Hultgren: I'm not sold on Trump
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Plano Republican, said Friday he's "not sold" on Donald Trump, perhaps further deepening the split among Illinois GOP leaders over the party's presumptive presidential nominee.
"I am not sold on Mr. Trump -- not yet," Hultgren said in a statement released a day after Gov. Bruce Rauner said he won't endorse Trump.
"I don't know if I'll ever be," Hultgren said. "I haven't yet been able to reconcile his differences with my strongly held beliefs on family and religious freedom, which I believe are the foundation for our country's well-being and identity."
The comments echo U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday, when he said on national television he is "just not ready" to back Trump, though the two are now set to meet soon.
Ryan's move was seen as a way for the Republican leader to give political cover to some of his members who might be skittish about opposing Trump.
Hultgren also said Trump has voiced Americans' "fear that their future will not be bright and hold the promise of opportunity for all."
"Under strong pressure, I have taken tough votes to get our country back on track," Hultgren said. "Donald Trump has done a good job of voicing those frustrations, and many find his backbone to stand up to big government and special interest groups something they can trust."
Among suburban Republicans in Congress, U.S. Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth was an early Trump critic.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton declined to comment Friday.
Trump won Illinois' primary election by a healthy margin in March, meaning Republicans here could run afoul of some voters by criticizing the real estate mogul.
Trump responded to the growing wave of Republican critics Thursday by trying to turn the tables on Ryan.
"I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda," he said.
Democrats in Illinois have tried to use the controversy surrounding Trump in close races like U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's re-election campaign against Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.
Kirk told CNN recently he would back Trump as the nominee.
"Donald Trump is kind of a riverboat gamble," Kirk said. "He won the Illinois primary, in this case we have seen the Republican vote up and the Democratic vote down, so it looks like it's a net benefit."
Duckworth's campaign responded.
"Kirk has shown bad judgment before, but his reflexive support for Trump may top it all," spokesman Matt McGrath said.
Illinois Republicans are holding their state political convention later this month.