How did the Kirk campaign respond to new questions about his military service? They again attempted to deflect attention on to his Democratic opponents.
Two weekends ago, when reports first surfaced regarding inaccuracies in Mark Kirk's account of his military record, the GOP U.S. Senate candidate immediately attacked rival Alexi Giannoulias -- this despite the fact that the Navy itself had already contacted him to express their own concerns about the falsehoods. From a press conference he held on May 31:
"When I was wearing a uniform in Aviano, I think he was wearing the uniform of a basketball team in Greece," Kirk said, referring to an assignment in Italy for a NATO campaign in the late 1990s.
This strategy failed, however, as the press identified more and more questionable claims. And Kirk was ultimately forced to go before Chicago's two major editorial boards later in the week and acknowledge the exaggerations.
Yesterday, the trouble started again for Kirk when the blog Nitpicker published a leaked Department of Defense memo which cited "concerns arising from his partisan political activities during his last two tours of active duty."
So how did the Kirk campaign respond? You guessed it: They again attempted to deflect attention on to his Democratic opponents. From a statement released last night:
Mark Kirk has served our nation in the U.S. Navy for two decades and has done so honorably. The fact is, Congressman Kirk never violated Defense Department policies. He has misspoken about his record, acknowledged it and apologized. Mark Kirk left for Afghanistan and he did not engage in political activities - even in the face of radio commercials accusing him of being gay. The memorandum in question is simply off the mark. Furthermore, this raises grave concerns and questions about who gained access to Kirk's confidential records. The document in question should be viewed for what it is - a baseless political ploy by partisans bent on defending a U.S. Senate seat at any cost.
If the "concerns" cited in the memo are indeed "baseless," then Kirk's beef should be with the deputy undersecretary of defense who wrote the thing -- not the bloggers and journalists who ultimately chose to highlight it.
Also, the memo doesn't actually assert that he "violated" DOD policies; it instead suggests that his activities ruffled some feathers among his superiors. No matter how much Kirk whines, the media is perfectly entitled to dig out the rest of that story.