Kirk Apologizes to Duckworth, Says It's Time to Focus on Issues

Nov 2, 2016

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says he apologized, and that apology was accepted… so it's time to move on from a controversial comment he made at last week's debate. The Republican spoke with public radio today.   The backlash against Kirk was swift, after he said this:

"I'd forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."

It was a response to his Democratic opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is of mixed heritage, saying her family's military legacy dates to the American Revolution.  Critics say it was at least offensive and ignorant; at most, racist.

Kirk says it was  "a snarky remark".

"I have been known for being too quick to turn a phrase. Which of us in the last six years would have never said anything that any body was not offended by?"

The propensity to speak before thinking is one that Kirk says was a problem prior to his 2012 stroke.  His brain surgeon says has made a "full cognitive recovery."  This weekend, Kirk is set to again climb the 103 stories of Chicago's Willis Tower.

Two groups have withdrawn their endorsements after the remarks.   Kirk was a rare Republican to receive a nod from the Human Rights Campaign, which supports gay rights, and a gun control group led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords.  Kirk says it's "disappointing."

"Those organizations tend to be pretty supportive of the Democratic party. I'm sure the DNC brought pressure to bear.  And that was effective.  So kinda disappointing to me because I have a great record on supporting gay rights and marriage equality."

In an interview with public radio… Kirk says that it's now time to focus on the issues.