Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has done his best to never mention President Donald Trump by name. But on Wednesday, days after he initially hesitated to call the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, an act of terrorism, Rauner issued his strongest criticism of Trump yet, saying his comments "damage America."
"I vehemently disagree with the president's comments about the tragedy in Charlottesville," Rauner said during Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. "We must stand together against hatred and racism and bigotry and violence and we must condemn those actions in Charlottesville in the strongest terms."
When asked why he seemed to be avoiding referring to Trump by name, Rauner said the president's name for the first time in months.
"I just said 'president,'" the governor said. "President Trump. I vehemently disagree with his comments. We have to condemn that sort of action those actions by frankly disgusting despicable white supremacist groups, we’ve got to call them that and we’ve got to condemn their actions."
"The comments damage America," he added. "We are all Americans. It doesn't matter what party, it doesn't matter who we vote for. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we stand for justice and fairness and equality. That's what America is about. And racism and bigotry and violence has no place in our society."
Rauner was referring to Trump's unscripted comments during a news conference Tuesday, in which he once again claimed "there is blame on both sides" for violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend.
Trump appeared to equate the actions of white supremacist groups and those protesting them, saying there "were very fine people on both sides" - comments that have drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle.
The governor mentioned neither Trump nor the events that took place in Charlottesville while speaking at a breakfast for the Illinois Republican Party, and later arrived to rally the GOP at the Illinois State Fair, where there were plenty of "Fire Madigan" shirts, in reference to longtime Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan, but few signs of support for the Republican commander in chief.
Rauner's initial reluctance to address the events in Charlottesville didn't stop other members of the GOP from speaking out, as Congressman Rodney Davis addressed what was on everyone's minds.
"There is no place for racism, there is no place for white supremacy and there is no place in our party to make that happen," Davis said.
"We are against hate groups. Stop it," Rep. Randy Hultgren added. "We are the party for freedom and opportunity for everybody. Now let's start talking about tax reform. Let's get this economy growing."
The Illinois House also passed a resolution condemning groups including the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist organizations and Neo-Nazis, with lawmakers from both parties voting in support.