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Rauner avoids social issues, focuses on economy during Lisle visit

LISLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner avoided taking a personal stance on gay marriage Monday during a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hilton Lisle-Naperville Hotel, 3003 Corporate W. Drive, in Lisle.

"I do not have a social issues agenda," said Rauner.

Monday was the first day same-sex couples could receive marriage licenses in DuPage County after the state law went into effect Sunday.

Rauner told the crowd he believed the law should have emerged from a voter-supported referendum.

"Now it's passed. It's the law. I don't have any agenda to change it, and the only way I'd change it is if it were done in a referendum," Rauner told reporters after the luncheon.

Instead of social issues, Rauner told chamber members his agenda was about economics and education, and that his priorities were to create more jobs, lower taxes, improve schools and impose term limits for state politicians.

"Term limits aren't the perfect answer to corruption, but ... terms limits could help a tremendous amount," he said.

Rauner announced Monday that the term-limits referendum he supports had been officially approved after all signatures were reviewed.

"It's going to go to you in November," he said to the crowd.

He also talked about his effort to appeal to a range of voters and to win over those who are traditionally Democrats.

"We are reaching out to voters in every community, from every background, no matter what their political persuasion or income level or ethnicity," Rauner said.

When asked how he planned to win the Democratic vote, Rauner separated himself from other Republicans.

"We're not doing what most Republicans do, and that is going to a few country clubs and going to a few farm events," he said.

After the event, Rauner was asked whether he thought he could win without the socially conservative vote, given he does not have a social agenda.

"We're running a campaign that I hope appeals to voters across the political spectrum," he said.

Rauner said he believes his economic and educational goals are common concerns across the state. He called small business owners the backbone of Illinois' economy and advocated for creating a less regulated, more business-friendly state.

Dennis Culloton, president and CEO of event sponsor Culloton Strategies, agreed with Rauner's prioritization of lower taxes. While he acknowledged Illinois' fiscal challenges, he said he believed reduced taxes would increase the tax base and generate more sales tax revenue.

"It's become popular to kick business, but that's really how you build strong communities – by having jobs and opportunities available," Culloton said.

Rauner also criticized the budget the Illinois Legislature passed Friday, saying it wasn't balanced.

"We have a long-term goal to reduce the overall tax burden and reduce the spending in Springfield," Rauner said.

He told the crowd the upcoming election was about working families in the state. He blamed the political process in Springfield for driving business and jobs out of Illinois.

"We're going to go to work for every family in this state," Rauner said.

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