5-Term Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for the U.S. Senate, will address a sold-out crowd today at the City Club of Chicago's Public Policy Forum. Last time Kirk was at this event, speculation was rampant over whether Kirk might run for governor, U.S. Senate, or another term in Congress. Of course, we now know which direction Kirk decided to go, so he will no doubt be addressing many of the issues that are at the forefront of the U.S. Senate race, including jobs, the overall economy, Wall Street, perhaps Obama's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, and maybe even throw in a little about his opponent, Alexis Giannoulias, as Kirk has been known to do from time to time.
Alexi, on the other hand, has been desperate to change the subject from his family's failed Broadway Bank, and has been blitzing T.V. lately with ads to try to pump up his poll numbers (even the Daily Kos poll shows Kirk in the lead). This gambit has raised some eyebrows, as it is awfully early in the campaign to start spending a lot of money on expensive T.V. ads, especially when Alexi is at a serious fundraising disadvantage to Kirk. This is speculation among some quarters that if Alexi can't raise his positives and shake off the stigma of Broadway Bank, the White House (which has been sending mixed signals about its support for Alexi over the last month or two) may finally decide to lay down the law and recruit another candidate.
I will be at the City Club lunch and will try to snap a few pictures on my trusty Blackberry, but we'll see how they turn out. I've now managed to lose three new digital cameras in the last two years, so I'm done buying them. :-(
UPDATED: Wow, that was a great lunch. Mark Kirk really showcased his experience and knowledge of domestic and foreign issues.... but I will tell you that every time I hear him speak like this, I walk away feeling very, very concerned about the security of this country, financially and otherwise. There is simply no way we can like a buffoon like Alexi into the Senate when we desperately need someone of Kirk's qualifications. The Kirk campaign just sent around a summary of his speech so I don't have to (!):
Congressman, Navy Veteran Presents Vision to Create Jobs in Illinois, Master National Security Challenges Abroad and Restore Public Trust
Kirk: “Americans lack of faith in our own government. Honesty in office – that’s how we rebuild trust.”
CHICAGO – Congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk today outlined his vision for adding jobs and ending corruption in Illinois calling the “breakdown in public trust” one of the greatest challenges facing the nation.
“As your Senator, I will work to provide honest government to Illinois, helping to put our country back on track,” Congressman Kirk said. “As a fiscal conservative and social moderate, I will work to cut government spending, enact the small business bill of rights, support our troops and back the toughest federal prosecutors – fighting public corruption in Illinois and on Wall Street.”
Highlighting his record of independence from party leaders on issues like canceling Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere, stopping BP's Lake Michigan pollution plan and backing stem cell research, Congressman Kirk said bipartisan, independent leadership is what the country needs to restore the public’s trust in government.
Citing Illinois’ aviation and rail networks as “natural advantages,” Congressman Kirk said backing the O’Hare Modernization Project and boosting support to scientists at Argonne, Fermilab and FutureGen were critical to reversing unemployment in Illinois. The congressman pledged to continue his work to pass a “Small Business Bill of Rights” to help small business owners create jobs and emphasized the need to end the $500 million “corruption tax” Illinois families are forced to pay every year.
In the long term, Congressman Kirk stressed two critical priorities for America’s economic security: innovation and cutting government overspending.
“To sell more exports, we must reward private sector innovation with the goal of attracting the next Google or Apple to Illinois,” Congressman Kirk said. “We also need to fix a growing weakness for Americans in science, math and engineering. We need to accelerate to protect our status as the world’s leading innovator.”
Citing the European debt crisis, Congressman Kirk noted the serious challenges looming for America’s economy.
“Without fiscal conservatives in Washington to get spending under control, our little recovery could quickly return to crisis,” Congressman Kirk said. “The Greek debt crisis sent a warning to America. We must stop spending money we do not have. If we do not, our children will be forced to ask, who will bailout the United States?”
The congressman, known for his national security expertise, closed his remarks touching on three critical foreign policy challenges facing the United States: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, drug cartel violence in Mexico and the rise of China as an economic and military power.