Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s plan to welcome Syrian refugees to America in a campaign ad released Monday before slamming Sen. Mark Kirk for his foreign policy record.
“I think Tammy Duckworth has a very good plan for how we deal with the greatest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II,” Albright said in the ad.
Albright, the first female secretary of state, served in that office from 1997 to 2001. She also served as the 20th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997.
In the ad, Albright claims the refugees are not a threat to American security and the country has a thorough screening process to filter out potential enemies.
Following last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Kirk pushed for a temporary cessation to the program bringing Syrian refugees to the U.S.
“As long as the screening process is weak, Senator Kirk is calling for a pause in the program to ensure those seeking to take advantage of our nation are stopped,” Kirk spokesperson Eleni Demertzis told Ward Room.
Kirk released an ad in December of last year titled “Big Differences” claiming Duckworth “wants to bring 200,000 Syrian refugees to America.”
Duckworth had signed a letter asking the Obama administration to resettle 200,000 refugees by the end of 2016. Only 100,000 of those refugees were to come from Syria.
Kirk’s ad also warned of a potential ISIS attack on American soil and asked, “for your family’s safety, who do you trust?”
Albright slammed Kirk’s ad for appealing to American’s fears of another terrorist attack.
“Senator Kirk’s commercial is pure demagoguery operating on the basis of the fear factor and I think that is a very, very dangerous approach because we got into the war in Iraq as a result of the fear factor and it was based on the wrong information,” Albright said.
The Duckworth ad also includes a news clip from an October 2008 edition of the Daily Herald that reads, “Kirk was wrong to have voted to authorize the Iraq war.”
Albright echoed these sentiments in the ad.
“I think the war in Iraq was one of the biggest mistakes that this country made,” Albright said. “It was based on the wrong information and as people worked in order to get us into that war, the claims became more and more exaggerated and Mark Kirk was one of those who helped to exaggerate.”
Albright also lauded Duckworth’s military experience. Duckworth joined the United States Army Reserve in 1990 and lost her leg in 2004 while co-piloting a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq.
Duckworth subsequently served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and later as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the US Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2011.
Kirk is also a combat veteran. The senator was commissioned for duty as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1989. He was later recalled to active duty in 1999 when he participated in Operation Allied Force during the Kosovo War.
Duckworth and Kirk have previously sparred over the issue of radicalized refugees.
During a Chicago Tribune endorsement session, Duckworth insinuated that Kirk’s policies encouraged radicalized Iraqi refugees in Texas.
“They came as teenagers and they were radicalized because they were on those talk lines with ISIS because they see people like Mark Kirk demonizing Muslim and Islam and wanting to shut down our borders,” Duckworth said. “That’s how we turn people against us, is when we play right into ISIS’ hands.”
Kirk responded to Duckworth’s claims on the John Howell Show, calling Duckworth “a naive fool not fit for office in the Senate.”
The incumbent Kirk will face James Marter in the March 15 Republican primary while Duckworth will face Andrea Zopp and Napoleon Harris in the March 15 Democratic primary.