“Every demagogue has done this, right? Find a group of angry people and give them something to be angry at,” Casten says in the recording from an event in February that was posted on the Washington Free Beacon’s website.
In a statement, Casten’s campaign acknowledged that his words were “poorly chosen” and said he regrets them.
But the statement went on to criticize Trump for having “gone out of his way to divide Americans for his own personal gain rather than bringing us together” and to say that Roskam has failed to be a check on Trump.
Republicans pounced on the recording, with Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Travis Sterling calling Casten’s remarks “disrespectful, repugnant, and disqualifying.”
“In this era of deep partisanship this type of harmful rhetoric shows he is out of touch with the communities of Sixth Congressional District,” Sterling said in a statement.
Roskam’s campaign also responded, saying: “Our communities need a solutions-oriented Representative who can bring people together to get things done. This kind of hateful, vicious language is exactly the wrong approach.”
Casten is a clean-energy business executive.