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Kirk’s debate comment called “racist” and “despicable”

Thursday, Oct 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tammy Duckworth has often said that her ancestors are soldiers going all the way back to the American Revolution. She said it again during the US Senate debate tonight and this is how Sen. Mark Kirk responded…

“I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

* Video

* Duckworth’s response…

* From the DSCC

Senator Mark Kirk’s attack on Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s family tonight was offensive, wrong and racist. Senator Kirk has been caught lying about his military record over ten times, but he was quick to launch false attacks questioning Congresswoman Duckworth’s family’s long history of serving our country. A struggling political campaign is no excuse for baseless and despicable attacks, and Senator Kirk owes Congresswoman Duckworth and her family an apology.

…Adding… Transcript put into context, which really makes this so much worse…

* Video

…Adding More… From Eleni Demertzis, spokesperson for the Kirk campaign…

“Senator Kirk has consistently called Rep. Duckworth a war hero and honors her family’s service to this country. But that’s not what this debate was about. Rep. Duckworth lied about her legal troubles, was unable to defend her failures at the VA and then falsely attacked Senator Kirk over his record on supporting gay rights.”

Um, OK…


  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 7:50 pm:

    The question now is… was that a rehearsed vile shot or spontaneous, flippant, ignorance?

    I still can’t believe he said it.

  2. - Annonin' - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:08 pm:

    Time for the math quiz for CommandoMakeItUp

  3. - Wensicia - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:09 pm:

    He didn’t need to go there. This hurts Kirk, not Duckworth.

  4. - Daniel Plainview - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:15 pm:

    Gidwitz: “Can I come out of the corner now, Bruce?”

  5. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:17 pm:

    Once again Kirk goes for the Trump voters.

  6. - Responsa - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:19 pm:

    I don’t know that one can necessarily call that a a racist comment by Kirk, But it sure as heck was a stupid one.

  7. - GV - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:26 pm:

    Faux outrage? I’m a Son of the American Revolution, a GWOT vet, married to an immigrant. There is nothing fake about this outrage. This wasn’t even dog whistle politics. This was undisguised racism slung at a veteran who has given more to this country than you should be asked of any 10 Americans at the least. Tbere is nothing fake about this outrage.

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:30 pm:

    ===Faux outrage? ===

    Too late. I already deleted him. lol

  9. - DuPage - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:34 pm:

    What was he thinking?!?

  10. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:40 pm:

    The silence after he said it was amazing. Never seen anything like it.

  11. - ILPundit - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 8:59 pm:

    I had thought the Trib editorial knock on his health was a low blow. This has changed my mind. He’s clearly not right.

  12. - G'Kar - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:16 pm:

    I am really not that impressed with Duckworth the politician. But, she won my vote tonight. Kirk, that comment is indefensible and tells me that you are not worthy of being in the Senate. Character does matter.

  13. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:24 pm:

    That’s gonna leave a Mark. Back here in IL come January.

  14. - Dumbfounded - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:25 pm:

    The depth and breadth of the craziness this election season is staggering. I have very strong political beliefs, but I have come to respect more the people on the other side of the aisle this election who were descent people. Seems like there is a lack of that this season.

  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:26 pm:

    He is unfit to hold office.

  16. - Johnny's in the Basement - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:39 pm:

    Kirk is toast. Thank goodness he will be gone soon ando forgotten soon after that. There’s no place for that type of talk. He can’t walk it back.

  17. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:48 pm:

    Truly reprehensible. And in the context of what she had just said about the service of her family, truly, mind-bogglingly idiotic. This is why his friends wanted him to retire with dignity instead of expose himself to the rigors of a campaign.

    Goodbye Mark.

  18. - Frustrated Millenial - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 9:52 pm:

    Honestly, between this, Trump, Rauner, and the GOP threatening to just let the Supreme Court seat go vacant if Hillary becomes president and to be equally as obstructionist, I don’t see how I can ever vote for a GOP candidate again. They just don’t seem to care about actually governin’ anymore…

    And in my mind the “moderate” wing of the GOP is complicit in this unless they actually split with whatever vile cancer has grown in that party.

