CHICAGO — Donald Trump endorsed conservative Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey for Illinois governor Saturday during a Save America rally at a central Illinois fairground just three days before the state’s primary election.
The former president used the stage to bask in news that the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, which protected the right to an abortion, and a New York gun law that put restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside of the home.
He called the Roe decision “a victory for the Constitution, a victory for the rule of law, and above all, a victory for life.”
Trump also took a swipe at the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, calling it the “fake” committee and the “unselect” committee, and singling out Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois as Republicans who can’t be trusted — “worse than Democrats because you don’t know where they’re coming from.”
The former president paused a few times during his one-hour speech to allow the pro-Trump crowd to cheer or chant — “four more years” was one — at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon, Ill. Speaking on the open stage in sunshine with temperatures at 88 degrees, Trump paused, too, to dab at his forehead at one point, saying, “It’s hot.”
Trump’s visit to Illinois was billed as a rally in support of freshman Rep. Mary Miller, who’s in a heated one-on-one contest with veteran Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois co-chair of Trump’s 2020 campaign. The former president called Miller a “warrior in our movement.”
Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Administration, fell out of favor with Trump in part because he was among 35 Republicans to support a bipartisan independent investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. That idea failed, ultimately leading to the panel that’s in place now.
Trump’s endorsement of Bailey on Saturday comes after the Illinois Republican moved ahead in the polls in a six-man race that included previous frontrunner Richard Irvin, whose campaign received $50 million from billionaire GOP donor Ken Griffin.
“Darren is just the man to take on and defeat one of the worst governors in America,” Trump said, referring to Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, who has been a constant critic of Trump and his MAGA movement.
Bailey, however, can credit Pritzker in part for his lead in the GOP race. The Illinois governor and the Democratic Governors Association spent $34 million on TV ads proclaiming Bailey’s conservatism as dangerous. It might influence independents in the general election, but for the primary, it only rallied conservative voters.
On Saturday, Pritzker tweeted a video message repeating his past mantra about Trump being “a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic president. … And any candidate who refuses to speak out against Trump’s Big Lie has no business running for office.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misstated the date of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.