Kirk, Giannoulias Square off on Meet the Press

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias square off on NBC's Meet the Press.

    U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias squared off this morning in their first public debate, appearing on NBC News' Meet The Press.

    On substantive issues, Kirk said the federal stimulus has largely failed, while Giannoulias said it helped the country from going from a recession to a depression.

    But the most memorable part dealt with questions about loans made by the now shuttered Broadway Bank when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer. Pressed by moderator David Gregory, Giannoulias said "I didn't really know the extent of the activity" of men with organized crime backgrounds who received millions in loans from Broadway Bank.

    NBC's Gregory took aim at Kirk, meanwhile, on exaggerating his military background, something Giannoulias labeled as telling "whoppers.".

    Both claimed they won the debate but had these parting words:

      Kirk: "In Chicago, politics ain't beanbag."

      Giannoulias: "The next three weeks will be rough and tumble."