  19. - Macbeth - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:05 pm:

    Good god.

    Go away, Kirk. Stay away.

    Trump, too. And Rauner.

  20. - Oneman - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:06 pm:

    I think he at the very least lost the argument the stroke didn’t have an impact on his cognitive skills, and that is giving him the benefit of a lot of doubt….

    Because why would a guy who in some ways is a really moderate Republican (heck my local GOP org passed a resolution censuring him for not being Republican enough) think saying this was in any way, shape or form a good idea.

  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:07 pm:

    I don’t think it was planned. I think it was the latest installment of legendary spontaneous Kirk Crazy Mouth, that dates long before his stroke.

    Kirk has tried to make a political living on his wildly embellished military service record. He could get away with that against Seals and Alexi, who did not have any service records at all.

    I think it drives Kirk crazy to be actually running against a bona-fide combat war hero who’s lucky to be alive. Who’s also a woman. And, as he helpfully pointed out today, has some Thai heritage.

    That must really sting for a North Shore white dude who has conjured up such vivid, imaginary military heroics for himself.

    I think that explains his bizarre strategy to try to paint Duckworth — who was literally put back together in VA hospitals — as being corrupt and indifferent to the health of veterans.

    That’s the only way the strategy makes even perverse sense. He could never win that battle, except in his fertile imagination.

  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:08 pm:

    The 2012 autopsy was just that.

  23. - Chucktownian - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:22 pm:

    That’s the news and Kirk is out of here…

  24. - peon - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:41 pm:

    I didn’t think this Senate race could get worse. I was wrong.

  25. - btowntruth from forgotonnia - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:45 pm:

    If it was off the cuff,he is a mean spirited human being with little self-control.
    If it wasn’t,he is ignorant and racist.

  26. - anotherfemalevet - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:52 pm:

    twice I could not figure out what the heck Kirk was even saying! The audience was looking around at each other wondering if he was even ok. Kirk really needs to step down and get a grip.

  27. - Norseman - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:56 pm:

    Trump’s Conway couldn’t resist gigging Kirk.

  28. - Come on man - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 10:59 pm:

    He had a stroke. It is sad to see this happen. His comments were vile but honestly GOP should have not allowed him to run

  29. - Quizzical - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:07 pm:

    Mark Kirk is becoming a sad verse in David Brook’s ‘Ballad of the Reasonable Republican’.

  30. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:36 pm:

    Tammy just picked up 5 voters in AA’s family tonight.

  31. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:06 am:

    –Still waiting to understand how this was racist.–

    Yeah, that’s a real brain-teaser. I think you’ll happily wait for a long time.

    –“I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”–

    And, by the way, not only is it racist, but (surprise!) the racism is idiotic, as obviously no one’s parents in 2016 could have served with George Washington.

    But let’s walk through this statement that is confusing you so.

    Duckworth’s mother is from Thailand.

    Her father could trace his family’s military service in North America back to the American revolution.

    Kirk knew that.

    But if you’re mother is an immigrant from Asia, married to a Marine, your family’s long heritage of service doesn’t count.


  32. - Anon2 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:09 am:

    As others have pointed out on Twitter, the real loser (because Kirk was done anyway) is Dold. That campaign ad with him and Kirk at the table hasn’t aged well.

  33. - Archiesmom - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:18 am:

    Drop the mic, wordslinger. Your work here is done.

  34. - Not offended - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:22 am:

    Wordslinger,replace Thailand with england. Is it still racist?….get it? I doubt it.

  35. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:35 am:

    Still no apology?

    Man. Kirk’s a jerk.

  36. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:55 am:

    –Wordslinger,replace Thailand with england. Is it still racist?….get it? I doubt it.–

    Get what? What are you doubting?

    But, let’s see: clumsy, idiotic reference to Asian heritage by a white dude compared to clumsy, idiotic reference by a white dude to English hertiage?

    Yeah, I’m good on the racist and idiotic front.

  37. - Drum - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:59 am:

    I thought that Duckworth’s comments about the war drums was fairly off the wall also.

