DeKALB – Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could carry the state on Election Day, citing statewide dissatisfaction with Democrats.
But it won’t be easy, Rutherford told Republican supporters at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. Illinois is not only a Democratic stronghold, but President Barack Obama’s home state, he noted.
“There is a rustling under the leaves in this state,” said Rutherford, who also is the chairman of the Romney campaign in Illinois.
Paul Stoddard, the vice chairman of the Democratic Party in DeKalb County, didn’t attend the event but figures Obama will do quite well next week.
But Rutherford pointed to the results of the 2010 elections as evidence that Illinois was changing from a blue state to a purple state. He added that people all over feel that Obama did not live up to his word.
“America is looking at this administration very differently than what it thought it was going to get,” Rutherford said.
He also compared the 2012 election to its 1980 counterpart, in which Ronald Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter. In both elections, Rutherford said, the country was in an economic downturn, unemployment was high, and an embassy had been attacked.
Stoddard disagreed with that comparison on many fronts.
“The economy’s not coming back as fast as people want it to, but I think it’s unrealistic to fix in four years what was messed up in eight,” Stoddard said. “Romney is certainly no Reagan, and Obama is not Carter.”
Stoddard said while he understands why Rutherford is giving a rallying speech, the state will go to Obama and the Romney campaign knows that. He pointed to the lack of campaign stops and commercials aired by the Romney campaign in the state.
Rutherford addressed this in his speech, saying that he told the Romney campaign to put their money into ads for swing states.
A number of Republican officeholders were there for Rutherford’s speech, including DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell, State Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley; State Sen. Christine Johnson, R-Shabbona; and several candidates for the county board.
Rutherford spent a portion of his speech emphasizing the importance of grass-roots campaigns. He said a strong county board will lead to stronger candidates for state representative and Congress.
Stoddard said this tactic is being used by both parties.
One candidate, Samuel-Louis Bandy, Jr., a Republican running for the board’s ninth district, said he liked how motivational Rutherford’s speech was.
“Having walked the precincts in my district ... I’m hearing a lot of people who voted for Obama last time are regretting their vote,” Bandy said. “They feel he let them down in many ways.”