June 29th, 2010
03:00 PM ET
12 years ago

'I was careless,' Kirk says

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/29/art.kirk.file.gi.jpg caption="Senate hopeful Mark Kirk apologized Tuesday for mischaracterizing his military record."]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

Filed under: 2010 • Illinois • Mark Kirk
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. jeff jackson, alabama

    So, the next time I get caught lying
    I'll just say....Oh I wasn't lying, I was
    just careless.

    June 29, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. sammieb51

    The GOP – Guns, God, Country .... and this dirt bag lies about his contributions. Throw the bum out.

    June 29, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. a little sad

    That's not a mistake, that's a lie.

    You know what awards you received, and you know what awards you did not receive.

    "I was dumbing it down for the civilians" is not an excuse.

    June 29, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |

    I am a republican and I can tell after spending 30 yrs in the US Army that a person don't make mistakes like that that are honest and truth bearing politicians. We have enough of those in the White House now. SO my friend if I was you drop out of the race now. You will only do harm to the republican party.

    June 29, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. Sgt. Ray

    "I was careless." More like "I couldn't care less."

    June 29, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. Larry

    Kirk said: "I think we should tax less, spend less, create jobs, protect our environment and clean up corruption." What a stupid idiot. It is impossible to tax and spend less while trying to create jobs, protect our environment and clean up corruption. Not only is he a liar but he probably believes he is the great great grandfather of captain James T. Kirk. Beam him up Scotty.

    June 29, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. jerseylou

    Pathological liar....Don't worry they will vote you in!

    June 29, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    He LIES !!! He wants those corporate $$$ in HIS pockets.

    June 29, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Malt

    If Kirk is a better candidate, vote for him.

    Illinois has so much corruption, it is time for voters to take responsibility and put a good person in office–not a labor union sponsored goon or a purchased politician. George Soros and SEIU bought Obama's loyalties and we can see how that is going (a terribly written 'healthcare' reform bill, unions being given the major share of GM, democrats giving BP waivers from regulations [prior to the spill]...).

    June 29, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. Texas Granny

    What he's really saying is "I got caught, and I'm sorry I got caught, but if you'll elect me, I'll make sure I don't get caught again"- (not I won't "do" it again, but I won't "get caught" again). At least that's the way I see it.

    June 29, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Fed Up!

    The poor way Mark Kirk has handled this public relations fiasco has raised additional issues regarding his qualifications to be an effective senator.

    The first is that Mark Kirk insulted the voter’s intelligence when he attempted to explain away the award discrepancy. Lamely claiming that a unit award carries as much weight, and is just as important, as an individual award defies common sense. To put it in sports terms, if you had a baseball team, who would you rather hire, a pitcher from the team that won the World Series or the pitcher who won the Cy Young Award?

    The second concerns Kirk’s leadership and ability to accept responsibility. When he failed to “spin” his way out of the award discrepancy debacle, Mark Kirk very quickly foisted the blame for this, and the many other errors, on his staff. Does not military doctrine instill that a leader be loyal to his troops (staff, in this case) and is ultimately responsible for whatever they do?

    After the inaccuracies in his campaign literature and ads were uncovered, Mr. Kirk’s subsequent actions were less than honorable and actually denigrated the military experience of which he so often boasted.

    June 29, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Dean

    When you are careless you spill a drink or knock a lamp over, not make a statement that is false. We don't need any more liars in Washington DC, there are enough there already.

    June 29, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Larry

    The Republicans LIE UNTIL CAUGHT ...

    Only then do they apologize

    Then start lying again


    Makes me sick !!!

    June 29, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. kf

    LIAR LIAR LIAR-all we hear from the Republicans is I'm Sorry. 🙁

    I'm sorry I told a lie but I kept running with it, the devil made me do it or was it the Obama Administration. Republicans blame everything on Obama so I'm waiting for that excuse next.

    June 29, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. kimberly

    republican or democrat, this should NOT be tolerated, and the voters should punish him accordingly. He is ONLY sorry he got CAUGHT, not that he did it. Can we please try to not make this a republican or democrat thing and agree this is all too often the case on both sides, they lie and are ONLY ONLY sorry when they are caught. It happens on my side too (democrat) so I will ONLY say this should be dealt with by the voters, he will lie about anything to get what he wants.

    June 29, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Larry

    CARELESS ??????

    Lying on purpose to make yourself LOOK better is not called being careless

    It's called LYING

    It's called, being DECEITFUL

    It' called, DISHONEST

    Pony up to your BS KIRK !!!!!!!!!

    June 29, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Is Kirk the same guy that used bogus military medals on his military uniform which opened a lot of doors for him, I thought they put him in jail.

    June 29, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Not Surprising

    So, in essence, this guy is saying he can't speak in terms civilians will understand... and he wants to be in what position again? Yeah, time to re-think that.

    June 29, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Charlie

    You would think that after John Kerry got beat up for misstating his record they would have all learned. Nope, he had the Democrat in CT and now this one. The good politicians don't get caught in their lies.

    June 29, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. MatthewDetroit

    I wish the PRESS would STOP allowing people to MISCHARACTERIZE.

    I dont care if they are republicans or democrats.
    Call a spade a spade.


    Stop letting them say.... I made a mistake.....I misspoke....I embelished.......The fact is THEY LIED.

    June 29, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. ehwilson429

    great race.

    the REPUB pads his resume.

    the DEM is a bank crook.

    why not start over?

    June 29, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Shorn

    That's what we want, a careless Senator. Neat!

    June 29, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. scott

    he lied!

    June 29, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. Jim S

    sounds a lot like a tea bagger the sarah all that interests this man is power presytige and MONEY he will do anything and lie about anything to get his 5 min in he sun

    June 29, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. opalka

    Then how about leaving your opponents family bank out of the discussion too, Kirk!

    Either discuss the things that your Senate job would involve, or withdraw and criticize failed banks.....there's a lot of them, so that should keep you busy.

    June 29, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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