Washington (CNN) - Rep. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican hoping to capture President Obama's old Senate seat in November, apologized Tuesday for mischaracterizing his military record.
"I've made mistakes when characterizing certain aspects of my accomplishments and experiences. I apologize for my mistakes and I pledge to correct any errors. I am not perfect, and I was careless. I will do better and make sure this never happens again," Kirk said.
The initial controversy began weeks ago, after his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, raised questions about a naval award Kirk claimed to have received. The Kirk campaign and the candidate himself falsely claimed he was awarded the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award – a prestigious honor that is given to only one individual a year.
Six days after the allegations came to light, Kirk apologized to the Chicago Tribune editorial board, saying the discrepancies were the result of trying to communicate his accomplishments in "civilian-speak."
But the initial apology failed to stop additional questions about his service record – questions Kirk has largely avoided. Local Chicago media outlets reported that after his last campaign appearance, Kirk escaped reporters' questions by quickly exiting the event through a kitchen.
The Giannoulias campaign, which earlier this year waged its own public relations battle following the failure of a bank owned by the candidate's family, issued their own statement Tuesday.
"Congressman Kirk wasn't careless and he didn't misremember – he lied. One mistake is careless. Misrepresenting, embellishing or not telling the truth about 10 different phases of your military career over a 10-year period is a pattern of lies, plain and simple," Giannoulias campaign spokesman Matt McGrath said.
Kirk also used Tuesday's press conference to attempt to steer his campaign back on track, saying the election still boils down to a choice.
"This election will come down to a clear choice between two people and two very different directions of where to take our country and our state. I think my views are more in line with the voters of Illinois. I think we should tax less, spend less, create jobs, protect our environment and clean up corruption," Kirk said.
Kirk and Giannoulias are seeking the seat currently held by Sen. Roland Burris, who decided not to pursue the Democratic nomination.
-CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report
Liar, Liar, Liar. In no way can this be mistaken as an accident. Once a liar, always a liar.
the same old story ( I should be more careful )
the next thing you know he will be tapping his foot at the airport
mens room and then saying he was just jokeing
A RepubliCON once again lied. A dumb lie at that. How are you going to lie about a military award given to one damn person a year?!?! Any idiot can look up the list of winners for that award and see this idiot's name is not on it.
Once again another lying RepubliCON......am I supposed to be surprised?!?
Who knew? Another dishonest liar from Illinois? Oh wait the Neo-Con's will say it is okay for Republicans to lie and be sheisty.
How many times is this guy gonna need to apologize?
Yeah... so. I wonder if he and Blumenthal bluffed their way into a local VFW post and sit around telling lies about wars they never fought in for cheap beer. Just more politicians who can't tell the truth and try creatively to redefine what a bold faced lie is. Boot them both out.
There is a BIG difference between being careless and lying.
Does an apology help yes does it vindicate you, absolutely NOT
I think we should tax less, spend less, create jobs, protect our environment and clean up corruption," Kirk said.
Yes I think that is what everyone wants but when you get into office
you become the puppet of your party's leadership.
So you are a liar anyway.
I guess he figured, If Richard Blumenthal can get away with a lie and be forgiven then so can I?,
I wonder who else will join the Blumenthal, Kirk Club of Lies, misrepresenting, embellishing, not telling the truth? They say things come in 3,three.
If you criticized Blumenthal, criticize Kirk and if you criticized Kirk, criticize Blumenthal. if you forgave one forgive both! They were guilty of doing the same thing! Unless that (R) or (D) behind their names is what's more important to you!
Serving your country is all you have to be proud of. Why did you have to fabricate your career? I'm a veteran who hasn't served in war time. That doesn;t mean I'm ashamed of my service. I find it dispicable for Mr. Kirk and Mr. Blumenthal to make statements that are blatant lies. Obviously these gentlemen for got that INTEGRITY is a core belief in the U.S. Armed Forces.
As Illinois politics go, this is between a liar and a cheat. We wouldnt want it any other way.
Careless is a euphemism for a falsehood, which he knew perfectly well, was false.
Where i come from, we call that a lie, and liars don't belong in Congress.
when will he address his closested sexual orientation?
Gee, I thought Mr. Kirk got that Navy Medal the same year I walked on the moon. OOOooooopsssss that was not the moon. I apologize. As it turns out I was walking in a sand box while drunk and that is the reason I felt weighless. While drunk, I simply misremembered.
Just be truthful – You Lied
Anything he did was to get an advantage in winning the race. Now that he has been called on it, it is going to blow up in his face. How can he be trusted to tell the truth?