Conservative Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who is challenging Illinois’ incumbent Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, in the March 20 primary, criticized him Monday for breaking his promise to veto a bill to use state taxpayer funds for abortions.
The setting was the candidates’ joint interview before the Chicago Tribune editorial board — the only time the two will meet before the primary, as there are no scheduled debates.
The remarkable exchange over abortion came after Gov. Rauner was asked about his decision last year to sign the bill, HB 40, after promising to veto it. The Tribune seemed unconvinced by his response, and Ives pounced.
(The Tribune would not allow Breitbart News to excerpt its video, but allowed us to publish a link to an article that includes the video but requires a subscription. You can also see the exchange on Facebook: watch 28:01 to 31:43.)
GOVERNOR RAUNER: You know, there were a lot of politics swirling around that bill. And the simple fact is, I support a woman’s right to decide. And in the end, I had to choose to follow what I believe, or do politics. And I chose to follow what i believe.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE Governor, you keep giving us an answer — excuse me, Steve — just one second. You keep talking about this as though Kristen’s asking you an abortion question. Kristen’s asking you a character question. We’ve got all kinds of people telling us, “He told us this, he told them that.” Help us walk through that, because it is, it is really problematic. Telling different people [you’re] going to do different things. It’s s problem.
JEANNE IVES: That’s why we don’t trust him. We don’t trust him.
RAUNER: To be crystal clear; I support a woman’s right to decide.
TRIBUNE: What did you tell the Republican caucus? That’s my question.
RAUNER: Politics are swirling around this. As I’ve said —
TRIBUNE: Well, what’d you tell them?
IVES: He told us he would veto the bill.
RAUNER: I publicly said that was being evaluated as an option. I publicly said it. It wasn’t just to any caucus members. I publicly said it.
IVES: That’s right. Who lies to a Cardinal?
RAUNER: That’s outrageous. I publicly said that was being explored. And there was a lot of politics, a lot of pressure. In the end, I had to do what I believe is right, not do politics, and I signed that bill because I believe in a woman’s right to decide.
TRIBUNE: What did you tell Cardinal Cupich you were going to do to the bill?
RAUNER: As I said, I said to everyone, evaluating an amendatory veto was something that we looked at. And in the end, it wasn’t going to be about politics for me, it was going to be about doing what I believe was right, and that’s what I did.
IVES: So you’re right — this is a character issue. That’s exactly what this election’s about. It’s about character, and it’s about courage.
RAUNER: Yeah. And I was courageous to do what I believe.
IVES: It’s about who has the courage to lead. Who has the character for this job. Who’s going to stand up for the small person that’s just beaten down by Illinois and its politics. Who’s not going to give in to crony bailouts of companies like Exelon. Who’s not going to give in to all sorts of new entitlement programs when our state is broke. So even if you believed that Illinois should pay for abortions, the fact that you did it when the state is bankrupt — an open-ended entitlement program in a state that is bankrupt. Listen, it’s pretty depressing to think that Planned Parenthood just opened a brand new clinic in Flossmoor, in a community that’s 80% minority, one-half in poverty, and just miles from the Indiana border. That’s pretty depressing, you know why? There’s zero accountability in our Medicaid program. There’s zero — I’m sure we’ll be paying for girls from Indiana that come over and get Medicaid abortions in the State of Illinois. And we have no money for this brand new entitlement program. And for him, as a Republican — ‘cause this is a Republican primary discussion — for him, as a Republican, to violate the Henry Hyde amendment, the truce that’s been in place for decades after the Roe v. Wade decision, the truce that said, “Fine, abortion’s legal, but I shouldn’t have to pay for it if I’m a taxpayer” — he violated a strong tenet of our party. And then he lied about what he was going to do about it. That’s why he’s got very, very few endorsements on his side. And I’ve got more endorsements from my colleagues, and many are sitting on the fence. That’s why not a single Republican in the congressional delegation has come out to endorse this sitting governor. Because nobody trusts him, and nobody agrees with his policies.
Rauner was 44 points ahead of Ives in an early poll in the race, largely on the strength of the governor’s strong advantage in name recognition.
But that may change. Tribune columnist John Kass declared: “She turned the GOP gubernatorial primary into a real campaign. Game on. And she crushed it. She crushed it good.” And Greg Hinz Crain’s Chicago Business noted after Ives’s performance at the Tribune: “[a]n Ives win is not out of reach.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.