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Rauner's racy ad has Illinois voters fired up

Foul language and homophobia top the list of critics' complaints.

We've all seen political attack ads that push the envelope. But critics say the latest one backing Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is downright offensive. It not only uses a bleeped-out curse word, but some say it mocks gay marriage.

The ad, called “An Unholy Union” portrays a marriage between Rauner’s November opponent, J.B. Pritzker and long-time Illinois Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan. After the actors exchange vows to “corrupt Illinois’ government, raise taxes and bankrupt Illinois’ future” the officiant stares into the camera and says, “I now pronounce Illinois f****d.”

“It's just classless, honestly,” said Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Associate Business Professor Robin Berkley.

“Are people profane, do people swear? Of course. But do we do that in political ads? Do we do that to make a point?”

Berkley helped create the school’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.

“This is a place where people of all kinds can come and feel comfortable and welcome,” said Berkley.

She feels Governor Rauner's ad sends a very different message.

The ad started airing earlier this week. On Wednesday, Rauner's campaign team released a new version with the cussing character's mouth blurred after complaints from tv stations.

When asked Tuesday about the ad's language, Governor Rauner wasn't quite so vulgar.

“My word is, I’ll say this, we're screwed. we're screwed as the state of Illinois if Pritzker and Madigan get power,” said Rauner.

Berkley says the ad’s overall message is far more offensive than just foul language from a holy man.

“He's using the same-sex marriage as a way of connecting with people who already don't believe same-sex marriage is appropriate. And so, he's taking a demonized group and he's taking the two politicians that he wants to demonize and he's making the connection in people's minds.”

Rauner says he's not homophobic.

“Same-sex marriage is the law. I support the law. I support same-sex marriage. I have been very supportive of the LGBTQ community as governor.”

Berkley feels the governor's explanation doesn't undo the harm his ad has already done.

“That's the equivalent of saying I'm not racist, I have black friends. or, I'm not homophobic because my sister's gay. it doesn't mean the act in and of itself wasn't offensive.”

Illinois voters will soon have their say about the ad, and the man it supports when they head to the polls to elect the state's next governor. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Raw interview: Gov. Bruce Rauner on controversial ad

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