In an interview published Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk told the State Journal-Register editorial board that he plans to write-in former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency David Petraeus for president, once again changing course.
During the interview, Kirk admitted that he has been “all over the map” with regards to who he would support for president and reverted back to supporting Petraeus, a retired four-star Army general.
In March, Kirk told NBC 5 that he would back Donald Trump if he became the Republican presidential nominee. The senator pulled his endorsement of Trump in June after the billionaire made a series of inflammatory statements about the heritage of a Hispanic judge presiding over civil fraud lawsuits against his beleaguered Trump University.
Later that month, the senator said he would write-in Petraeus, who resigned from his post as the CIA’s director in 2012 following a scandal stemming from an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. He pleaded guilty in federal court last year to a charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information.
After facing criticism, Kirk changed course in July and started backing former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a fellow four-star Army general who would also be a write-in candidate.
Last week, Kirk noted that he couldn’t back Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because she “was for the Iran agreement and I can’t back someone who was for the Iran agreement.”
But last year, Powell told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he also supported the nuclear agreement. At the time, Powell said that deal would “stop this highway race they were going down” toward Iran building a nuclear weapon.
Now Kirk is backing Petraeus again. During the interview with the State Journal-Register editorial board, he responded to the retired general’s guilty plea, claiming he was worried that Petraeus “was always seen as a potential rival to the president.” Kirk also noted that he thinks the prosecution “went too hard” on the former CIA director.
Kirk is locked in one of the nation's most competitive Senate races with Rep. Tammy Duckworth. The Democratic Party of Illinois responded to the senator's comments Wednesday.
"Once again, Republican Mark Kirk has embarrassed himself by concocting a bizarre conspiracy theory about President Obama using the Justice Department to carry out acts of political retribution," DPI spokesman Sean Savett said in a statement. "Kirk should come forward with whatever proof he has or admit he was either lying or engaging in irresponsible speculation, two things he does quite frequently. It's time to elect a senator with better judgment."
The Kirk campaign did not immediately respond to Ward Room’s request for comment on this story. The senator spoke at the Illinois State Fair Wednesday.