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*** UPDATED x5 *** Mark Kirk finally faces the media

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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


  1. - tubbfan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    * I talked with a reporter at the presser who said Kirk has “filled the room with children and veterans.”

    Kirk has learned well from Blago. . .

  2. - conservative - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    Will Ed Marshall say Kirk has been pilloried! It’s time to move on? Or will this silly gotcha crap continue?

  3. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 11:48 am:

    ABC7 reports, “When asked what he was thinking when he made the misstatements, Kirk replied “I was not thinking”.”

    Kirk admits he was not thinking the entire time he’s been a Washington insider in Congress (10 years)???

    He’s just digging the hole deeper.

  4. - Anonymiss - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 11:59 am:

    Jim Lovell? Wait, is Kirk saying he was an astronaut too?! [”I was careless when I misspoke before, but now I’m proud to introduce my former colleague in space, Jim Lovell…”]

  5. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 12:00 pm:

    Oh come on, the guy is only sorry he got caught. It’s just more dishonesty for Kirk to imply it was “carelessness” or “mistakes.”

    He deliberately made things up because he thought it would be helpful politically. And I’m sure there is more out there.

    His credibility is gone. Only the most gullible will believe anything he says going forward.

    And thanks for this smile,“if you can’t stand heat run thru the kitchen.” Clever.

  6. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 12:18 pm:

    He has part of this correct, face the media and apologize. Running and hiding is never a good thing while running for senate..or any office. It is still early enough to recover.

    I think Kirks lies are less destructive than Ali G’s.

    Kirk did serve. Ali G was or was not a vp with his family bank that loaned money to the mob.

    Man up Kirk.

  7. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 12:25 pm:

    But this will start to wind the story down on this, in the middle of summer vs Alexi testifying at the Rod trial (assuming they do call him) and the fodder that will provide.

    Best to start getting this over now Mark, you don’t want overlap with the Alexi stuff in the Rod Show…

  8. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 12:29 pm:

    Better late than never. More than a month of horrible headlines have taken a toll, but this should help put it behind him.

    I understand having veterans there, but what’s with the kids?

  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 12:45 pm:

    “I was not thinking” time and time again over many years?

    For Kirk’s sake, I hope it works better for him than it has with my wife.

  10. - Verdicto - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 12:50 pm:

    What does the media dislike more?
    A lying candidate who runs from them or a lyin candidate who is available to them but packs the room full of sympathetic partisans who try and shout the media down?

  11. - Anonymiss - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:12 pm:

    “Careless” … “I was not thinking.”

    So to summarize, when he WAS thinking, he was wildly careless. All other times, there was no thought whatsoever. Good traits for a Senator.

  12. - the dark horse - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:20 pm:

    The claim that he avoided reporters because he was “overbooked” is, by itself, an exageration if not a blatant lie. This guy just cannot come clean with ANYTHING.

  13. - Team America - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:22 pm:

    === Kirk packed the press conference with a “Hallelujah chorus’’ of 100 supporters ===

    I was at the press conference and not once did any supporter ever shout “Hallelujah”.

    What Kirk did signal, though, is that he’s wisely going to stick to the ‘facts’ of his military record, and ever time from now on that the embellishment issue is raised, he’s simply going to say, ‘OK, let’s look at the facts in my record and compare them to Alexi.’

    I think Alexi is very soon going to be looking for a new attack line after a few repeats of having Kirk’s record (which no one claims is lacking in honorable service) back in Alexi’s face.

  14. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:25 pm:

    Hard to believe the press would be okay with Kirk packing the room with a bunch of shills to try and bully down embarrassing questions. From the NBC-5 liveblog:

    “(Crowd cheers “move on, move on” when Kirk is asked repeatedly about his embellishments.)”

  15. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:26 pm:

    - One supporter even harassed a Bloomberg news reporter after the conference. -

    I’ve been wondering why shore hasn’t been commenting on this story.

