Kirk responds to opponent's name-calling

January 7, 2010 2:49:13 PM PST
Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, who just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, responded to controversial political ads from his opponent in the Republican primary campaign for the U.S. Senate. Andy Martin stood alone outside the Union League Club in a snow storm -- with no support from his own state party- Thursday. The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate created a storm of his own with some outrageous attacks on his opponent North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk, who spoke to the Union League Club about his tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Naval Reserve.

"I support president's decision to surge Afghanistan. I think there is no failure option in Afghanistan," said Rep. Kirk.

As a Naval Reserve officer, Kirk spent two and half weeks over the Christmas and New Year holidays in Afghanistan. During that time, Martin aired some inflammatory radio spots, including one that questioned Kirk's sexual orientation.

"It's ironic that I was there fighting for his rights while he was using his free speech rights to say things that are untrue," said Rep. Kirk.

When asked if he were gay, Kirk said "no."

While Martin is far from apologizing for his inflammatory radio spots, Kirk isn't too worried about the impact on voters because polls show Kirk far ahead in the lead for the republican primary. While Kirk calls the ads a disturbing part of politics, he defends Martin's right to air them.

"I wore the uniform. I'm a defender of free speech even when it's completely outrageous and untrue," said Kirk.

While Kirk took the opportunity to respond to his opponent's ads, he took many more questions about what he learned in Afghanistan. Kirk said that all major Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan are former Guantanamo prisoners who have been released. Kirk is urging the Obama administration not to release anyone from Gitmo.