U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam is skipping Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance Friday in Rosemont — planning to be in Washington to take votes instead — but Gov. Bruce Rauner will be at the event to introduce Pence, officials confirmed Thursday.
Pence is expected to headline a fundraiser for Roskam and other Republicans in the area before his scheduled 12:30 p.m. appearance in the grand ballroom of The Westin O’Hare hotel, 6100 N. River Road. That’s where America First Policies, an organization tied to the pro-President Donald Trump super PAC America First Action, is hosting the 17th event of its “Tax Cuts to Put America First” tour. Pence spoke at a similar event Wednesday in Kansas City.
After Air Force Two lands Friday morning at O’Hare International Airport, Pence will attend a private fundraiser hosted by the Roskam Victory Committee, according to Veronica Vera, a Roskam spokeswoman.
Roskam, a Wheaton Republican and major booster of Trump’s tax law approved in December, was scheduled to take part in a panel discussion at the Rosemont event leading up to Pence’s keynote address.
“His participation on the panel was always contingent on the votes (in Washington, D.C.),” Vera said. “Had he not had votes, the likelihood he would’ve participated on the panel was very, very high.”
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano also will miss Pence’s appearance in the suburbs. He will remain at the Capitol for votes, said his chief of staff, Dean Peterson.
Roskam is using the tax cuts to appeal to voters in the 6th Congressional District, where he’s facing a re-election challenge from Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove. In an attempt to attract independents and moderates, he’s also opposed Trump on some issues, such as the child separation policy at the border and cuts to Great Lakes restoration funds.
“Congressman Roskam has been very clear the votes that he takes reflect the values of the 6th District,” Vera said. “When those values do not align with the president’s policies, he votes with his district.”
In a statement Thursday, Casten said Roskam’s absence at the fundraiser is meant to “duck any photos of himself with Donald Trump’s top cheerleader, Mike Pence.”
“While he masquerades as a ‘moderate,’ Peter Roskam’s out-of-step positions on abortion, LGBT rights and immigration mirror Mike Pence’s,” Casten wrote. “And they’re completely out-of-step with the voters he’s supposed to represent.”
Hultgren is in a re-election battle of his own against Democrat Lauren Underwood of Naperville for his 14th District seat.
Rauner, the Republican governor, has distanced himself from Trump but may be closer to Pence, having met with the vice president recently in Washington. Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, ran Rauner’s campaign for governor in 2014. Ayers also helped start America First Policies last year to support Trump’s agenda.
Touring a Schaumburg steel company Tuesday, Rauner spoke out against Trump’s trade policies but supported his nomination of conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Other panelists scheduled to discuss the tax cuts on Friday are Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon and Nicole Wolter, the president and CEO of HM Manufacturing in Wauconda.
• Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke contributed to this report.
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