Over
the line

Boy, did Sen. Mark Kirk say something racist in a debate

Boy, did Sen. Mark Kirk say something racist in a Thursday debate

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican running for re-election, mocked the Thai heritage of his Democratic challenger during a debate on Thursday.

“I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk told Rep. Tammy Duckworth, in response to her answer to a question about the costs of going to war. Duckworth is a veteran who lost both of her legs in the Iraq War.

Kirk, a Republican who won his seat in a reliably blue state during the tea party-dominated 2010 midterm elections, is about 10 points behind Duckworth. He is viewed as one of the more hawkish members of Congress, a close ally to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, and a vocal opponent of the Iran nuclear deal. During his 2010 campaign, he was caught multiple times stretching the truth about his own military record.

In a statement sent to Politico and other outlets, Kirk did not apologize for comments, but instead doubled down.

“Senator Kirk has consistently called Rep. Duckworth a war hero and honors her family’s service to this country,” the statement said. “But that’s not what this debate was about.”

You can watch the relevant portion of the debate below:

M-F 7:30PM HBO