COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady joined former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich for a rally Friday, with both of them criticizing Democratic officials in Illinois and Washington for hurting the economy.
The appearance was part of Gingrich's 11-city tour supporting Republican candidates and criticizing President Barack Obama's economic policies. State Sen. Brady is seeking to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn, and highlighted the state's unemployment rate as a key reason for voter discontent with incumbents this election season.
"This is a governor who's left us with record unemployment," Brady said. "Thirty-five states in this nation have created more jobs in the last two months."
Quinn spokeswoman Mica Matsoff called that criticism misleading, saying the unemployment rate has improved for the past six months and fallen below 10 percent for the first time since April 2009.
"There is a lot more work to do, but the truth in the numbers is that Illinois leads the Midwest in job growth this year," Matsoff said.
Gingrich seemed to be the main draw to the event attended by more than 300 people crammed into a convention center ballroom. Gingrich gave a low-key, almost professorial speech that veered from quoting the U.S. Declaration of Independence to quoting the French author and philosopher Albert Camus.
He chided National Public Radio for firing news analyst and Fox News commentator Juan Williams after Williams said he was made nervous by airline passengers who dress in "Muslim garb."
"Now you have censorship at National Public Radio," Gingrich said.
Attendees like Sue and Felix Erlenbusch said they showed up to see Gingrich. Sue Erlenbusch said the retired couple quit donating money to the Republican National Committee and steered it instead to conservative groups like Gingrich's American Solutions.
"We'd love to see Newt in charge of the RNC," she said. "They want to work across the aisle to help Obama get his agenda passed. We want it rolled back."