MOLINE -- Paul Schimpf, the Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general, should be well prepared for the rough and tumble of Illinois politics.
In 2006, while serving in the Marines Corps, he was lead American attorney advising Iraqi prosecutors in the trial of Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Schimpf let out a laugh, which he admits he should not have, when the deposed dictator complained that a Rolex watch he'd worn when captured had been taken from him.
Mr. Hussein looked directly at Mr. Schimpf and pronounced, "The lion does not care about a monkey laughing at him from a tree."
Mr. Schimpf joked that he brings up the anecdote to anyone who suggest he might not be ready for the cutthroat world of Illinois politics.
The former Marine is from Waterloo, deep in southern Illinois, and describes himself as a conservative with an independent streak who was not recruited by party officials to run.
Mr. Schimpf faces tough odds in taking on incumbent Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
He called the "biggest threat" to the nation the "toxicity and venom in our politics" and promises to steer clear of mudslinging, even if that irks party officials.
"There are some consultants in the Republican Party that are saying you need to attack her (Ms. Madigan) personally and make the argument that she should be in jail," he said. "I don't believe that, and I'm not going to do that."
The 43-year-old has a law degree from Southern Illinois University and served 20 years in the Marine Corps. He spoke Thursday to the editorial board of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus.
He offered further evidence that he's not afraid to rock the boat when he criticized the effort spearheaded by Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner to introduce term limits.
Mr. Rauner is making a big push to amend the state constitution to allow term limits in place in Illinois.
But Mr. Schimpf said that instead "of wasting money" on the amendment campaign, Republicans should take the lead by making term limits a party policy.
The change would mean that Republicans in office would commit to only serving for two terms, Mr. Schimpf said, and after that, would either have to run for higher office or step down.
Mr. Schimpf did criticize Ms. Madigan for filing a friend of the court brief in the Hobby Lobby case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ms. Madigan filed the amicus brief to ask the court to uphold the Affordable Care Act regulations that would require employee health plans to cover contraception.
The owners of Hobby Lobby are seeking a religious exemption from the requirement because they believe some kinds of contraception are tantamount to abortion. Mr. Schimpf said he supports the challenge being made by Hobby Lobby.
He faces a huge financial disadvantage in his run against Ms. Madigan. The most recent fundraising reports available from the Illinois State Board of Elections showed that he had $5,250 cash on hand. Ms. Madigan had $4.7 million.
Despite the long odds, Mr. Schimpf said he felt it was his duty to run.
"It's the attorney general's job to be an independent voice for the citizens of Illinois," he said. "The politics in our state are broken and we need a transformation."
Today is Tuesday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2014. There are 71 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The weather is discouraging for our great Democratic rally tomorrow, but never mind that. Let our Rock Island people show they can make a big procession themselves, rain or shine. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Apparatus arrived for drilling an artesian well on the premises of George Warner's Atlantic Brewery. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German army continued its attacks on the allies line near the Belgian coast. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Zachert northwest of Buffalo Prairie, burned to the ground. 1964 -- 50 years ago: WVIK-FM, noncommercial educational radio station at Augustana College, will return to the air tomorrow. The station operates at a power of 10 watts at 90.9 megacycles on the frequency modulation band. The station is operated with a staff of 92 students. 1989 -- 25 years ago: An avenue of lights, 13 Christmas trees strung with more than 44,000 sparkling lights, will expand the Festival of Trees beyond the walls of RiverCenter in downtown Davenport in mid-November.