Kirk, Duckworth Defend John McCain on Twitter After Trump's 'War Hero' Comment | NBC Chicago
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Kirk, Duckworth Defend John McCain on Twitter After Trump's 'War Hero' Comment

Support for American veterans is central to both Kirk's and Duckworth's campaigns for the U.S. Senate seat

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    Illinois politicians react to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's recent comments about Sen. John McCain's military service and prisoners of war. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Monday, July 20, 2015)

    Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Tammy Duckworth have come to agreement on one issue as they both took to Twitter to defend Sen. John McCain after GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump blasted the former prisoner of war, saying he is "not a war hero."

    On Saturday, Kirk tweeted that his "friend" McCain "is a true hero and a great American." Subsequently, Kirk was also took part in a ceremony the same day to honor WWII veteran Pvt. Bud Kelder, who died in 1942 at a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Philippines. Pvt. Kelder was buried Saturday at Chicago's Union Ridge Cemetery, where his parents were laid to rest.

    Kirk also tweeted a link to a story about Pvt. Kelder in the Chicago Sun-Times and commented that he was "glad to honor this POW — and all POWs — as true American heroes."

    After his initial remarks about McCain not being a war hero because he was captured, Trump added, "Perhaps he (McCain) is a war hero." He also said he "respects" military servicemen and women who get captured.

    Trump has not apologized for the initial remark, however.

    While the timing was ripe for Kirk to jump on someone else's controversial remarks to divert attention away from his own, it appears his defense of McCain was sincere and not just a savvy campaign move.

    In March, Kirk and McCain appeared side-by-side at an event at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, where Kirk called his fellow senator his hero, according to the Chicago Tribune. The two addressed the local Ukrainian-American community and pledged their support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

    Support for American troops and veterans has been central to Kirk's campaign as he faces potential Democratic challenger Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is an Iraq war veteran herself who lost both legs in a helicopter crash.

    Duckworth also tweeted her support for McCain, saying he "served our country with honor and courage" and calling for Trump to apologize.

    The 2016 Senate hopeful was also busy lambasting Kirk on his own recent contentious remarks about the Iran nuclear deal, in which he accused President Obama of wanting Iran to get nuclear weapons. Kirk later backed off those comments and said he let his anger get the best of him.

    Duckworth faces former Urban League CEO and President Andrea Zopp in the Democratic primary in the spring. Zopp remained silent on Twitter regarding Trump's comment.

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