Mark Kirk says Mitt Romney will boost GOP ticket in Illinois
In endorsing Mitt Romney for president, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk contended today that rival Newt Gingrich was “brilliant” but didn’t always have good ideas and Ron Paul was proposing a dangerous isolationist foreign policy strategy for the country.
Kirk also said he believed Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, could help win independent support and help supply coattails to Republican congressional candidates running under a Democratic-drawn map in Illinois.
Kirk, who served five terms in the House before winning President Obama’s former Senate seat last year, said he believed the fluid contest for the GOP nomination, which starts Jan. 3 in Iowa, will still be going when Illinois holds its primaries on March 20.
“Initially we though the primary would be over, largely by the end of January or beginning of February,” Kirk said. “Now, if you look at the numbers, I think the Republican contest will likely last at least through the first week of April, meaning the March 20th Illinois primary will have a critical role in deciding who our nominee is and who the next president of the United States will be.”
Despite questions about Romney’s move to social conservatism, Kirk said the candidate was a solid fiscal conservative. “The election is not going to be about social issues at its core. It’s going to be about economics,” he said.
Dan Rutherford, the state treasurer and chair of Romney’s Illinois campaign, said supporters will file a full slate of nominating delegates for the former governor when candidacy petitions are due starting on Jan. 3.
Kirk also said that while Democrats drew new congressional districts to favor themselves, support for the home-state president is “underwater” in the suburbs and downstate, which should help GOP candidates for the House.
Kirk, who served as a congressional staffer before winning election to Congress, said Romney rival Gingrich, a former House speaker, is “brilliant, a great historian, very experienced on many issues.” But Kirk added that “in my personal experience with him, he has five big ideas a day and four of them are good.”
Kirk was more critical of Paul, the Texas congressman whose support is building in Iowa. Paul said at a recent debate that fears of Iran developing a nuclear arsenal appeared overblown and that the United States should not be planning another war.
“I do not think the United States should adopt a new 21st Century policy of isolationism. I think the 20th Century has two painful examples of what isolationism leads to for the United States—that’s Pearl Harbor after the isolationism of the 1930s and Sept. 11, after we pulled out of Afghanistan,” said Kirk. “We realized that isolationism can’t work and I don’t think it can work here.”
Kirk, a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, also said that if asked, the Obama administration should send a delegation to attend the funeral of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il on Dec. 28, even though his son, Kim Jung Un, is likely to be “as bad if not worse than his father.”
“There is a slight chance he could be better. And so if the North Koreans invite the United States to the funeral, we should send a delegation because we should always try to build a new relationship with the regime, even though it looks pretty bleak at this point,” Kirk said.
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