U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is facing criticism from his opponent and other Democrats for calling President Barack Obama "the drug dealer in chief."
Kirk's comments came last week when he spoke to the State Journal-Register editorial board. Kirk was discussing the Obama administration's $400 million payment in January to Iran.
"We can't have the president of the United States acting like the drug dealer in chief giving clean packs of money to a ... state sponsor of terror," Kirk told the State Journal-Register editorial board.
The $400 million payment to Iran stems from a 1970s dispute settlement. The State Department acknowledged last week that the payment was delayed to "retain maximum leverage" to ensure American prisoners detained in Tehran were released.
The State Department pushed back on accusations that the payment was ransom, with a department spokesman explaining that Iran was "going to get this money anyway because the Hague tribunal decided that they were going to get their money back," according to Politico.
The campaign for U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8), who is challenging Kirk in the general election, said the Republican Senator should issue an apology for his "drug dealer in chief" comments.
"Senator Kirk's comments are misguided and deeply offensive, and beneath the dignity of the office he holds," said Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath.
The Kirk campaign fired back at the criticism, calling the Obama administration's actions "reckless in the extreme."
"After misleading the American people on the $400M it paid to get our hostages back, the Administration is now attempting to change the literal definition of 'ransom,'" reads a statement from the Kirk campaign. "Sen. Kirk believes the Administration's actions, which Tammy Duckworth has supported, were reckless in the extreme. The Administration's pay off will endanger more Americans abroad and is almost certain to fund terrorism."
Meanwhile, in other election news, Kirk earned the endorsement Monday of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, a retired Navy Captain and astronaut.
Giffords and Kelly announced their organization's endorsement of Kirk and his fellow Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania in a CNN editorial Monday.
"In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Republican Sens. Pat Toomey and Mark Kirk broke from the gun lobby and supported a bill to help prevent felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms at gun shows and online," the editorial reads. "This week, they are earning our organization's endorsement."