Rauner supports Trump, to a point

Guv backs president's stands on taxes and tariffs, but not on Omarosa

 Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses partisan supporters on Governor's Day at the State Fair Wednesday. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses partisan supporters on Governor's Day at the State Fair Wednesday. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner expressed support for President Trump on taxes, tariffs, and business regulations Wednesday, but pulled up short when the subject came to former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Rauner made the remarks during a short news conference before he addressed Republican supporters on Governor's Day at the State Fair in Springfield.

"The president is doin' important work to cut taxes, that's outstanding, cut the red tape and regulations on business, that's outstanding," he said. "He's fightin' hard to get fair trade. America's been taken advantage of by foreign nations for years. We've lost American jobs. He's fightin' to get fair trade. The president's doing great work and I support that."

Trump's trade war is controversial in Illinois and elsewhere. The president's protectionist tariffs on steel have been credited with reinvigorating the U.S. Steel Granite City Works, where he spoke last month. But retaliatory tariffs from China, Mexico, and Canada have cost Illinois soybean growers and pork producers.

Trump has proposed $12 billion in aid handouts to farmers hurt by the tariffs, but with the deficit the federal government is running with the tax cuts passed late last year that money would have to be borrowed from China.

The Illinois Soybean Growers Association has rejected that aid, saying, "If trade is our problem, aid handouts are a poor solution," but hog farmers have been more receptive.

Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson has considered shifting production to Europe as a result of higher U.S. steel prices, and Trump has responded by backing a boycott against the motorcycle manufacturer. That has placed Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a tight position on whether to back Trump on that or not.

 While supporting President Trump's trade war, Gov. Rauner rumbled up to a political rally at the State Fair Wednesday on a Harley. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

While supporting President Trump's trade war, Gov. Rauner rumbled up to a political rally at the State Fair Wednesday on a Harley. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Even as Rauner backed Trump on tariffs, he rode up to the Governor's Day political rally as in years past on his Harley.

Rauner, however, backed off when asked about fired White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman and her ongoing feud with the president. A contestant on the original season of Trump's reality TV series "The Apprentice," she was hired by Trump to work in the White House, but has rattled Trump and other staffers since being fired by writing a newly released book on Trump called "Unhinged" and more recently revealing that she taped administration colleagues talking about Trump's alleged used of a racial epithet.

Trump responded by calling her a "dog" in a tweet this week.

"I heard about that," Rauner said when asked about it. "That's appalling rhetoric. That rhetoric has no place in public discourse."

The Trump administration has charged that Manigault Newman has violated non-disclosure agreements signed when she was working on his 2016 presidential campaign. Rauner deflected questions on that, saying, "I don't know all the details on what's going on in the White House" and declining to comment on whether any of his staffers have been asked to sign such agreements.

Here's Rauner's entire news conference in a One Illinois video by Zachary Sigelko.