Retired Army general backs Giannoulias

August 30, 2010 (CHICAGO)

General Clark pushed the military credentials of the Democratic nominee.

A few months ago, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk touted himself as the undisputed expert on issues affecting the military. But the scandal over Kirk's embellishment of his Navy reserve record has opened the door for Alexi Giannoulias to make that claim himself.

Giannoulias and General Clark lunched at Manny's Deli with Iraq war veterans. The one-time supreme NATO commander--who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004--praised the Obama administration for winding down the nation's combat role in Iraq.

"I think there's got to be a hands-off at some point. This is the time for that. This was laid out well. I think our military has done a great job there," said Gen. Clark.

The Illinois treasurer points to General Clark's support to shore up his credential on defense issues which he says than Republican Mark Kirk, a 20-year naval reservist, who supported the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"It's a war that we shouldn't have fought. And on one of the most important foreign policy issues of our time, Congressman Kirk got it wrong."

Kirk spent most of the day in downstate Peoria, receiving the endorsement of Jim Owens, the chairman of Caterpillar Industries, one of the state's largest employers.

Giannoulias and Clark campaigned at a battery charging station for electric and hybrid cars where they criticized Kirk for switching his position on the cap and trade bill, the proposed tax on carbon emissions.

"That's not leadership, that's not honestly, that's typical Washington politics that puts the latest poll numbers over doing what's right," said Giannoulias.

Then Chicago-born General Clark praised banker Giannoulias' business acumen.

"He knows what it takes to make a business work and he knows what it takes to make government work," said Gen. Clark.

Kirk campaign spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski responded.

"If Wesley Clark's standard of success includes bringing down a bank, costing the FDIC $394 million and wiping out college savings for Illinois families, then we would agree," said Kukowski.

General Clark said he met Naval reservist Kirk ten years ago in Turkey. The Purple Heart and presidential Medal of Freedom awardee predicted the congressman would pay a price for embellishing his military record.

"He should know better. You need to be precise in what you say because it carries a lot of significance," said Gen. Clark.

Since his failed presidential run in 2004, Wesley Clark has campaigned for several other Democratic candidates, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid this year in Nevada.

Kirk supporters see General Clark more as a politician than as a soldier.

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