, people would laugh at it," she said.

She said she would not take down the ad, and said that Harold and the others criticizing it "are bought and sold by Gov.Rauner. Rauner is funding Erika's campaign. Rauner is funding the GOP establishment. That's all that is. This is all going to die down. You know what? People needed to see the results of his policies."

Asked how she could attract Democratic voters in a general election by attacking parts of their constituency, she said that "I have Democrats who messaged me and said they liked the ad.

"I don't know, I think that people are pretty upset overall with a lot of these policies. We're getting through the Republican primary first."

In her extemporaneous remarks, Ives said she would be the "conservative reform governor that Rauner said he would be, to actually lead the revolt against the political ruling class."

She said Rauner's "betrayal" of Republican voters began with his support two years ago of an Exelon Corp. "crony bailout" that kept two downstate nuclear power plants but "gave a subsidy to on the backs of ratepayers despite the fact the we export our energy."

Ives belittled Rauner for saying last year that he's not in charge of the state but that House Speaker Michael Madigan is.

"Look, I'm telling you right now. If the general is on the battlefield and he says he's not in charge, you'd better watch out because you're not going to be taken care of," said Ives, a graduate of West Point. "You might as well surrender right then."

She said she was willing to go into Champaign-Urbana — into what she called "the belly of the beast" — and say that "we're going to tell higher ed that you either bring your tuition and fees in line with your conference peers or we're going to bring your state spending in line with your conference peers. We're No. 3 in terms of state support for higher education. It's just that one-half of it goes to pensions.

"But the truth is that higher education in Illinois is unaffordable and it's forcing our best students and our middle-class families to choose another place. That is wrong. We're going to reverse that trend."

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JennyGee wrote on February 05, 2018 at 8:02 pm

The ad is appalling. Saying it does not attack Rauner's character is no defense. The spot attacked large segments of the population on the basis of their identity. Defending it shows how out of touch this candidate truly is.