Mark Kirk and his opponent Alexi Giannoulias both have major campaign events scheduled today; Kirk will speak on international trade issues and is expected to pick up the endorsement of Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens; meanwhile Alexi tries to bolster his lack of any real national or foreign policy experience (oh, yeah, that's right, he visited Greece with Dick Durbin once, I forgot) with an appearance and endorsement by former Dem presidential candidate retired General Wesley Clark.
UPDATED: Kirk Campaign raises questions regarding Wesley Clark endorsement of Giannoulias:
Why Would Alexi Giannoulias Stand with General Wesley Clark?
Later this morning, Alexi Giannoulias will appear with former General Wesley Clark at a press conference downtown where Clark is expected to attack a fellow veteran who served in Operation Allied Force.
Over the years, Gen. Clark has made a series of inappropriate and bizarre statements – and has a history of attacking veterans’ service records for political gain. Given Giannoulias’ recent pledge to create a Senate Progressive Caucus and his reference to Afghanistan as a “war we didn’t need,” it’s no wonder he would stand with someone like Wesley Clark.
1. Does Alexi Giannoulias agree with Wesley Clark’s anti-Semitic statement that “New York money people” are advocating attacking Iran?
“Huffington quoted Clark as saying that the idea of bombing Iran before exhausting diplomatic avenues was ‘outrageous.’ According to Huffington, she then asked Clark what made him so sure that the United States is headed in the direction of attacking Iran, and he replied: ‘You just have to read what’s in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.’ The phrase ‘New York money people’ struck unpleasant chords with many pro-Israel activists. They interpreted it as referring to the Jewish community, which is known for its significant financial donations to political candidates.” (Nathan Guttman, “Top Dem Wesley Clark Says ‘N.Y. Money People’ Pushing War With Iran,” The Forward, 1/12/07)
2. Does Alexi Giannoulias oppose the death penalty for Osama bin Laden like General Clark does?
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “[D]o you think Osama bin Laden … should be tried here at the U.S. or in the Hague … ?” Clark: “I would like to see him tried in the Hague …” Matthews: “Well, 3,000 Americans were killed here. Do you believe he should be held exempt from capital punishment, because if you send him to Hague he will be. They don’t have capital punishment at the Hague.” Clark: “I think that’s a separate issue. …” Matthews: “No, it’s a key issue, because the sentencing limitation, they do not execute people at the Hague.” Clark: “I think that you can adequately punish Osama bin Laden, and you’ve got to look beyond simple retribution against an individual. …” Matthews: “But doesn’t life in Holland beat life in a cave?” Clark: “Not in a Dutch prison. Chris, they’re under water, they’re damp, they’re cold, they’re really miserable.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 12/8/03)
3. Does Alexi Giannoulias believe there is any contradiction between his rhetoric against federal lobbyists and General Clark’s lobbyist past?
“Wesley Clark … made nearly $500,000 as a lobbyist for an Arkansas database company after he left the Pentagon.” (Jeanne Cummings, “Clark Earned About $500,000 As Lobbyist For Arkansas Firm,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/19/04)
4. Does Alexi Giannoulias agree with President Obama that General Clark inappropriately attacked Senator John McCain’s distinguished service record for political gain?
Gen. Clark: “Well, I Don’t Think Riding In A Fighter Plane And Getting Shot Down Is A Qualification To Be President.” CBS’ Bob Schieffer: “Well, General, could I just interrupt you. I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.” Gen. Clark: “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.” (CBS’ “Face The Nation,” 6/29/08)
Obama Campaign: “As he's said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain's service, and, of course, he rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark.” (Scott Martelle, “Barack Obama Slaps Down Wesley Clark – Gently,” Los Angeles Times “Top Of The Ticket” Blog, latimesblogs.latimes.com, 6/30/08)
5. Is it a coincidence that General Clark attacks veterans who are Republicans but praises veterans who are Democrats?
“This Congress has the fewest number of veterans of any Congress in recent history,” Clark said in a statement. “If there were more veterans of principled leadership and good conscience like Jon in Washington, I have no doubt this nation will have turned a corner to a brighter future.” (New York: General Clark Backing Iraq War Veteran Powers, Roll Call, November 19, 2007)
“At a time when the number of veterans in Congress is at its lowest point since World War II, we need to come together to put more common sense leaders like Tommy in Congress to help get this country back on track.” (http://securingamerica.com/node/3272)
"One man volunteered to serve his country, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, and he volunteered a third time to command a swift boat in one of the most dangerous activities in the war. The other man scrambled and used his family's influence to get out of hearing a shot fired in anger. That's the comparison.” (CNN’s “Inside Politics,” 8/17/04)
6. Does Alexi Giannoulias believe in time travel like Wesley Clark does?
“I still believe in e=mc², but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go. … I happen to believe that mankind can do it. … I've argued with physicists about it, I've argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it. It's my only faith-based initiative.” (Brian McWilliams, “Clark Campaigns At Light Speed,” wired.com, 9/30/03)