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Rauner Slammed For Initial Refusal To Call Charlottesville Attack Terrorism

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 14, 2017 5:39PM

Governor Bruce Rauner outside the Director's Lawn at the Illinois State Fair in August 2016. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is taking heat for what critics call a very Trump-like tactic of first refusing to label as terrorism the horrific attack on counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia as terrorism. Rauner ultimately issued a more forceful rebuke on Monday afternoon as criticism continued to mount.

In a morning press conference after he finished signing HB2663—a bill than bans the expulsion of schoolchildren in preschool—reporters asked the governor about the incident, which he called “horrible,” but refused to call terrorism.

Rauner tweeted over the weekend that there was “no excuse for violence and bigotry.”

Similar to President Donald Trump however the governor seemed to have an issue with specifically calling the act terrorism or calling the alleged perpetrator a white supremacist. Several of his potential democratic rivals for the 2018 election came out in the past few days to not only condemn the act and call it terrorism, but also promoted or attended events in the state to show solidarity for the victims.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker referred to Rauner’s refusal as “cowardice.”

“White supremacists are terrorizing communities and Bruce Rauner is mincing words and tiptoeing around our bigoted president,” said Pritzker in a statement emailed to Chicagoist. “The injured and dead who protested this weekend deserve better than this flagrant cowardice from Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump. If we are going to address what happened in Charlottesville then we should have the courage to call it exactly what it is: terrorism.”

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar tweeted at the governor to “say it.”

Chris Kennedy said Rauner was “following in the footsteps of Trump.”

“Not calling it so speaks volumes about where he stands,” said Kennedy in a statement published by Capitol Fax. “Our country and our state are in the hands of two men who embolden the hate coming from white supremacists.”

As he began to take criticism from many sides on social media and after repeated questioning by reporters, the governor ultimately issued a clearer denunciation, telling Capitol Fax:

“The deadly violence in Charlottesville this weekend is abhorrent and absolutely an act of domestic terrorism. Racism, hatred and violence have no place in our society. The individuals responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”