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Future Schock? Peoria GOPer sure sounds like a gubernatorial candidate

Republican Congressman AarSchock Illinois smiles during an interview with AFP ConventiCenter TampFloridAugust 28 2012 during Republican National Convention. FILE.

Republican Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois smiles during an interview with AFP at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, on August 28, 2012 during the Republican National Convention. FILE. AFP PHOTO Brigitte DUSSEAUBRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:26AM

TAMPA — U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a rising star in the House GOP and on the national cable news circuit, attacked Gov. Quinn Tuesday as “incapable of turning the ship around” and expressed no fear in taking on powerful Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Those statements, made during a wide-ranging interview at the Republican National Convention with the Chicago Sun-Times, underscore that the two-term congressman is positioned as a viable candidate for Illinois governor in 2014.

The Peoria Republican stopped short of saying he intends to run, insisting that decision won’t come until after the November elections. But, significantly, Schock also did not rule out the possibility of running for the state’s top political job.

“Are you expecting me to make an announcement here today?” Schock said with a laugh, when asked whether he intends to challenge Quinn in the 2014 election.

“I say this: Anybody who’s focused on 2014 right now is doing our party a disservice because we have a lot at stake in the presidential campaign, and we have a handful of congressmen and women whose political backs are on the line in Illinois, and we need to be doing everything we can to help those men and women get across the finish line,” Schock said.

The congressman made the media rounds Tuesday as a surrogate for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, appearing on Fox News and CNN, who characterized the charismatic Schock as “a secret weapon for Mitt Romney.”

The highly visible stump work also serves to up his profile significantly for a potential gubernatorial run, should he decide to do that. And in going after Quinn, Schock certainly was sounding like a candidate.

“He’s been in state government for 30 years. He’s been at the helm of the state for what will be six-plus years. He’s proven incapable of turning the ship around,” Schock said of Quinn.

Schock described Quinn as lacking focus.

“I think part of it is I don’t think he has the personality that’s engaging, that instills confidence,” from his party, Schock said. “I think he doesn’t have the capacity perhaps to put it all together.”

Schock also didn’t mince words for Madigan and said he isn’t intimidated by the Southwest Side Democrat, who has been the GOP’s favorite pin cushion leading up to the fall elections with “Fire Madigan” messaging that is getting slapped on coffee mugs, golf polos and dog T-shirts.

“I maybe don’t buy into the reality of Mike Madigan,” Schock said.

“To me, if you’re serious about changing the direction of the state, if you’re serious about wanting to be governor or whatever it is people want to be, if they don’t want to take him on, then they’re not going to be serious players once they’re elected.”

Former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert also hit Madigan Tuesday, telling members of the state’s delegation to the Republican convention that unseating him needs to be a focal point in the fall elections.

“If you want to change the Republican Party, you start right here in Illinois and change the House of Representatives in the state of Illinois,” Hastert said.

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