Rubio campaigns for Roskam in suburbs

Big names, dueling ads dominate final days of 6th District campaign

A former presidential candidate came to Oak Brook and Downers Grove Monday to stump for Republican incumbent Peter Roskam in the hotly contested race for the 6th Congressional District seat.

But while Roskam was welcoming Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for a fundraiser, his opponent, Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove, was issuing a news release condemning his opponent for the meeting.

Casten tried to put the focus on gun control in the wake of the shooting deaths of 11 people Saturday in a Pittsburgh synagogue, while Roskam and Rubio stressed the need to dial down the divisiveness of political rhetoric.

"The tone and the tenor of the national debate is reaching a crescendo. What we see all across the spectrum is more and more people who are coming to the public square and they're concerned about vitriol and they're concerned about rhetoric that is becoming increasingly corrosive," Roskam said. "My opponent, Sean Casten, has embraced the politics of ridicule; he has embraced the politics of emulating and encouraging incendiary language. And I think that's not what the 6th District is all about."

Before Roskam and Rubio addressed reporters, protesters gathered outside the fundraiser. Members of the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th called for changes to gun laws and protections for health coverage.

Even as they criticized Roskam's policy votes, both campaigns released new ads. Roskam deployed a 2-minute digital spot criticizing Casten's "extreme affiliations" and style of discourse, while Casten debuted an ad about a years-old investigation into the ethics of one of Roskam's international trips.

Monday's messaging came as both candidates are enduring busy late-season schedules, with campaign stops featuring the likes of Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth for Casten and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rubio for Roskam.

The latest confluence of posturing proves the election is around the corner, with a week until the polls close at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 in the district that stretches from Naperville to Tower Lakes in parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

Rubio, a 47-year-old Senator from Florida, is not up for re-election until 2022. But he said it was important to campaign for Roskam because the nation needs leaders who can set aside divisions.

"We need more people in our process that are there to solve problems and willing to work with people who have different ideas in order to find solutions to important issues, and Peter represents that," Rubio said. "So that's why I'm here. It's not just about keeping a majority in the House or which party governs. It's about ensuring that, when you have such a clear contrast, such as in a race like this, that people make the right choice."

The contrast the senator highlighted is between what he says is Roskam's "style and his record" of tamping down the "cycle of anger and outrage" that sidetracks debate, and what Roskam repeatedly has called Casten's use of "the politics of ridicule."

Rubio said Roskam represents his district and works across the aisle as well as anyone in national politics.

"He recognizes that a republic, while all societies have divisions, a republic cannot survive, much less function, if people with disagreements on various issues are not able to work together on the things they agree on," Rubio said.

Casten, meanwhile, said Roskam's critiques of his campaign style are an attempt to distract from the real issues, which he says are health care, women's rights, environmental protections and "passing common-sense gun laws."

Casten on Twitter reposted a Roskam statement condemning the mailings of pipe bombs last week. And his campaign on Saturday released a statement calling the Pittsburgh shootings "heartbreaking." "Peter Roskam and I both agree that we must pursue civil discourse in politics," Casten said in a written statement Monday. "The assassination attempts this past week are a proof point that politicians must lead and call for peace and civility. Hate and anger and anti-Semitism must stop."

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Democrat Sean Casten, left, and Republican incumbent Peter Roskam are candidates for the 6th Congressional District seat.
  U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida greet executives Monday at Elkay Manufacturing in Downers Grove, where the politicians met with reporters and toured the facility. Bev Horne/
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