The Slatest

Illinois Senator Tries to Zing Tammy Duckworth in Debate, Looks Like a Racist Jerk Instead

Sen. Mark Kirk is currently trying to fend off a challenge for his Illinois Senate seat from Democratic congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. The two met in their second of three debates Thursday night at the University of Illinois Springfield. During the debate, the discussion turned to the military and Duckworth discussed her family’s history of military service, which, understandably, is one of her most valuable qualifications for office.

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth began. “I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation.” It was a quick biographical point in a larger answer about the costs of war and remembering those costs when making the decision to put American troops in harm’s way. It was a fine enough answer, one she’s surely given before. For reference, Tammy Duckworth, a two-term congresswoman, served in the Army as a helicopter pilot during the Iraq war where she was wounded, losing both of her legs. Duckworth was born in Thailand, to a Thai mother and an American father, a World War II veteran whose ancestors fought in the American Revolution.

When the moderator turned to Mark Kirk for his 30-second rebuttal Kirk chose, disastrously, to come back on one line of the answer, appearing to think he had caught Duckworth in a lie. “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk said in an affected tone, by way of response. Duckworth took a drink of water. An awkward silence followed before the moderator announced they were moving on to the next question. Zing? Kirk appeared to be thinking. No, no zing.

This is not the first time Mark Kirk’s rhetorical judgment has come into question. See his “bro with no ho” comment about South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for starters. Kirk has also said he will not vote for his party’s nominee for president because he’s “too bigoted and too racist.” Instead, Kirk said he’s voting for former CIA Director David Petraeus, who is not, in fact, running for president.

*(H/T Reboot Illinois for the debate video footage.)