U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is drawing criticism for saying he would back Donald Trump, should the businessman become the GOP presidential nominee.
Kirk made that statement Friday during an interview with NBC 5 Chicago, prior to the cancelation of Trump's campaign event at the UIC Pavilion.
Democrats vying to unseat Kirk pounced on him for saying he will support the Republican frontrunner if he wins the GOP nomination.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8), state Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Chicago) and former Chicago Urban League CEO and ex-Chicago Public Schools board member Andrea Zopp are competing in the Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate.
Duckworth deputy campaign manager Matt McGrath issued these remarks Friday:
Two men are making news in Illinois tonight. One of them recently said people 'drive faster through' black neighborhoods, called a U.S. Senator a 'bro with no ho,' and suggested President Obama's end goal for the Iranian nuclear agreement was to 'get nukes to Iran.' The other man is Donald Trump."
Senator Mark Kirk has long embraced Trumpian divisive rhetoric and fear-mongering, and now he's embracing the man himself. With this announcement, Mark Kirk has come home.
Zopp, meanwhile, released this statement Monday about Kirk's comments:
Donald Trump's campaign has been driven by hatred and fear. Here in Chicago, a large protest was organized just this past Friday rejecting his racist demagoguery."
Senator Kirk saying that he will support Trump is unconscionable. With his statement, he has further proved that he is out of touch. Even leaders within his own party, like Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney, have disavowed Trump."
Illinois voters deserve better. The people of Illinois are already reeling from a government that has decided to put politics over their needs. They cannot afford to be assaulted full-on by a Donald Trump candidacy."
Senator Kirk has made clear his views on Trump's brand of Republicanism and that is why he has to go.
I have been endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield Journal-Register, Chicago Defender, and Chicago Crusader. These endorsements and my diverse background show that I am the only candidate that can effectively represent the whole state on issues that are impacting daily lives.
EMILY's List also weighed in on the controversy, with spokesperson Rachel Thomas releasing the following comment today:
What not to do when trying to appear moderate? Support Donald Trump.
But that's exactly what Senator Mark Kirk is doing -- putting his party's anger-baiting, wall-touting, women-offending frontrunner ahead of the millions of Illinois families he was elected to represent.
On the same day Trump was supposed to hold a rally in Chicago, Senator Kirk vowed to endorse Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee -- showing that when it comes down to the tough decisions, Kirk will always stand on the side of partisanship, divisiveness, and a party that's willing to marginalize any community that stands in its way.