Haley Barbour Gives Illinois GOP a Pep Talk

"We're back, baby!"

By Dick Johnson
|  Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010  |  Updated 12:45 PM CDT
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Seeing Red: Republicans Who Could Reshape Illinois Politics

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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

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Despite a seemingly fractured Governor's ticket, the Illinois GOP sent a message to its troops Wednesday at the Republican Unity Breakfast.

"We're back, baby!"

Keynote speaker Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi asked the group at the Union League Club of Chicago if they had the ammunition for to turn a blue state red. 

"You think what Illinois has done for the last eight years is enough to unite the Republicans in the fall," he asked, referring to this state's penchant for corrupt jailbird governors.

If that weren't enough of a rallying cry, state GOP chairman Pat Brady gave them a target in Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for the senate.

"Rod goes on trial next summer right across the street," Brady said about the former governor of Illinois."This is our chance to make a clean break from Chicago style politics that have destroyed Illinois."

But those themes are like shooting fish in a barrel. The real prize is the United States Senate seat, and Alexi Giannoulias didn't escape as a subject from the GOP pep talk.

"Even Tony Rezko won't do business with that bank anymore," Brady said referring to the current imbroglio with his family's Broadway Bank. 

The idea wasn't lost on Senate nominee Mark Kirk who took a few swings of his own, while touting a poll that showing him leading Giannoulias 47 percent to 35 percent.

"Welcome to the most important race in the United States of America," Kirk said. "We cannot afford Alexi Giannoulias. He's ducking questions about his family's bank. 

"Here is the situation: his family has pulled 70 million dollars out of their bank.  This may trigger another expensive taxpayer bailout."

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