- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - The candidates for Illinois governor tried to garner support from women voters Friday as Gov. Pat Quinn hosted an event for noted feminist Gloria Steinem and Republican Bruce Rauner’s wife was scheduled for a round of television interviews.

Both parties have ramped up efforts to reach the critical voting bloc, particularly in Chicago’s suburbs. The gubernatorial matchup is one of the most competitive nationwide.

“Gov. Quinn is the most pro-woman, pro-child governor in the country,” Steinem told supporters in downtown Chicago. “We absolutely must not lose him.”

Rauner’s campaign turned to its most prominent spokeswoman on women’s issues to counter Quinn’s event, scheduling television interviews with Diana Rauner. She has appeared in campaign commercials saying her husband “doesn’t have a social agenda.”

“I think women see him as the ideal candidate to improve the lives of families in Illinois,” Diana Rauner, who is a Democrat and head of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, said in a statement.

But Steinem, recognized as a leader of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, questioned Rauner’s views on abortion. She noted Quinn and lieutenant governor running mate Paul Vallas are “pro-choice.”

Rauner supports restrictions on late-term abortions, saying in an Associated Press candidate questionnaire that abortion is an issue “best decided by a woman and her doctor.” He’s said he doesn’t like the term “pro-choice.” Rauner’s running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti, labels herself “pro-life,” which organizers of the Quinn event noted Friday.

Democrats also are pushing a Nov. 4 ballot measure asking if insurance companies should pay for birth control. Illinois has such a law already, but supporters say voters’ support will ensure future protections. Republicans have said it’s a tactic to boost Democratic votes.

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Follow Sophia Tareen at http://twitter.com/sophiatareen .

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Associated Press writer Sara Burnett contributed to this report.

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