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*** UPDATED x1 - White House responds *** Reporters focus on stroke angle, Dems hit race angle

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth labeled U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk “unhinged” over the Republican’s comparison of President Barack Obama to “drug dealer in chief” for a $400 million payment made to Iran as U.S. hostages were released.

While Kirk has been under fire for a series of verbal gaffes, it was Duckworth’s harsh choice of words that came under question Tuesday. The two-term congresswoman assigned to Kirk a term defined as “mentally deranged.” The first-term senator suffered a major stroke in 2012 and spent a year in rehabilitation.

Asked by reporters if voters should take into consideration any possible aftereffects of her opponent’s stroke, Duckworth backed off.

“That is the furthest thing that people should look at. People should look at the fact that he’s been ineffective as a senator,” she said after a speech to a largely supportive audience of about 300 at the City Club of Chicago.

Kirk’s campaign called Duckworth’s remarks “desperate.”

If you watch the video of the press conference, reporters asked Duckworth again and again about whether she believed Kirk’s stroke had anything to do with his remarks.

* More

The criticism, Duckworth said, was not a reference to Kirk’s capabilities following a debilitating stroke. […]

“If you look at all of the things that he said, I think that he lacks the ability to control what he’s saying. If you look at the numerous gaffes he’s had over the years,” Duckworth said Tuesday after she addressed the City Club of Chicago. “I do think he is unhinged. To call the commander in chief, basically comparing him to a drug dealer? I think that is a significant thing for a state Senator to say. This is a man who called one of his colleagues ‘a bro with no ho.’ It’s not befitting of a United States Senator.”

Duckworth said she wasn’t telling voters they should judge Kirk based on the ill effects of a 2012 stroke, but consider him on his record.

“I think that is the furthest thing that people should look at. People should look at that he’s been ineffective as a senator,” she said. “I’m traveling the state. He’s not even traveling the state.”

* Mark Brown

I don’t think anyone needs to raise the issue of Kirk’s health or whether he lacks an “ability to control” what he says to question whether that’s what they want from their U.S. senator.

Judge the man by his performance, one important aspect of which is the outlandish stuff that he says.

* The Democratic Party of Illinois, however, focused on the racial angle, releasing statements from several elected officials, including these three legislators…

State Senator Toi Hutchinson: “Mark Kirk may be running away from his party to save his seat, but his characterization of Barack Obama as the ‘drug dealer’ demonstrates that he is embracing Trumps racial strategies to delegitimize an African American president. Here’s my message to Kirk: Stop using racial code words, because you know African Americans can hear you, right? And to us it sounds just like when Newt Gingrich called Obama the ‘Food Stamp President.’ You are coming through loud and clear.”

State Representative Christian Mitchell: “Senator Mark Kirk needs to apologize immediately for his inappropriate and racially-charged comments about President Obama, which offend not only African-Americans, but all Illinoisans. This is, sadly, not the first time Senator Kirk has delivered a racially motivated remark beneath the dignity of his office, including when he said people ‘drive faster through’ black neighborhoods. For those of us - of all races - who live in those neighborhoods, we need a Senator who fights for our community, rather than insulting it.”

State Representative Marcus C. Evans Jr: “Republican Mark Kirk should apologize immediately for his degrading and racially-charged remarks calling President Obama ‘the drug dealer in chief.’ It’s disgusting that a United States Senator would stoop this low but given Kirk’s history of making offensive comments about women and communities of color, I’m hardly surprised.”

* Sen. Kirk was in Quincy today and he was asked about his comments

Kirk stated that he does not feel a need to apologize for his statement towards President Obama and feels his recent actions are “distasteful”.

*** UPDATE *** The White House press secretary was asked about this today…

Chicago Tribune’s Katherine Skiba: Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois recently said that President Obama was acting like the drug dealer in chief with the respect of the payment of $400 million to Iran. Is the President aware of that statement and does the White House have a response?

WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest: “Well listen, this is not the first time that we’ve heard that kind of rhetoric from Senator Kirk, and I don’t think that kind of rhetoric is consistent with the views of most people in Illinois about the efforts of President Obama to advance our interests around the world and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“And so, I know there’s a temptation, particularly for those politicians that are on the ballot to say outrageous things to try to get attention, but that’s certainly no way to run a country and it’s certainly no way to confront issues that are as important as preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, securing the safe return of U.S. Americans that are detained unjustly overseas and settling a 35-year-old financial dispute with an adversary of the United States in a way that saves taxpayers potentially billions of dollars.”

Video is here.


  1. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:41 am:

    He was an embarrassment pre-stroke and he’s still one. The man has never been fit for office.

  2. - Chicago_Downstater - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:43 am:

    Arguing that the actions of the President’s Administration were “distasteful” is one thing. Calling the President the “Drug Dealer in Chief” is another. Kirk just needs to buck up and apologize for his “distasteful” name calling.

  3. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:46 am:

    Pre-stroke, post-stroke, Senator Kirk and his staff have always played to the crowds and the polls. A lot of similarities, too, between his approach and that of the Governor seeing how many from the Kirk staff crossed over.

  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:46 am:

    Quite a range between “drug dealer in chief” and “distasteful.”

    Kirk had crazy mouth long before his stroke.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:50 am:

    The common theme in these looks at Kirk, one by the media, the other by the Democrats, are focusing on the “fit-ness” of Mark Kirk, and the way Sen. Kirk has been responding lately allows these discussion to pile on each other.

    Sen. Kirk alone is bringing these types of “scrutinities” in different avenues but allowing the one theme to continue.

    Until Kirk, in these last 70+ odd days left, decides, personally, to tone down words and phrases that allow these “scrutinies” to exist, all these days left might be discussion after discussion on the “fit-ness” of Kirk.

