Mitt Romney attends Chicago fundraisers for Mark Kirk

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Mitt Romney campains for Mark Kirk
Senator Mark Kirk and Congressman Bob Dold got a boost from Mitt Romney at Chicago fundraisers Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Senator Mark Kirk and Congressman Bob Dold received a boost from Mitt Romney Wednesday as the former Republican presidential nominee was in Chicago for a couple of fundraisers.

Romney and Kirk campaigned together as two "Never Trump" supporters.

"I joked that I might write my wife's name in," Romney said.

"I'm the strongest Republican in the country, ahead of Trump since I de-endorsed him and said he should get off. That shows the independence from him," Kirk said.

It's not just Trump at the top of the ticket that might hurt Kirk in his bid for reelection. The Chicago Tribune questioned his stamina post-stroke when it endorsed his Democratic rival, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

Now, though, a Tribune examination of Duckworth's record running the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs under Rod Blagojevich shows a marquee veterans program never enrolled more than 100 vets a year on her watch.

"To see someone waste $5 million in treatment money when we have veterans dying in line for treatment, that's anathema of what I envision for the future of health care for veterans," Kirk said.

Duckworth's campaign said she had little control over that program. Tuesday night, David Letterman headlined a high dollar fundraiser for her campaign.

An average of recent polls has Duckworth leading Kirk 43 to 36 percent, but Kirk said don't count him out.

"News of my potential death has been way too early," he said/

Kirk won his last senate race by just 59,000 votes. In this solidly blue state, the Republican argued his ability to compromise and work with Illinois' other senator, Democrat Dick Durbin, is a reason to send him back to Washington.

So you have Kirk and Romney, two Republicans, disavowing their president candidate and Kirk embracing the second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, further evidence of how unusual this election year turned out to be.