Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias has called on his GOP rival Mark Kirk to apologize after audio was released that showed Kirk making "disrespectful" remarks about President Obama--including calling the president "this guy" and predicting he would only serve one term.
On Friday, Kirk appeared at a Republican dinner in suburban Winnetka that was closed to the media, but Politico obtained audio of Kirk speaking at the event.
"We are on the way to making this guy a one-termer," Kirk told the crowd. (LISTEN here.)
Politico reports that Kirk was "speaking in the context of how, with a Republican president, the GOP may be able to repeal healthcare legislation before much it goes into effect."
"The Congressman's remarks reflect the concerns of many Americans that the current health care bill would chart an unsustainable fiscal course for our country resulting in higher debt, more taxes and fewer jobs," Kirk spokesman Eric Elk told NBC Chicago. "Voters in Illinois understand the stakes in this election and have a clear choice to change direction, create jobs and clean up corruption."
As Politico pointed out, however, going head-to-head with Obama in Illinois might not be wise:
Aside from calling the president "this guy," Kirk's prediction of an Obama re-election defeat in 2012 puts him out of step with how most residents of the state feel about their own president.
According to a Research 2000 poll late last month, 60 percent of Illinois voters view Obama favorably while just 36 percent view him unfavorably.
On Wednesday, the Giannoulias campaign released a statement urging Kirk to apologize, and slamming him for his stance on healthcare reform.
"I was disappointed in Republican Congressman Mark Kirk's disrespectful remarks referring to our commander-in-chief as 'this guy' and gleefully admitting he is working with Republicans to obstruct meaningful reform," Giannoulias said in the statement. "He should apologize and get to work immediately with our President to tackle the enormous challenges we face. Illinois voters have a clear choice in this campaign: while President Obama and I will fight hard to move this country forward, Mark Kirk is just another typical Washington insider who would clearly rather stand with the corporate special interests and obstruct progress than get things done."
Kirk, who is considered a moderate Republican, has been trailing Giannoulias by a very small margin, despite the controversy surrounding Giannoulias' family bank and a major campaign contributor being indicted.
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