    Those type of discussions won’t help any candidate win.

  6. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:53 am:

    Dear Duckworth Campaign,

    When your opponent is beating himself, let him.

    – MrJM

  7. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:54 am:

    Vote for Tammy, a middling less offensive gaffe machine. Sadly, no snark intended.

  8. - GraduatedCollegeStudent - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 11:58 am:

    Mark, your comments might work if you were running to be a member of the Knesset for Likud. You aren’t though, you’re running for the United States Senate.

  9. - A guy - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:02 pm:

    Whoever makes the last stupid gaffe….loses.

    Neither of these two can just let a stink bomb sit there and stink. It’s like they have a co-dependency to keep each other from winning or losing. Weird.

  10. - Gartner - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:03 pm:

    So Tammy was in Dallas after the shootings, huh. Ok. Let’s see how that one plays out.

  11. - m - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:07 pm:

    Did any of these stories focus on their voting records or legislation? You know, what the job of a Senator or Rep actually is. Nope, just what each of them said about someone else.
    Is this part of why so many people don’t care to vote at all? Or is the choice to do these stories because no one cares about voting or what the actual jobs of Senators and Reps are?

  12. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:17 pm:

    I wish that Sen. Kirk had used the “Drug Dealer in Chief” title for President Obama because the prez had done or said something relevant to the title, like calling for de-scheduling of cannabis to give it treatment similar to alcohol and tobacco.

    Look at the cannabis revenues in Colorado and Washington state. Toni Preckwinkle must realize that Cook County alone would likely generate more cannabis revenue than those two states combined.

  13. - Joe Biden Was Here - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:24 pm:

    Wondering who advised Kirk that attacking Obama would help him win a statewide race in Illinois.

  14. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:28 pm:

    So the ineffective Rep wants the job of the ineffective Senator. Whee, this is fun.

  15. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:30 pm:

    Everyone remembers all the nonsense that fell out of CommandoMakeItUp’s mouth before the medical issues. The examples are legion. Let’s not slip p here. The guy cannot get his own majority to agree to pass a bill that reforms FEMA funding — a task about as complicated as affixing a pre-glued stamp to an envelope.

  16. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:34 pm:

    I have to question Kirk’s sanity or sense. This is Obama’s home state. Control of the Senate hangs in the balance, which has massive implications. Does he want to lose so much?

  17. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 12:52 pm:

    I’m surprised that Sen. Kirk hasn’t asked Rep. Duckworth to distance herself from Hilla

  18. - Huh? - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 1:00 pm:

    Hickory - the $400 million was cash owed to the Iranians for a weapons purchase that fell through in the late 1970’s.

    No guns, pay the money back. Get over it.

  19. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    ry Clinton’s campaign in the same manner Duckworth did with Kirk for Trump. There are surely enough problems there to offend GOP supporters and others, from the e-mails & server issues to fundraising appearance transcripts to all the dictators and Royal families donating to the Clinton foundation surely because of its good works…..

    But I can’t wait until Rep. Duckworth quotes Sen. Kirk’s calls to put missiles on commercial passenger jets.

  20. - Northsider - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 1:33 pm:

    @ Kasich Walker, Jr.: Thanks for playing False Analogy FAIL. Feel free to try again with something just slightly less laughable.

  21. - Rabid - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    90% of the poppies grow in afganistan,we have been there for 15 years,children are overdosing,what does he know?

  22. - atsuishin - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 2:15 pm:

    No apologies. This PC outrage from Tammy is BS. Obama is a big boy he can handle it. Also criticism of Obama is not tantamount to criticism of black people. Calling Obama a name (even a nasty one) does not transform you into a racist.

  23. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    “Calling Obama a name (even a nasty one) does not transform you into a racist.”

    Kirk’s record of… let’s call them curious statements with regard to black folks provided the context for the “drug dealer in chief” comment.

    – MrJM

  24. - sideline watcher - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 3:14 pm:

    Noooo….of course there has been no racism in the words used to describe the First Family. Of course not. Not in the birtherism. Not in the demand to see his transcripts to prove he belonged in an Ivy League school. Not when he was called the Food Stamp president. You can call him anything you want because just saying it doesn’t make you racist. As a matter of fact, when you say racist stuff all you have to do is tell the person that called you on it that THEY are playing the race card. See how that works?

    OK. I understand fully.

  25. - Albany Park Patriot - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 3:15 pm:

    I think it’s hilarious that we are debating whether “drug dealer in chief” is racist. Are there any other ways that Kirk could make the same point? About a million. But he chose one with thick racial connotations. I’m tired of the PC police who come calling when you call out racism for what it is: Racism.

  26. - sideline watcher - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 3:16 pm:

    Oh…one more that will really get the anti PC crowd good and defensive…

    Wanna know what white men called grown Black men for centuries?


  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 3:21 pm:

    To the White House update,

    That’s how an effective Press Shop defuses the rhetoric and embarrasses the person saying ridiculous things. Putting in perspective and framing Kirk as they did, ugh. They dismissed Kirk by ridiculing the comment and the context of where and why it was said.

    Pretty good shop, that White House has…

    Kirk Krew,

    Please, do better.

  28. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 3:27 pm:

    Everytime Mark Kirk opens his mouth I get happier about the thought of voting against him.

  29. - Doug Simpson - Wednesday, Aug 24, 16 @ 4:51 pm:

    He had great taxpayer funded healthcare to recover from his stroke. Then he followed the party line to deny it to anyone else. All cloaked in *xtianity*.

    I give Trump credit. He has called out the Right Wing Nut Jobs.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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