Kirk, Giannoulias Meet for “Beer Summit”

As agreed, Senator-elect Mark Kirk and his former opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, met at the Billy Goat Tavern on Wednesday evening in a conciliatory meeting.

The so-called "beer summit" drew several reporters, many of them who agreed that the move should turned into a new post-Election Day tradition.

Giannoulias, admittedly "a little sleep-deprived, a little sad" said he agreed to the summit for the reasons he mentioned Tuesday night:  that the campaign wasn't about him.

"I know it sounds really cheesy, but people are getting killed out there in this recession and I just think we've got to put down partisan, silly politics and we should all work together.  We should focus on helping people," he said.

The meeting, which was supposed to begin at 5 p.m., actually began about an hour late.  Kirk, wearing a dress shirt but no tie and a dark-colored blazer, arrived shortly after 6 p.m. and spent several minutes shaking hands and taking photos. 

Giannoulias arrived about 10 minutes after Kirk and was dressed even more casually, wearing blue jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and a Chicago Blackhawks cap.

The men hugged, posed for photos and sat down at a table to chat over beer.  Kirk had a Miller Lite from a bottle.  Giannoulias had a draft beer in a chilled glass mug.

Kirk said the men exchanged cellphone numbers and email addresses when asked if he thought they may work together on some issues.

"Almost half of Illinois voted for him to be their Senator and I think you have to respect that voice," said Kirk.

Tavern owner Sam Sianis didn't express surprise that Kirk would extend a hand, and a round of beer, at his establishment.

"For one hour or half an hour they talk, they have a drink and when they leave they shake hands [and say], 'See you tomorrow night,'" he said.

Kirk extended the invitation during his acceptance speech Tuesday night.

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