Giannoulias: Kirk program "reeks of racism"

October 15, 2010 (MATTESON)

Kirk, who is Giannoulias's opponent in Illinois' 2010 U.S. Senate race says he is just trying to make sure there is no voter fraud.

One candidate's "voter integrity" can thus become another candidate's "voter intimidation."

Giannoulias criticized Kirk's plan to "target" certain areas for voting fraud. Giannoulias also accused Republicans of racism as the Republicans sent their national committee chairman to Illinois to trumpet the party's new diversity.

For Republicans to pull their campaign bus into the heavily Democratic, south suburban Second Congressional District took a bit of nerve, but Michael Steele, the GOP's first African American national chairman, says the visit is rolling proof Republicans are serious about diversity.

"Was there a sign on the road I missed that said you can't come in here unless you're a Democrat?" asked Steele.

He came especially to promote Isaac Hayes, the party's candidate against Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Cedra Crenshaw, who is running for a Will County State Senate seat.

"It takes a lot of courage to run in the 43rd State Senate District as a Republican and the Second Congressional District as a Republican," said Steele.

"It's time to fire Jesse Jackson, Jr.," said Steele. "It's time to fire the Democrats, thank you very much."

As diversity was celebrated in Matteson, Democrats planned legal challenges to what Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk calls his voter integrity program.

The program is aimed at regions where African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

"It's dangerous, it's offensive, and it reeks of racism," said Giannoulias. "We're not going to let that happen here in Illinois."

"The Republican Party's not trying to suppress anybody's vote," said Steele. "We need you to go out in the community and vote on Election Day."

Meanwhile, Congressman Jackson, Senate candidate five in the Blagojevich corruption case, who recently apologized for an extramarital relationship with a "social acquaintance," was unimpressed by Steele's appearance in Matteson.

"Michael Steele is welcome to campaign here," said Jackson, Jr. "It's probably better use of his time to campaign somewhere else where he might be able to pick up seats for the Republican National Committee."

Congressman Jackson has refused offers to debate Isaac Hayes, who says his campaign appreciates logistical support from the Republican National Committee, but could use more financial aid from the party.

Steele says that as many as 100 congressional seats are in play this year and that he does not control how party money is distributed.

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