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Durbin Stumps Downstate With Hare

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin has no doubt about who the enemy is in the 2010 elections: none other than Karl Rove, “the master strategist for George W. Bush.”

“He’s back, and it ain’t even Halloween,” the Illinois Democrat declared to the crowd at the Laborers’ Local 309 union hall Saturday. “And when it comes to low-down campaigning, Karl Rove crawls on his belly like a reptile.”

Campaigning for embattled Rep. Phil Hare (D) in the Quad Cities, Durbin told the crowd that he always reads the small print at the end of political ads. Lately, he said, he has found some unfamiliar names — not Republicans or Democrats but groups with innocuous-sounding names such as Crossroads GPS, the 501(c)(4) that Rove is affiliated with.

Rove “won’t tell you where his money comes from,” Durbin said. “He stumbled at the beginning, though, and he disclosed his early contributors. They would be Texas gas and oil millionaires. Surprised? I’m not surprised!”

He told the crowd that President Bill Clinton left a surplus for Bush and that his former colleague, President Barack Obama, inherited from Bush a much larger national deficit and an economy that was shedding jobs. As the union members prepared to knock on doors on Hare’s behalf, the Senator urged them to think about what life would be like when they wake up on the day after the elections.

Durbin spent all of Saturday campaigning with Hare, starting in Rock Island and continuing to Galesburg and Canton. Hare, who was first elected in the western Illinois 17th district in 2006, faces Republican businessman Bobby Schilling in his first competitive election. As of Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had spent $587,000 in independent expenditures to boost Hare, who was not initially a target for the GOP this cycle. The National Republican Congressional Committee had spent $341,000 in IEs against Hare.

Durbin tied Hare to his predecessor and former boss, Rep. Lane Evans (D), who decided not to run for re-election in 2006 because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease. Durbin said Evans was his best friend in Congress, but he has come to love Hare, too.

“I love this guy, not just because he’s such a hard worker but because his values are the right values,” he said. “He doesn’t apologize one damn bit for standing up for working families.”

Hare also did his part to talk up his colleague, calling Durbin “the conscience of the United States Senate.”

“If we had 99 more Dick Durbins, we’d have a great Senate,” he said in an interview after the event.

On Monday, Durbin will appear at a senior citizen forum in Joliet with freshman Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who is among the most endangered Democrats seeking re-election.

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