Politics

GOP Rep. Roskam Accuses Democratic Opponent of ‘Channeling’ Trump

Democrat Sean Casten using ‘politics of ridicule’ in race against vulnerable Illinois Republican

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., is in a Tossup race with Democrat Sean Casten, per Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

GOP Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois criticized his Democratic opponent in the November midterm elections by likening the Democrat’s political strategy to that of ... President Donald Trump?

That’s right: Roskam has accused Chicago suburban businessman and Democratic nominee Sean Casten of “channeling” the GOP standard-bearer on Twitter with his “hyperbolic” attacks on Republicans in Congress and a comment he made that Trump and Osama bin Laden have “a tremendous amount in common,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“The irony is: Sean, who is Donald Trump’s biggest critic, is ironically emulating him insofar as he’s advocating the politics of ridicule,” Roskam said at a joint meeting with the candidates and the Daily Herald editorial board. “And the proof of that is calling Republicans a party of deplorables. He’s retweeted that. He’s called Republican donors morons.”

Casten has apologized, he said, for the bin Laden comment but accused Roskam of offering no resistance to Trump, who is widely unpopular in Illinois’ 6th District.

“If Peter doesn’t appreciate my sense of humor or is offended by me, I’m sorry,” Casten told the Tribune. “But we have a big problem with silent complicity in the overwhelming majority of the Republican House right now. We are facing an existential crisis to democracy. We have a president who believes that he is above the rule of law.”

Roskam has pushed back on the notion that he has rolled over at Trump’s more controversial moments.

After the president’s widely panned Helsinki press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Roskam told Trump to his face at the White House that the way he handled the press conference — where he sided with Putin over his own intelligence agencies about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections — was “inappropriate.”

That confrontation “demonstrated a capacity to reflect a constituency that’s concerned about” Trump’s often rogue political nature, Roskam said.

Roskam, who is seeking a seventh consecutive term, is one of the handful of House Republicans for whom it may not be a wise campaign strategy to align himself with the president and his bullish rhetoric.

Roskam defeated Democratic nominee Amanda Howland in 2016 by nearly 20 points. But Hillary Clinton carried the district by 7 points over Trump, and actually garnered a 50.2 percent majority.

The district incorporates a long swath of Chicago’s northwestern suburbs, areas where some upper-middle class homeowners are expected to be negatively affected by the 2017 tax code overhaul.

Roskam voted in favor of that overhaul.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates this year’s race in Illinois’ 6th District a Tossup.

Watch: Trump's 3 Legislative Priorities Before the Midterm Vote

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