Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner had nearly completed a Quincy press conference last week when the question of gay marriage and abortions was raised.
Rauner said voters should be allowed to decide whether gay marriage should be recognized in Illinois. He also repeated his support for abortion rights.
Rauner's primary campaign could well come down to his stance on those social issues. Will Republicans support a candidate with whom they disagree? Are there enough conservatives who agree with Rauner to hand him the nomination?
There are other things that Rauner and his supporters hope work in his favor. Rauner is wealthy enough he can finance his own campaign if necessary. He is a successful businessman. He also has delivered campaign speeches that resonate with lots of conservatives -- more jobs, lower taxes, less regulation, better education and term limits.
Then there are those nagging reports about Rauner sending large campaign donations to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several other Democrats in Illinois and elsewhere. Rauner said it was his wife who contributed to Emily's List, a left-wing political action committee.
Rauner was burnishing his credentials as a political outsider during the visit to Quincy. He said it will take a reformer from outside of Illinois politics to fix what's broken in state government.
"Springfield is controlled by special interest groups that make their money from the government. They've bought most of the Democrats in Springfield with political donations and campaign workers, and unfortunately for us, those special interest groups have bought many of the Republicans in Springfield, too," Rauner said.
Did Rauner consider himself part of a special interest group when he sought out Emanuel in 2001 to help his firm buy a security company from SBC Communications?
Was Rauner an insider or special interest when contributing $300,000 to Ed Rendell, a Democrat who became governor of Pennsylvania? Rauner's firm was managing much of that state's pension funds at the time and doubled that stake after Rendell took office.
Republicans may take some comfort in knowing that Rauner and his wife have given more than $1.8 million to GOP candidates over more than a decade. But if Rauner believes that "most Democrats" and "many Republicans" have been bought, he needs to explain whether he felt that was what was happening when he contributed heavily to both groups.
The Rauner campaign message about reforming Illinois politics will undoubtedly resonate with lots of people. And if he makes it to the general election, his stance on social issues may help him win over moderate and independent voters.
He needs to make it past the March primary for any of that to matter and conservative voters are going to dominate the primary election. Rauner's political future will all come down to whether conservatives buy enough of his vision to overlook the things they don't like.