An ad released Thursday by Rep. Tammy Duckworth features an excerpt from an interview with Sen. Mark Kirk in which he says it is unlikely that the Senate will will move forward with confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
The ad centers around comments Kirk made on Big John Howell’s radio show last month.
“Knowing what you know about the political environment and the hyper-partisan world that you have to work in, do you ever think we will have any sort of hearings on Judge Merrick Garland, or is it a foregone conclusion that this is just kind of DOA,” Howell asks at the beginning of the ad.
In his response, Kirk cites the unified front of Republican Senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who staunchly oppose holding confirmation hearings for Garland.
“I think that given Mitch’s view, I don’t see his view changing too much,” Kirk responded. “You know, eventually we have an election and we will have a new president. The new president will obviously come forward with a nomination and that’s all for the politics of a new time.”
The ad then flips to a video from NBC Chicago wherein Kirk says he “certainly would” support Trump if he won the Republican presidential nomination.
The ad’s final title card asks, “is it a surprise that the current president endorsed Duckworth for Senate?”
In any event, last month in Washington, Kirk became the first Republican senator to meet with Garland. He previously told his Republican colleagues to “man up and cast a vote” on the nominee. Obama later thanked Kirk for meeting with Garland.
“Republican Senator Kirk wants to have it both ways, but beyond the photo-op and poll-tested rhetoric this much is clear: the position of his party and his leader is that Donald Trump should pick the next Supreme Court justice instead of President Obama,” Duckworth deputy campaign manager Matt McGrath said in a statement. “Senator Kirk said it himself: Mitch McConnell won’t allow hearings or a vote on the Garland nomination, and the next President will decide.”
The ad’s implication seems to be that, despite his meeting with Garland and his call for a vote, Kirk is accepting of Republicans holding out for the next president to make the SCOTUS nomination.
“Like most Illinoisans, Tammy Duckworth thinks this is unacceptable, and that President Obama should be allowed to carry out his constitutional duty,” McGrath added. “Loyal Republican Mark Kirk, on the other hand, is just fine with Donald Trump picking the next Supreme Court Justice.”
Kirk’s team reacted unfavorably to the campaign, calling Duckworth's tactics “ineffective.”
"The Duckworth campaign's tactic of 'noun + verb + Trump' has been called misleading and a cheap shot, and we would add ineffective to that criticism,” Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl told Ward Room. “The Illinois Senate race is now a statistical tie, with Senator Kirk demonstrating strong support from independent voters across Illinois while Rep. Duckworth struggles to justify out-of-touch national security positions like allowing 200,000 unsafely vetted Syrian refugees into the U.S."
Last month, Rep. Tammy Duckworth launched her “112 Days of Trump” campaign aimed at tying incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk to Republican presidential frontrunner.
A separate ad released as part of the campaign's launch features Kirk’s aforementioned statements followed by a barrage of incendiary claims made by Trump.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said during the announcement of his campaign last June. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.”
But, Kirk publicly disavowed these statements and distanced himself from Trump’s foreign policy in a conversation with John Gregory last June.
“In a typical Chicago way, to my Mexican-American friends, I would say, ‘Donald Trump callate’- shut up,” Kirk said.
The ad also features a clip of Trump denigrating Sen. John McCain’s military service
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump says. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay?”
Kirk quickly condemned these comments on Twitter last July.
“My friend [McCain] is a true #hero and a great American,” Kirk said.
The ad also features clips of Chicago’s canceled Trump rally that erupted in violence earlier this month. In addition to this, it features clips of Trump questioning President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
“Trump and Kirk,” the ad’s final title cards read. “Making America Great?”
Kirk and Duckworth are slated to face-off in the Nov. 8 general election. The race is widely considered to be one of the nation’s most highly contested Senate races.