  16. - the dark horse - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:27 pm:

    I wish that were true, Team America. However, I am skeptical that Kirk will seek to run on a record. Rather, he will seek to run on the Braodway Bank issue- a non-issue in the eyes of this independent voter.

  17. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:37 pm:

    Way to miss the point Falbe/TA.

    The fact that you and 100 other Kirk water carriers were even there to shout “move on” on cue was what Rich was getting at.

    Sadly for Kirk acolytes such as yourself, he yet again admitted to being dunce saying he “wasn’t thinking” … for a decade.

    What’s your excuse for not thinking? ;)

  18. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    Now that Kirk has apologized for embellishing his resume, when will Alexi do the same for the hundreds of millions of dollars his bank cost the taxpayers since he has no resume to embellish?

  19. - Team America - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    I was there to report for my blog, Rob, not shout anything.

    I agree that people in the audience shouldn’t shout anything at the press in response to their questions (no matter how repetitive they are), especially if they are Kirk supporters; it doesn’t help and Kirk handled the press corps just fine by himself this morning.

  20. - the dark horse - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    Could someone please explain to me what Broadway Bank did that most other banks in America did not do? It seems to me there are TONS of banks that have been taken over by the government, and I don’t know what BB did that makes it unique– and that does not even reach the question of what blame Ali G should have in it. I would love to hear Brady and Kirk give some concrete details on their various economic plans, but so far I have only heard rhetoric.

  21. - Verdicto - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:48 pm:

    Team America–
    Do most Kirk supporters believe he lied or do they believe he was careless?

  22. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:49 pm:


    Kirk held a campaign rally and a press conference broke out. A month ago he said scrutiny of his military record was an “attack”. Now he says scrutiny is appropriate.

    The guy also admitted he hasn’t been thinking for his entire Congressional career (and half his military career). That’s a ringing endorsement there, that is.

    Is Kirk running out of fans in the media (has he hired them all for his campaign staff?) that he had to invite bloggers to “report” on his spin?

  23. - bored now - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:49 pm:

    (i wasn’t going to comment on this thread because i’m thrilled that kirk finally took a couple of questions, but:)

    Team America: the very fact that mark kirk felt he needed to pack his press conference with supporters who sought to badger and intimidate the press demonstrates what a lightweight kirk is. it’s obvious that he can’t handle a difficult environment, and illinois would be ill-served by having such an easily intimidated (and easily manipulated) senator. since you seem to know the congressman, you might suggest he grow a pair…

  24. - Team America - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:54 pm:

    Bored Now - I don’t plan the pressers, but I’ll be sure to pass along your constructive criticism.

    Verdicto, I think it’s fair to say that many Kirk fans are disappointed at this turn of events, but everyone I have talked to who supports Kirk is more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s earned that, and more, over the last 10 years.

  25. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:02 pm:


    Are your fellow Kirkies disappointed at the turn of events involving him being called out on his lies or the turn of events of him having lied to us for the past decade?

    And given that Kirk has been lying to his constituents “over the last 10 years” what benefit of our doubts, exactly, do you think he’s earned?

    (PS - on another topic, it’s little wonder that you also ardently support conservative Bob Dold to replace Mark Kirk. Turns out they seem to be peas in an embellished pod.)

  26. - MikeMacD - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:03 pm:

    “give him the benefit of the doubt”

    I’m not aware of any doubts as to the falsehoods attributed to Rep. Kirk. Not even Rep. Kirk makes any assertions of doubts.

  27. - Team America - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:04 pm:

    Nesvacil (since we’re now on last name basis) - we’re definitely disappointed that instead of a rout of Giannoulias, this has become a tighter race. But we’ll win in the end. Alexi just doesn’t have what it takes.

  28. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:14 pm:

    - the dark horse - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    “Could someone please explain to me what Broadway Bank did that most other banks in America did not do?”

