Five days ago, Kirk was touting his military experience-- while wearing a VFW hat at a Memorial Day parade-- as one of his mot valuable political assets. Since then, his military record has come under intense scrutiny by the campaign of his opponent, Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias. What a difference a week makes.
"He's going to have to answer questions about embellishing his record," said Giannoulias.
"When you put several hundred thousand dollars to a million behind investigating anyone's record, there is probably going to be a discrepancy that you could find," said Rep. Kirk.
At a Congressional hearing in 2002, Kirk said, "I've been in office just one year before that I was a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer of the Year in 1998."
As the week progressed, a discrepancy over the Navy Reserve's "intelligence Officer Of The Year Award" that Kirk never received--evolved into a steady progression of untrue or half-true statements he has made in Congress or during his U.S. Senate campaign.
In a recent campaign ad, he said "I'm a 20-year naval intelligence officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Kirk was deployed stateside during the Iraq War and admitted this week on a downstate radio program he had never served in the U.S. military while there.
"I have been through Iraq as a congressman," he said Friday.
However his squadron did fly intelligence missions in Iraqi airspace during Operation Northern Watch in 2000.
"The last time I was in Iraq I was in uniform flying at 20,000 feet and the Iraqi Air Defense network was shooting at us," said Kirk in 2003 to Congress.
On Friday, Kirk conceded there was no way to confirm his unit had actually taken fire. Despite his explanations and apologies to the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune editorial boards this week, he has never said he lied about his military service. He said the problem was he 'misremembered' the details of his service.
"And if it gave the impression that my military record was larger than it was, I apologize. Because I do think my military record stands for itself," said Kirk to the Sun-Times.
Kirk is releasing his official military service records on his campaign website. They are now posted where they can be inspected by the public.
The Giannoulias campaign, which took plenty of hits during the Broadway Bank failure, is having a field day questioning Kirk's military service.