L to R: Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Bruce Rauner, Dan Rutherford
In the first forum with all four GOP candidates for governor, the focus Thursday was on business and the economy but the spotlight was on Bruce Rauner.
"It's been a beat-up-Brucey kind of morning," Rauner said.
Indeed it didn't take long for State Sen. Kirk Dillard to point out that it's "great Mr. Rauner could work this into his schedule," noting the forum marked Rauner's first he attended with his opponents.
When asked why he said earlier this week that Rauner can't win, Dillard said Rauner is "out of touch" and said there will be questions about how the businessman uses his money.
State Sen. Bill Brady said Rauner needs to come clean on his relationship with Stuart Levine. "You can't advertise your way out of it," Brady said.
In response, Rauner said he doesn't know Levine and he never met him. In his opening remarks, Rauner, skewered recently for his thoughts on minimum wage, referred to himself as a "self-made guy" and said he plans to run Springfield like a business.
"They see me coming," Rauner said. "I'm going to shake up the world."
He told the crowd he's not "anti-worker" but "anti-union bosses" and noted "the power of the governor is very strong. I'll get that done."
Later on he called Quinn the worst governor in America and said it will take "a lot of money to beat him."
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford used his opening statement to provide his background "shoveling asphalt during the summers." Continuing the "regular people" thread of the forum, Rutherford also said his family owned a pizza restaurant.
"I've been a citizen legislator," Rutherford said.
In his opening statements State Sen. Bill Brady joked that some may wonder who would want to be governor since they seem to spend "more time in prison than in office."
"We can do better," Brady said, "Return to the days of old, which were days of good."
In response to a question about minimum wage Rutherford said he doesn't support raising it or lowering it, and Dillard said he doesn't support it at this time.
Brady wants a "moratorium on raising the minimum wage until the federal wage catches up" and touched on the Rauner controversy, saying, "when you say you're going to lower the minimum wage, you scare families."
Rauner walked a finer line, saying "raising the minimum wage can be counter-productive" if it causes businesses to close their doors. If there are business reforms, he will support raising it. Without reforms, he does not support it.
When it came to the pension vote Dillard said "they dropped it on us on Thanksgiving weekend" and said he thought they have required Quinn to pay down outstanding bills.
"It took real courage to vote," Brady said. "We had a real reality check, it took courage."
Rutherford said he doesn't think the bill is constitutional, and Rauner called the pension bill wrong.
Rutherford didn't back down when Rauner engaged him at the end of the forum. The two went back and forth, and Rutherford told him, "do not misrepresent me."