What Race For President? Illinois Republican Leaders Tepid On Trump

Aug 17, 2016

There weren't many signs for Donald Trump at Wednesday's Governor's Day rally for Republicans at the Illinois State Fair.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Support for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump remains tepid among leaders of the Illinois Republican Party.

You would be hard-pressed to know a high-stakes battle for the presidency is approaching based on the Republican rally Wednesday at the Illinois State Fair.

Crickets chirped, the odor of manure was mercifully masked by the fragrance of barbeque, country music played, and everyone stood to sing the National Anthem.

In many ways, it was a typical, pre-election party gathering.

Except that you might have expected someone to gin up the crowd about the party's candidate for president.

Some folks were wearing Donald Trump hats. A handful waved posters.

But the party leaders on stage barely mentioned Trump.

And neither of the state legislature's top Republicans -- House GOP Leader Jim Durkin nor Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno -- would commit to voting for him.

"I'm not there yet ... I want to hear someone talk like a President and act like a President before I vote for one," Durkin said. "Everyone has the right to a private ballot. I'm not voting for Hillary," Radogno said. "I'm looking at the same thing everyone's looking at. And I'm looking at on both sides. I mean, you know, their record. Their temperament."

Gov. Bruce Rauner was cagey, too; when asked about Trump, Rauner said he's focused on Illinois.

Rauner previously said he would support any Republican nominee.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is a rare Illinois Republican who's open about his distaste for Trump.

Kirk is in a tight race, in a state thought to lean Democratic. He's said he'll write-in a candidate. Though he has wavered some on whom, Kirk Wednesday said former C-I-A Director David Petraeus would be the best Commander in Chief.