    Other than lend money to the mob, and take government money which went directly to Alexi and his family, Broadway Bank made many bad loans and used brokered high interest accounts as its financial base. Extraordinarily bad moves for a bank. There are about 7000 FDIC insured banks in the US. About 90 have failed in 2010.

  29. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    In my post above, it should read government BAILOUT money

  30. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:21 pm:

    Falbe/TA/whatever you like,

    “Alexi just doesn’t have what it takes.”

    Nor does Kirk. If he did he wouldn’t need a security blanket (errr, Blago-style “hallelujah chorus”) to avoid answering questions by the “move on” media.

    Not only did Kirk need his security blanket but this campaign event was only a few blocks from Kirk’s HQ just in case his campaign folks couldn’t drown out the media.

    Was there a kitchen next to the room Kirk was in?

  31. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:24 pm:


    Get your facts straight.

    What evidence do you have that Alexi Giannoulias or anyone in his family “took” government bailout money?

    The Bush TARP program was designed for banks much larger than the Giannoulias family’s community bank. No gov’t money there.

    The FDIC program is privately-funded through the banking industry. No gov’t money there either.

    Where’s the evidence for your lie?

  32. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:28 pm:

    PS - Cinci,

    About half a dozen banks in Illinois also failed the same day Broadway was taken over through the FDIC.

    And most of the community banks that are going under are doing so for exactly the same reasons — loans that the banks had made went south.

    It’s that pattern of small business loans going bad that is also freezing up credit whereby community banks that are still alive aren’t lending to small businesses, excacerbating the economic doldrums.

    And, all of that, is why Republicans like Kirk and his would-be replacement Bob Dold in the 10th, make no sense when they claim they want to “ease” credit for small businesses.


  33. - tikkunolam - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:28 pm:

    -(no matter how repetitive they are)-

    TA, the Kirk camp doesn’t have a lot of room to talk about this one:

  34. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:33 pm:

    - Where’s the evidence for your lie? -

    He’s referencing the Kirk ads that say the same thing.

  35. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:51 pm:

    Small Town Lib, We already know Mark Kirk lies.

    Why is Cincinattus repeating Kirk’s lies?

    Is he, like Kirk, “not thinking”?

  36. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:03 pm:

    No doubt you will say that it is okay that Alexi took these tax breaks. Of course, you also complained when Brady used the tax code to his advantage.

    The FDIC is underfunded and is now being backed by the Treasury:

  37. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:30 pm:


    Not even Brady got a tax refund when his business operated at a loss. He simply didn’t pay taxes and was able to carry over, using a loophole, that lack of tax debt into the next year as well even though he did have positive income.

    And “refund” is the operative word.

    One gets a refund when one overpays on their taxes.

    I’m not sure where that Crain’s reporter got his talking points. Crain’s has been known to be sympathetic to Kirk in the past so who knows. (Heck, in his column today Greg Hinz quoted the Kirk supporters’ “move on” mantra without bothering to attribute it to them.)

    The Giannoulias family paid $40 million in taxes, but apparently overpaid on those taxes. That’s where the refund comes from — not from Broadway going under.

    When you overpay on taxes you get a refund whether you’re a joe blow named Cincinattus or a former community banker like Giannoulias or a wealthy State Senator like Bill Brady.

    But getting a refund after overpaying taxes is quite a bit different than Bill Brady taking advantage of a loophole to avoid paying taxes in the first place.

  38. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:09 pm:

    =Do most Kirk supporters believe he lied or do they believe he was careless?=

    That’s an interesting question. The Republican “strategist” who has been referenced in today’s articles might want to consider looking into that.

    My guess would be that many believe he lied, but would be willing to “forgive” based on an apology.

    IMO, though, the original “responses” to the accusations seem to be most damaging (e.g., statements made that seemed to “force” the DOD into responding with clarifications, or what some might consider “hubris” on the campaign’s part in believing that the DOD wouldn’t respond or would respond with a full verification of the “truthiness” that had been provided).

