AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Republican candidate for Illinois governor and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin went on the offensive Monday about Governor JB Pritzker's handling of the LaSalle Veterans Home COVID crisis.
But he also frequently found himself on the defensive during his first Chicago-area news conference since launching his campaign nearly four months ago.
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Emerging from the shadows of a campaign where he has relied on TV ads and mailers to get his message out, Irvin finally held his first news conference with Chicago reporters.
Irvin seized on the Inspector General's report that criticized Pritzker for his administration's handling of the COVID outbreak at the LaSalle Veteran's home that killed 36 veterans.
"There needs to be accountability," Irvin said. "JB Pritzker needs to answer to the families who senselessly lost their loved ones because of his negligence. JB Pritzker needs to accept responsibility instead of consistently pointing the fingers at others."
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Irvin declined to comment on the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that supported overturning Roe v. Wade, and other abortion-related questions.
"In Illinois, in Illinois, you know I'm running for governor in the state of Illinois, I'm not talking about what the federal government is going to do," Irvin said.
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Irvin also repeatedly dodged questions about Donald Trump from me and other reporters.
"Did you vote for President Trump, and would you support President Trump if he ran again?" I asked him.
"That's exactly what JB Pritzker wants," Irvin said.
"Can you answer the question?" I asked.
"That's exactly what JB Pritzker wants," Irvin repeated.
"Can you answer the question?" I asked again.
"That's exactly what JB Pritzker wants," Irvin answered. "He wants to be talking about anything other than his failures and his record."
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In response to the news conference, Pritzker's campaign spokesperson Natalie Edelstein said: "Richard Irvin's cowardly attempts to deflect focus from his inability to answer straightforward questions gave us a preview into what his administration would look like: incompetent and chaotic."
North Central College Political Science Professor Stephen Caliendo listened to the news conference and said Irvin tried his best to stick to his agenda.
"I don't think his team is probably scrambling right now saying, you know, how do we deal with that disaster of a press conference we just had," Caliendo said. "Certainly they're going to want to talk to him about handling things a little bit differently. But he got, he said the things he wanted to say."
One thing Irvin repeatedly did say on abortion is that he is pro-life, but would make exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother.