SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Republican gubernatorial candidates took turns attacking-front runner Bruce Rauner in Springfield Tuesday night, in the second of five scheduled full field GOP debates.
CBS 2 Correspondent Jay Levine was there to keep score and there were no clear winners or losers from the debate, and that’s probably a victory for Bruce Rauner, who has a 20 point lead heading into the campaign’s final month.
There were few personal attacks, though Dan Rutherford described the underlying tone of the campaign as brutal.
“I see in Illinois now the worst blood sport I’ve ever seen. This is not easy to stand up and run,” said Rutherford.
Especially after former top aide Ed Michalowski filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Rutherford, who first promised, then refused, to release a taxpayer funded report on the charges. Tuesday night, Rutherford seemed to be having second thoughts about his decision.
“I’m working It through, I’m trying to get it out there,” said Rutherford.
Later Rutherford, who pulled all his remaining TV ads, admitted withholding the report on advice of counsel was damaging.
“I will say that our candidacy has a challenge and I understand that. I would be better off, I believe, if this report was released,” said Rutherford.
“I feel sorry for Dan Rutherford. He is a friend of mine, but I didn’t put him on the front page of all of the papers,” said Dillard.
It was Dillard who attacked the others as well, especially Rauner.
“I’ll give Mr. Rauner a pass tonight on pay-to-play, on Stuart Levine getting paid a million dollars, the mastermind of the Blagojevich corruption ring, and he getting 50 million back from a board that Mr. Levine sat on, you touched him clouting his kid into Walter Payton High School in Chicago,” said Dillard.
“It speaks to the real question that he’s got to overcome in this election, how do we know we can trust Bruce Rauner,” said Brady.
Rahner, who left immediately after shaking hands with his opponents at the end of the debate, did not mention any of them, telling Jay Levine earlier he’d stick to the script which has put him ahead.
“This is about demonstrating what we are going to do when we win,” said Rahner.