Kirk ducks questions about military record

June 22, 2010 4:47:42 AM PDT
At a luncheon with other candidates Monday, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Kirk ducked questions on the controversy surrounding his military record. Kirk appeared at the lunch with the other candidates, but then eluded reporters by going out a back door.

Kirk has been on the defense since acknowledging that he exaggerated his military record.

It's not just his military record; there are new concerns that Congressman Kirk may have "misremembered" his teaching career. Since the end of May, we have not been able to ask the senatorial candidate about any of it, and Monday was more of the same.

Monday's event was Congressman Kirk's first public appearance in Chicago in three weeks. The Republican US Senate candidate addressed an estimated 1,000 guests of the Metropolitan Planning Commission on their quest for livable communities.

"I want to first frame the discussion and move on to the questions," said Kirk.

Kirk did not mention the controversy that caught fire Memorial Day weekend surrounding alleged embellishments and exaggerations of his military records. And there was no response to a New York Times report quoting church officials who disputed Kirk's claim that he worked as a nursery schoolteacher in upstate New York.

At the end of his speech Monday, the congressman and his entourage left the Hyatt ballroom through the kitchen, witnesses say on the quickstep.

"They were just walking at a fast pace," said one kitchen worker.

Reporters who chased Kirk to an underground loading dock caught nothing. Later, a campaign spokeswoman e-mailed, "He had other events on his schedule and walked out the door when the event was over."

"Again, I think this goes to the fact that he's got some serious questions that he needs to answer," said Democratic US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

The Congressman's Democratic opponent, Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, stopped and talked before his MPC appearance. The Giannoulias campaign was buoyed two hours later at a fundraiser attended by Vice President Joe Biden, representing the White House.

"From day one they've been supporting this campaign. The president called me when I became the nominee and said they'd be helpful. That's what they're doing. I'm honored and excited to have their help," said Giannoulias.

Back at the Hyatt, the MPC audience was the largest so far during the campaign to hear Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones. The most recent independent poll on the Senate race suggested South Sider Jones was favored by 14 percent of those surveyed.

"I don't know how to talk about livable communities in 2040 when we're living in deadly communities in 2010," Jones said.

The independent poll that showed Jones with 14 percent had Giannoulias and Kirk virtually tied at around 30 percent.

Kirk's campaign was insistent late Monday afternoon that he did not dodge reporter's earlier in the day. But he hasn't held anything close to a news conference since the embellishment allegations intensified at the end of May.


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