SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A day after democrats rallied on the state fairgrounds, republican politicians gathered in Springfield to kick off the fall campaign season.

On Thursday, the focus on republican politics gave the state’s GOP leaders a platform and an opportunity to speak about the future of the party, but what was said may not be as important as what wasn’t.

“Politics is about the future, not about the past,” U.S. Rep. Darrin LaHood said.

At the a gathering of Illinois republicans talked about the upcoming 2024 election without mentioning the name of the party’s leading candidate for president.

“I think what we’re focused on in is the corruption playing out in the federal courthouse up in Chicago right now,” Rep. Curran said.

When asked directly about former President Trump and the grievous charges he faces in four separate indictments, Illinois Senate Republican leader John Curran pivoted to alleged democratic misconduct in Illinois: the trial of former house speaker mike Madigan’s chief of staff Tim Mapes.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is pulling apart the corrupt Illinois democratic apparatus that has dominated the state and has taken us down a bad path,” Sen. Curran said.

Tony McCombie, the Illinois House Republican leader, was the first to use Trump’s name, but only to say he should not be the focus of Illinois politics.

“I’m always so curious as to why it’s always about Donald Trump. Here we are in Illinois, let’s talk about Illinois,” Rep. McCombie said.

There was visible support for the former president at a picnic on Thursday despite the allegations that he orchestrated a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“I believe an indictment does not prove that your guilty,” Republican voter Paul Hofmann said. “I would like to see a change in venue. All of this is politics and politics can be a very brutal sport.”

“It just makes our feeling stronger. We’re committed,” Republican voter Suzette Swift said. “They’re going to keep attacking him any way they can and we knew that from the beginning. It doesn’t change a thing.”

At the rally not a single speaker on stage mentioned the former president by name, but McCombie took direct aim at Gov. Pritzker, who a day earlier condemned the GOP as a party of conspiracy theories and lies.

“Here’s the game, everyone,” Gov. JB Pritzker said. “Republicans think that if they lie about something often enough, if they deny the truth long enough, maybe we will start to believe their lies. The problem is this: here in Illinois, we have a low tolerance for (explicit).”

“‘Democrats’ tolerance for (explicit) might be low, but their tolerance for corruption is apparently sky high,” Rep. McCombie said.

Throughout the day on Thursday, republicans laid out their strategy to be competitive in Illinois again: focus on the suburbs, engage small donors, and encourage early voting and voting by mail.

The republican party chairman acknowledged that rebuilding the party won’t happen overnight.

In Illinois, all six statewide offices and the state’s two U.S. Senate seats are currently held by democrats.