A Republican running to be Illinois' governor is standing by a controversial television ad that has been criticized by some fellow party members as being offensive.
The spot released by Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Ives on Friday directly attacks Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's record, featuring five actors sardonically thanking Rauner on a litany of sensitive cultural issues, including gender identity, abortion and immigration.
"Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls' bathroom," one actors says, portraying a transgender woman in a dress.
"Thank you for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions," a female character says while wearing the symbol of the Woman's March on Washington, a pink "pussyhat" with cat ears.
GOP state chairman Tim Schneider said the spot "does not reflect who we are as the Party of Lincoln and as proud residents of our great and diverse state" and requesting it be pulled.
"There is no place in the Illinois Republican Party for rhetoric that attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender or humanity," Schneider said in a statement.
A Republican candidate for state attorney general also called on the campaign to immediately cancel the ad.
"This ad denigrates, mocks and marginalizes groups of Illinoisans and cannot represent our Republican Party," Erika Harold said in a statement. "I call on the Ives campaign to immediately take it off the air."
Other groups that have criticized the spot include Equality Illinois, an LGBTQ civil rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union chapter of Illinois, the Chicago Teachers Union and Personal PAC, a pro-choice advocacy organization.
Kathleen Murphy, a spokeswoman for Ives, told CNN on Monday that the ad, along with a more conventional spot that aired in local markets during the Super Bowl, is part of a statewide buy. Asked if the campaign had any statement about the "Thank you" advertisement, Murphy referred to the campaign's original statement accompanying the spot, which said it "represents Governor Rauner's chosen constituents based on the policy choices he made, as well as a fair and accurate representation of the implications of those policy choices."
"Those Republican primary voters who don't know of Rauner's betrayals of conservatives need to know. Now they will," the statement adds.
Ives is the sole primary challenger that Rauner faces on March 20. She defended the spot at a Saturday night event, saying it's about policy and not a personal attack on Rauner, according to The News-Gazette newspaper.
"I guess the visual was necessary to raise awareness to Republican primary voters that have been asleep for a while," Ives said at that event. "That's what the ad was about. We needed to still alert Republican primary voters to the policies he put in place."
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