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Sen. Kirk returns to the State Fair

Friday, Aug 16, 2013

* Sen. Mark Kirk was a featured speaker at yesterday’s Republican Day festivities

Seven months after returning to Congress following a debilitating stroke, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk encouraged fellow Illinois Republicans Thursday to look to his example and “never give up” the quest to rebuild their party and recapture the governor’s mansion despite public embarrassments and setbacks.

“I will not ever give up on Illinois,” Kirk said, puncturing the air with his right index finger during a brief speech at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair.

It is clear that both Kirk and the state’s minority party have a difficult road ahead of them. Kirk is tasked with continued rehabilitation efforts as he makes his own re-election bid in 2016, and the Illinois GOP with projecting unity and offering an attractive alternative to Democrats at a time when the state is in dire financial straits. […]

Kirk, who is declining to make an endorsement in the governor’s race, told the Associated Press that he would be encouraging party members to “adhere to the eleventh commandment of Ronald Reagan.”

“Thou shalt,” Kirk said, “not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”

* More

In a nod to the difficult road ahead, Republicans waved signs and chanted: “Never Give Up.”

They saved their loudest applause for the man who inspired the mantra, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who won cheers as the congressman, who is recovering from a stroke, walked across the stage with the aid of a cane.

“We are the ones who are going to rescue Illinois,” Kirk said.

* More

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., called his first trip to Springfield since his January 2012 stroke “great,” and said he’s working on legislation to improve post-stroke treatment for low-income people through government programs.

“Every time I’m below I-80, I feel like I’m in the right place on earth, talking to the people I work for,” Kirk, 53, of Highland Park, told The State Journal-Register in an interview Thursday at the Illinois State Fair.

He said his condition is “excellent.” He walks with a cane and said “fatigue is an issue,” and he is still getting rehabilitation about three times a week.

Kirk said he is planning to offer legislation for what he calls “the stroke agenda.”

“The problem is, if you have no insurance and you’re low-income and you’re on Medicaid in Illinois, if you suffer a stroke, you only go to a rehab specialist four times,” the senator said. “That means you’re not going to really improve very much. I want to set a national standard that moves the country on the way to the opportunities that I had to recover.”

* I had a chance to chat with Sen. Kirk for a few minutes later in the day. He seemed very clear in the head, spoke well and was quite cheerful. He also said he plans to run for reelection. A photo…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - MrJM - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:44 am:


    – MrJM

  2. - The Dude Abides - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:45 am:

    “Say Rich, Is it because I just had brain surgery, or is that shirt as loud as it seems?”

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    Of topic — sad to the Trib. referring to Kirk as “the congressman” in the link. What’s happened to that newspaper??

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:47 am:

    MrJM is gonna be hard to top.

    TDA, I always wear tie-dye to GOP Day. I wore a tie-dyed t-shirt many years ago and was ribbed hard for it, so I decided I’d do it every year.

  5. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    *looks at shirt*

    “You must be from the pro-marijuana lobby…”

    *looks again*

    “Oh Hi, Rich! Didn’t recognize you…”

  6. - too obvious - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    Mark Kirk SHOULD be thrilled and happy. He gets best medical care in the world via U.S. taxpayers, even as he goes around complaining about Obamacare and tries to deny regular Americans the kind of care he gets.

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    No caption, but this is cool:

    –“The problem is, if you have no insurance and you’re low-income and you’re on Medicaid in Illinois, if you suffer a stroke, you only go to a rehab specialist four times,” the senator said. “That means you’re not going to really improve very much. I want to set a national standard that moves the country on the way to the opportunities that I had to recover.”–

    Equal health care opportunities for all; sounds like a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. Nothing wrong with that.

  8. - zatoichi - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Man, I really need something on a stick. Whata you suggest?

  9. - Bluefish - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Rich’s shirt looks like the result of Jack Dorgan throwing the 4 candidates in the blender without the lid on it.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    1) great to see Sen. Kirk.

    2) MrJM, you set the bar “wicked high”

  11. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    Rich, you double-bogeyed with that shirt.

  12. - 60611 - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    Great to see the senator doing well. We could do without the whole “south of I-80 … right place on earth … people I work for,” though.

  13. - Barton Lorimor - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 12:30 pm:


    “The problem is, if you have no insurance and you’re low-income and you’re on Medicaid in Illinois, if you suffer a stroke, you only go to a rehab specialist four times,” the senator said.


    If you cannot regain what you lost in a stroke within a year after an event, then the chances of getting it back at all are slim to none. I won’t say it’s impossible because every patient is different, but in many cases even a year is being generous.

    This is an especially important issue because it is now possible for low-income patients of any age in Illinois to receive only two hours of rehabilitation after a stroke.

    If my parents did not have the ability to send me to therapy sessions in the weeks after I was born, I would not have been able to even open my right hand. The sessions for that task alone required more than two hours.

    Furthermore, where does occupational therapy fit into these limited number of sessions if at all? Occupational therapy without professional help is not only dangerous, but it’s just that: unprofessional. It’s very easy to pickup bad habits that are harmful in the long term. It’s also very easy for a patient to overlook just how much he or she can do, become discouraged, or not train enough before going back to work (that is if they still can).

    If people cannot get adequate professional help in their most desperate hour, then they face the very real dilemma of having to decide what motor skill they should sacrifice first. How are they supposed to improve their financial situation if they are facing even more challenges than they did beforehand?

    Of course our budget situation in Illinois makes paying for medical services a challenge or forces us to cut elsewhere. I look forward to hearing more from the Senator. I think he also deserves thanks for being open about his own rehabilitation to the point where he’s allowed himself to be filmed during what can be a very emotional time.

    And to the post: MrJM wins.

  14. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 3:31 pm:

    Really wonderful to see the Senator make a cheerful, upbeat return in his appearance there. As I’ve commented before, unless he wilfully chooses to step down from his Seat, and I don’t recall seeing or hearing anything about that, I think Mark Kirk is probably a shoe-in for re-election time and again. Illinoisans, far and wide, seem now to really admire him (and understandably so) for his comeback prowess, persistence, and tenacity despite his well-known previous and extremely serious health setback–all important traits in a popular Political Leader (kind of like FDR, as a rough analogy)–even if they may on occasion not concur with some of his positions on certain issues…! I hope he had a great time!

  15. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    Caption: “U.S. Sen. is warmly greeted by Illinoisans as he makes a grand return to the 2013 Illinois State Fair, while, by his own admission to a fellow Fair-Goer, deliberately tries to ignore and avoid looking at the gentleman wearing the ‘Rutherford for Governor’ T-Shirt!”

  16. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Aug 16, 13 @ 3:45 pm:

    By the way, as opposed to those “Ribbers” from the Past, I personally happen to really LIKE the look of that old, tie-dyed shirt on that (actually highly Popular, well-known) “fellow Fair-Goer!” Nice Pick of T-shirt–and for the reason you stated–even a BETter TraDITion to carry ON year after year! Way to go!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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