The head of Illinois’ Republican Party said Tuesday he would like to see Donald Trump criticize Hillary Clinton more at the next presidential debate.
Tim Schneider told a politically-friendly crowd at the City Club of Chicago that the Republican candidate spent too much time reacting to Clinton during Monday’s debate.
“Donald Trump, he can be rude. He can be rude. He can be off-base on some things.” Schneider said. “To me, it’s an easy choice. I choose rude over wrong.”
Schneider said in the next debate he would like Trump to criticize Clinton on the issues Republicans have focused on throughout the presidential campaign.
“When you look at Hillary Clinton, with the email scandal, Benghazi, the Iran nuclear deal and Whitewater, and the things in her past, I don’t know how anybody could vote for Hillary Clinton, frankly,” he said.
Schneider has been a vocal supporter of Trump, even while other prominent Illinois Republicans like Gov. Bruce Rauner and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk have not been outright supportive.
Rauner has repeatedly refused to talk about the presidential race. Kirk, who is in a heated campaign for reelection, has shifted his position on Trump.
Kirk originally said he would support the Republican nominee, but has since encouraged voters to write-in their choice for president rather than vote for Clinton or Trump.
Kirk has said he would vote for former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Schneider said he supports Trump, Rauner and Kirk. He acknowledged, though, that he had to convince some Republican supporters in Southern Illinois to get behind Kirk in his tight campaign against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.
“When I go down to Southern Illinois, trust me, there’s usually a line from here to the door when I speak of people who say they can’t vote for Mark Kirk (because he’s not Republican enough),” Schneider said.
Schneider said he told those voters that if they agree with Kirk on 80 percent of the issues that does not make Kirk 20 percent traitor.
“You go down to Southern Illinois, and they’re Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump,” Schneider said. “You know, they’re really really rooting for this guy.”
Schneider also expressed gratitude to Rauner, who won the office in 2014 and contributed $14 million from his campaign fund to the Illinois Republican Party for state House and Senate campaigns.
Democrats have a supermajority of seats in both the state House and Senate, and Republicans are targeting some specific incumbent Democrats in ways they haven’t in the past.
“I think, for the first time in many years, we’re finally competing almost at an even level with the Democrats,” Schneider said.
He said he doesn’t foresee a compromise between Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan any time soon on workers compensation, term limits and other political and economic issues that have been at the heart of the stalemate at the Statehouse.
Schneider said the best solution to that stalemate would be for Republicans to win more House and Senate seats.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.