CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn attended Chicago's gay pride parade Sunday, trying to capitalize on his opponent's comments about same-sex marriage, while Republican challenger Bruce Rauner spoke at a Mexican restaurant, trying to convince a group that traditionally votes for Democrats that he's the candidate who shares their values.
With months to go before the November election, both candidates talked about helping families.
Quinn spoke of how families "in Illinois deserve the opportunity to come together," while Rauner told a Hispanic audience that he wants to help make it easier to provide for their families.
On Chicago's North Side, surrounded by participants in one of the largest gay pride parades in the United States, Quinn said that Rauner's statements that he would have vetoed the Illinois same-sex marriage bill that Quinn signed into law suggest a candidate who does not represent the values of the state.
"The other side, I think, will find the voters of Illinois are very disappointed in their failure to support marriage equality," Quinn said. He also noted Rauner's comments that he would not advocate repealing the law unless voters say they want it changed in a referendum.
"I don't need a referendum to tell me what the right thing to do is," he said.
Rauner, though, countered that Quinn is simply "trying to manufacture a controversy that doesn't exist" because "he's desperate to take attention away from himself" amid a federal lawsuit alleging patronage hiring and investigations of Quinn's anti-violence program.
He also suggested that Quinn was attempting to scare voters into believing that he is out to repeal the law. "I'm comfortable with the law and I do not seek to change the law," he said.
At the parade, several people sported anti-Rauner T-shirts, and there was a large anti-Rauner sign on the side of a building along the parade route. Amy Callaway, a 44-year-old mother of a 21-year-old gay son, suggested the issue could hurt Rauner in the election.
"If he's anti-gay, I don't care whatever else he stands for — I won't vote for him," she said.
Rauner had his own message at the Mexican restaurant on the city's southwest side: He is the candidate who can most help Latino voters. Launching a coalition of supporters from the Latino community, to loud applause he said his running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti, will be the "first Latina lieutenant governor in Illinois history."
In an effort to build support in a community that traditionally votes for Democrats, Rauner drew comparisons between immigrants from Latin America and his own family, which came from Sweden, as he spoke at the crowded restaurant plastered with "Amigos de Rauner-Sanguinetti" signs.
"We are all from somewhere else," he said.
Rauner also tried to connect with his audience as a businessman trying to help small businesses, many of which are owned by Hispanics, which he said have been hurt by high taxes and unreasonable government regulations during Quinn's time in office.
Whether he can win over many Hispanic voters remains to be seen, but some in attendance said they were impressed that he'd selected Sanguinetti, the daughter of immigrants from Cuba and Ecuador, as his running mate.
The Rev. Ruben Cruz, who helped introduce Rauner at the event, said he was angry that Quinn didn't select a Hispanic or black running mate and that while he voted for Quinn in the last election, he would not this year.
"It's time that Hispanics be involved with government at the state level," he told the audience, to loud applause. With the selection of Sanguinetti, Rauner "not only gets my vote, he gets my support," he said.