An Illinois gubernatorial hopeful defended a controversial campaign ad that mocked Women’s March activists and the transgender community, among other groups.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, who is running against Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary, acknowledged while speaking in Chicago Monday that the campaign ad was “edgy,” but said she was “a little bit surprised at some of the hysteria” the clip had prompted.
“I want to know why people are so offended by it,” Ives said while speaking at the City Club of Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The ad is a policy ad. That’s what it is. It’s an accurate depiction of the policies Rauner put in place.”
She went on to offer a cringe-inducing, not to mention misgendered, defense of the actor portraying a transgender woman: “The transgender man, that’s exactly what typically a transgender man looks like.”
When an audience member disagreed, Ives responded, “With all due respect, look, I’ve had him show up at my door.”
Titled “Thank you, Bruce Rauner,” Ives’ ad aimed to critique some of the policies Rauner put in place since taking office in 2015.
At one point, a deep-voiced actor wearing a red dress thanks the governor for “signing legislation that lets me use the girls bathroom,” and later, a woman in a pink “pussy” hat expresses gratitude for having Illinois families “pay for my abortions.”
Both Democrats and Republicans criticized Ives for releasing the ad, which deems Rauner “the worst Republican governor in the country.”
On Monday, Ives maintained that her commercial “does not attack people, it tackles issues.”
Though Ives nods to the so-called “bathroom bill” controversy that swept through many U.S. states over the past two years, the Illinois law allows trans individuals to change their gender printed on birth certificates with a doctor’s approval. It makes no reference to transgender bathroom rights.