  38. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 1:05 am:

    –But that’s not what this debate was about. Rep. Duckworth lied about her legal troubles, was unable to defend her failures at the VA and then falsely attacked Senator Kirk over his record on supporting gay rights.”–

    Plus, her parents didn’t engage Thai Mr. Peabody and his WABAC machine to serve with George Washington.

    From Thailand.

    Did I say “Thailand?”

  39. - Williamson County Resident - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 1:29 am:

    Please proceed Senator.

  40. - Red tower - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 3:01 am:

    I am now even more convinced that senator kirk’s stroke while leaving his intellect relatively intact somehow damaged his impulse control or some emotional structure that allows him to say things like that with no filter.

  41. - X-prof - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 5:05 am:

    O poor Reince, another deplorable candidate his job forces him to support …

    “I won’t comment on word selection.” –– Bruce Rauner on Kirk having called President Obama the nation’s “drug dealer in chief” while doubling down on his endorsement of Kirk in August. What say you now, Bruce? You can’t hide behind “staying out of the politics at the top of the ticket” on this one.

  42. - Mike - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 5:42 am:

    This was amazing to watch on live TV. The dead silence after the comment was made was stunning and really said everything.

    Kirk committed political suicide on live TV.

  43. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 6:26 am:

    Call her Senator Duckworth. The Press doesn’t look so crazy in questioning Kirk’s capability to do the job now. Clearly he has lost something, if only the ability to filter his innermost beliefs. Time for him to exit gracefully… he’s done.

  44. - Deft Wing - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 6:36 am:

    I know it’s uncool to offer it in this rabid anti-Tribune space, but perhaps, just maybe, the Trib was right after all. Could it be that this outburst is another illustration that Sen Kirk’s health makes it such that he is not up to all aspects of the job?

  45. - Big Muddy - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 6:41 am:

    Wonder what Kirk will do in retirement? Better figure it out quick as it starts Nov 9 for him.

  46. - kenny16 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 6:48 am:

    I have been in combat and have had the unfortunate experience of seeing helicopters shot down. To insult someone who has been through this is way beyond unacceptable–it is disgusting and an insult to all combat veterans. Someone in the Republican party needs to apologize for this clown. How could anyone say something like this?

  47. - Elliott Ness - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 6:56 am:

    Red Tower is spot on, he is proving his incapacity to serve credibly with this type of comment. It is a shame the GOP did not see this coming and a better alternative chosen. This could have been competitive. It still would have been difficult, but competitive. If this lack of recognition is an example of the leadership now at GOP then the Dems don’t have much to worry about going forward as Raunerites will continue to make these errors.

  48. - Aldyth - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 7:05 am:

    Stick a fork in him. He’s done.

  49. - Wensicia - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 7:09 am:

    His record of slurs against minorities is proof enough he’s unfit to serve as Senator for a state as diverse as Illinois.

  50. - PublicServant - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 7:30 am:

    That was Kirk’s Marco Rubio moment, only no one had to say “There it is…”

  51. - The Equalizer - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 7:50 am:

    Another poorly made flippant reMark. I don’t think this comment is quite as bad as it’s being made out, but it ain’t good, that’s for sure. My great great grandfather fought in the Civil War, but I have a Native American ancestor. Guess that overrides the Civil War legacy. Yikes.

  52. - benniefly2 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 7:58 am:

    His comment was so awful that I found out about it shortly after it happened because coverage of it was being retweeted out with incredulity by multiple random people that I follow on twitter who have no ties to Illinois or Illinois politics.

    I sincerely hope Senator Kirk gets better health wise, but man… That was bad.

  53. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:08 am:

    This is a great example of why early and absentee voting (while convenient and sometimes necessary) is also something that can be very foolish. Campaigns and candidates’ messages do incubate even up to the last minute. Incapacitation, investigative disclosures or world events can dramatically change the trajectory or inherent merit of any candidate. Most important, even in this cynical day and age there is still a beauty about the rite of heading to the polls on election day– greeting your neighbors and fellow citizens– and safely and publicly performing an activity that many people in the world would give their eye teeth and have given their lives to be able to.

