* After weeks of dodging this state’s political reporters, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is finally holding a press conference today…
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is set to face the press late this morning for a high-stakes question-and-answer session – his first open forum with reporters since acknowledging a month ago that he had misstated his military service during his campaign for Senate.
Kirk, once viewed as a favorite to defeat Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks as newspaper reports repeatedly unearthed misstatements about his biography – from claiming that he won the Intelligence Officer of the Year award when he did not, to overstating his experience as a teacher.
Last week, Kirk seemed to bottom out: In a scene belying his status as an accomplished and media-savvy member of Congress, he dashed out of a candidate forum with Giannoulias rather than answer reporters’ questions.
Today, though, he’ll take them head-on, and a strategist familiar with his plans said he intended to play offense too.
“Kirk will lay out the contrast in the race and the choice between his record and Alexi Giannoulias’s, speak to the big issues confronting the state of Illinois, announce policy speeches he will deliver over the course of the campaign, and acknowledge mistakes that have been made concerning his record,” the strategist said.
* I talked with a reporter at the presser who said Kirk has “filled the room with children and veterans.”
NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern is live blogging the event. An excerpt…
Cong Mark Kirk has a room full of close supporters at the Northbrook Renaissance Hotel, including Astronaut Jim Lovell and several veterans. The plan is for Kirk to give a short speech and then he’ll take questions from the press.
Outside a handful of young democratic protestors are wearing aprons that say “if you can’t stand heat run thru the kitchen,” referring to his jog away from press a week ago at the Chicago Hyatt.
Update in comments if you can. NBC5 says they’ll have video early this afternoon. Check back for updates.
* ABC7 is also covering the event…
US Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologized Tuesday for misstatements he made about his military career.
Kirk, who spoke at a news conference surrounded by campaign supporters, called the words ‘careless’ and vowed that it would not happen again.
When asked what he was thinking when he made the misstatements, Kirk replied “I was not thinking”.
* The AP’s lede…
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk says he’s sorry for being careless and making mistakes about his accomplishments.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From the Giannoulias campaign…
“In terms of hollow apologies and passive-voice blame-shifting, Congressman Mark Kirk’s acknowledgment of ‘misrememberings’ and ‘carelessness’ sets a new standard. Allow me to be blunt: Congressman Kirk wasn’t careless and he didn’t misremember - he lied. One mistake is careless. Misrepresenting, embellishing or not telling the truth about 10 different phases of your military career over a 10-year period is a pattern of lies, plain and simple. When these mistruths have been repeated on the floor of the House of Representatives, on a taxpayer-funded official website, in campaign television ads and materials, in press releases, on campaign websites, and from his own lips, Congressman Kirk’s web of lies can’t be fixed by one phony press conference.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** His excuse for dodging the media…
“I was overbooked last week,” Kirk said, by way of explaining why he wasn’t available.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Greg Hinz’s take…
Beyond his apology, Mr. Kirk also made it clear he’ll be doing something else different from now on: He released an advance campaign schedule through the July 4 weekend, something his campaign repeatedly refused to do, lest the Dems be tipped off to his plans.
So, will these mea culpas work?
Probably — provided that no other major questions arise about his record. […]
And, for whatever it’s worth, by the time the press conference was over, reporters were asking Mr. Kirk about things other than his résumé. For the moment at least, things have moved on.
I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the end of the embellishment stuff.
*** UPDATE 4 *** This looks positively Blagojevichian…
Kirk packed the press conference with a “Hallelujah chorus’’ of 100 supporters who heckled reporters and shouted “move on” when reporters pressed Kirk about his numerous mistakes on his military record. One supporter even harassed a Bloomberg news reporter after the conference.
*** UPDATE 5 *** WGN’s story…