    It’s one thing to fib or lie, apologize, and then hope for “forgiveness”. Responding to a fib or lie with another “spin”–especially one that puts “someone” else on the spot, is troubling and does not build trust.

  39. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:14 pm:

    This isn’t interesting. This isn’t news.

  40. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:15 pm:

    Furthermore, whether true or not, it reeks of the “ambiguity” that seems to have haunted Kirk throughout his entire career.

    It leaves one under the impression that if Kirk tells the truth, the Campaign will lie to keep everyone guessing. And if Kirk lies, the Campaign will tell the truth to keep everyone guessing.

    Today’s response (aside from the “scripted” chanting and “encouter(s)” with the press seem timely and effective. However, I hope they realize that they’re not “out of the woods” yet and that it’s going to take alot of effort to get even some staunch supporters back.

  41. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:18 pm:

    It may not be news, V-Man, but there seem to be ongoing rammifications at this point that may continue regardless of whether they’re discussed in the media or not.

  42. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:19 pm:

    VanillaMan, go bite yourself.

  43. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:21 pm:

    I think it was the Washington Post, maybe, that asked whether all of this was “too little too late”. Probably not that dire because of the amount of time left, but people are right: it’s caused quite a bit of damage in an area that’s normally difficult to rebuild.

  44. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:28 pm:

    V-Man, while I’m done on this topic because I don’t want to be accused of “doing harm”, I have to say that my impression of what this blog seems to have a great reputation for is “calling it the way we see it”–even when we don’t like what we we’re saying.

    “Credibility” in other words.

  45. - the dark horse - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:41 pm:

    Cincy, thanks for mentioning the mob. Let me ask you this: is there any legitimate basis to conclude that BB KNEW these borrowers were in the mob? Because if not, I don’t see why it’s relevant. I PROMISE you there are mobsters in Chicago who have bank accounts or loans with a variety of banks. Why, even the precious Tribune probably has subscribers that are mobsters; should that reflect on the Tribune? No, but for some reason the Tribune does not extend that courtesy to Ali G.

  46. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:21 pm:

    Cincy, the FDIC has been backed by the Treasury since its inception. Kind of the point.

    If you’re looking for a poster child for the financial meltdown, Alexi and his bank are small potatoes. Reckless, but small.

  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:31 pm:

    Here’s an example, V-Man. Just released by the AP:

    “When a blogger disclosed a Defense Department memo referring to Kirk being “counseled” for political activity while on duty, the Kirk campaign said the memo was “off the mark” and that he had never violated Pentagon policies. His campaign called the document “a baseless political ploy.”

  48. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 30, 10 @ 8:41 am:


    The FDIC is currently under water. Member banks have groused at the proposed increase in fees. This makes the Treasury and the taxpayers responsible (at this time) for losses of the member banks. I have not seen any “borrowing” scheme yet floated to provide the FDIC with solvency. Looks like that makes the taxpayer on the hook for FDIC loses.

    the dark horse,

    Alexi was the chief loan officer at his bank and bankrolled Michael “Jaws” Giorango, the Stratievskys, Demitri Stavropoulos, and has ties to Rezko. Other than that, no problem, I guess.

  49. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 30, 10 @ 9:20 am:

    Cincy, as far as I can tell, the last time the FDIC borrowed from the Treasury was in the S&L failures of the 90s. It was short term and they paid it back after the assets were sold.

    From what I understand, if need be, that is the plan now, but it has not happened, so they’re not “under water” and taxpayers haven’t contributed a dime to the insurance fund.

    As far as the big banks grousing about higher premiums I say “boo” to which I’d add “hoo.” They don’t have to participate if they don’t want to, and they can give up their discount window privileges as well. Let’s see how much they really like laissez faire.

    No defense of Alexi’s bank. But there’s no shame in checking some facts, either.

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