  54. - efudd - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:19 am:

    GOP-tell you what:
    After you get your collective tails handed to you in a couple of weeks why don’t you do another autopsy, like the one the RNC performed in ‘12.
    Figure out your need to expand beyond white people and make some token gestures to do so.
    Then in 2020 run the same clowns for national office and Congress you did this year then wonder why you lost again.
    Historians should be able to make quite a living writing about the death of the Republican party for years to come.

  55. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:30 am:

    I’ve never thought very much of Mark Kirk; nevertheless, it seems I’ve overestimated him.

    – MrJM

  56. - The_Equalizer - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:39 am:

    Where oh where are you, Peter Fitzgerald? The GOP could use some decent politicians.

  57. - sal-says - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:39 am:

    What seems troubling & scary is that Markie must have ‘thought’ he was making some valid, cogent point with his remark as a incumbent US Senator!

  58. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:43 am:

    We’re really seeing the id of the Republican Party in this election.

  59. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:46 am:

    George Ryan and the beloved Judy Baar Topinka helped push Fitzgerald to the sidelines and he retired.

  60. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:53 am:

    Peter Fitzgerald was never going to be the answer for the ILGOP except to a trivia question.

    It gies back to that Proft stuff; the GOP needs to be more welcoming… the more conservative leaning the more welcoming we need to be. That won’t build anything in Illinois

    What is disappointing this whole cycle is the Trumpism and even Kirk here… if “you”… don’t look like “me”… we don’t want “you”?

    The lack of honest diversity of the party will lead to continued shrinking. And that diversity also means understanding the 80% rule…

  61. - Ouch - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:53 am:

    Being half Asian myself, and having been on the receiving end of comments like that, it stings even more hearing my US Senator say it. Ouch. And for anyone who thinks this is an example of overstated political correctness, live a day in my shoes…this is racism 101. I’d actually prefer overt name calling as opposed to this sort of ignorant sarcasm by a US Senator…

  62. - Anon - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:54 am:

    I’m surprised they haven’t blamed the stroke yet.

  63. - Pundent - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 8:57 am:

    Kirk has gone to great lengths to avoid these types of exchanges. Between last night’s debate and his editorial board appearance it’s become clear as to why.

  64. - Terry Salad - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:00 am:

    This is what happens when your debate preparation consists of watching old reruns of Don Rickles on Dean Martin’s celebrity roasts and taking notes.

  65. - Madigan's Lapdog - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:02 am:

    He’s now completely exposed. Any inkling of hope the Republican’s had of Kirk somehow winning has been snuffed out. And they did not see it coming? Yikes.

  66. - A Jack - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:12 am:

    That clearly was a very stupid comment by Kirk. In this land of mutts, many of us have relatives that fought in any number of these United States’ wars, yet may also have had migrant relatives who came here to enjoy the freedoms that those who came before have secured.

    And it is discounting all those migrants that secured citizenship by serving in our armed forces.

    Clearly Kirk does not deserve to represent a state with as rich a heritage of military service and migration as Illinois.

  67. - Res Melius - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:19 am:

    As an aside, this emphasizes the importance of public debates. Reality beyond the noise.

  68. - northshore cynic - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:21 am:

    Is there a libertarian candidate for Senate?

  69. - Cleveland Fan - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:23 am:

    ==George Ryan and the beloved Judy Baar Topinka helped push Fitzgerald to the sidelines and he retired.==

    Fitzgerald’s numbers were in the toilet, and he knew it. There is no way he could’ve mounted a serious reelection campaign in 2004.

  70. - The_Equalizer - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:27 am:

    The Fitzgerald comment was somewhat tongue in cheek (Wikipedia says he’s in Virginia), but it’d be nice to have a GOP candidate that doesn’t need the dogwhistles and/or misogyny, and isn’t some amateur hour billionaire.

  71. - Cleveland Fan - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:29 am:

    Mark Kirk is a bro with no voters. That’s what we say on the south, north, east, and west sides.

  72. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 9:32 am:

    OK, kids, I’m gonna close this one down because we have a fresh thread:

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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