Things got testy, once again, at the final televised debate last night between Illinois Senate candidates Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Rep. Mark Kirk. The race has been mired in negative ads, accusations and scandals on both sides for months, and that atmosphere carried over into last night.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kirk accused Giannoulias of flip-flopping on his support for TARP, which Giannoulias has argued did not include strong enough oversight provisions. Giannoulias countered that Kirk had voted for TARP, but not to limit executive pay. “Congressman Kirk, because he’s bought and paid for by the corporate special interests, voted against it,” Giannoulias said. Kirk pressed Giannoulias for a yes or no on whether or not he would have voted for TARP, and Giannoulias said that he was in favor of it.
“This is the sort of immaturity of my opponent,” Kirk said. “In the end, a member of Congress is presented with a yes or no vote on always an imperfect package. He wants to have it both ways. It was difficult to get an answer out of him now. But in the end, you have to cast a tough vote as I did and I voted in favor of it and it didn’t take 30 seconds to figure out how.”
“If Congressman Kirk is accusing me of flip-flopping, that would be the most remarkable irony in the history of Illinois politics,” Giannoulias responded.
Another headline moment came during a discussion of the Iraq War. CNN reports:
On reports that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons, Kirk said, “I think that we were lied to in the end, by the deputy director of national intelligence absolutely.” Questioned on the point, Kirk backtracked, saying the intelligence was wrong.
Giannoulias pounced on Kirk’s answer, saying, “He actually convinced other members of Congress that he knew to a moral certitude” that the Iraq war was necessary.
The TPM Poll Average for this race shows Giannoulias (40.4%) leading Kirk (39.7%) in a four-way race with Labno (3.6%) and Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones (5.0%).
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com