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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10) “fled reporters following an appearance at a luncheon in downtown Chicago” 6/21. He has “dodged reporters for a week after acknowledging he embellished stories about his military service.” He “ran from a pack of reporters” through “a back door through a kitchen prep area and onto a loading dock where a car waited for him” after speaking for about 20 minutes.
“The rapid departure came after Kirk offered his answers on a series of pre-arranged questions dealing with planning and urban growth issues such as public transit to Lake Michigan’s water levels” (Chase, “Clout Street,” Chicago Tribune, 6/21).
Kirk “has been on the defensive and has kept a low profile,” but “seemed to hint at the controversy” when he “recited a list of facts about the tough economy” during his speech before he “ducked out the back door.” Kirk: “Some may wonder if I’ve exaggerated the last points.”
He also “was quick to jab” at Treas. Alexi Giannoulias (D), who has proposed to set up a special fund to “modernize the nation’s infrastructure.” Kirk: “At least the FDIC wouldn’t close that bank.”
Kirk’s camp said he left without answering questions because he had another event to get to (Bellandi, AP, 6/21).
Crain’s Chicago Business’ Hinz says Kirk “literally ran out the hotel door rather than answer questions.” He “bolted” with the “media in hot pursuit” and jumped into the back seat of a black SUV “which instantly peeled out.”
“Frankly, I’m kind of stunned about this. Bad publicity is bad publicity, but there’s a way to not make it worse.” Kirk “can’t hide until” Nov., “he’s going to have to confront those nasty reporters sooner or later.” But “at least give” Kirk “credit for being fleet afoot. He moved so fast that none of the TV crews was able to get film of him.”
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life…
ABC 7’s Thomas reports that mortgage broker Mike Niecestro (I) “did not file petitions for a position” after vowing to run to the right of Kirk. Niecestro said “that his petition drive fell way short of its goal” because a “certain” GOP “politician” did “not make good on his promise to get” 45K. In fact, “according to Niecestro, the politician known as a ‘flake’ in GOP circles, delivered a goose egg.”
Ret. Marine Randy Stufflebeam (C) did file as part of the Constitution Party slate. But the Tea Party favorite said he filed only 34K signatures, which may fall short of the 25K needed after certification. “So self-described moderate Kirk is likely not to have conservatives on the ballot to take away right wing” votes.
“So it’s not all bad news for Mark Kirk. Despite his credibility issues and recent status as a ‘media fugitive,’ he’s still very much in the running. No pun intended” (“Precinct7,” 6/22).
They Can Do That? … Will It Still Be Green?
Meanwhile, Giannoulias was his “usual affable, if slightly flip, self” at the luncheon speech (6/21). He and Kirk agreed that the six-month drilling moratorium made sense, but disagreed about cap-and-trade. Giannoulias: “We need to put a price on carbon emissions.”
Kirk said that “would hurt business and deter job growth. He advocated building more nuclear power plants instead.” Giannoulias advocated reversing the Chicago River, back to its natural flow, but Kirk disagreed, saying that would “send pollution into the region’s drinking water supply.” Freelance writer LeAlan Jones (G) was also in attendance, and “disagreed with cap and trade, saying it ‘would put an undue burden on industry’” (Pyke, Arlington Heights Daily Herald, 6/21).
VP Biden attended a fundraiser for Giannoulias on 6/21, and he “came with a message: Alexi Giannoulias is going to win.” Biden: “The reports of the demise of the Democratic Party are premature.”
The race “apparently now seems worth the fight” to the WH, who is “suddenly doubling down to try and keep” the seat (Zeleny, New York Times, 6/21). Giannoulias, to Biden: “It would be the honor of my life to come to Washington, DC and be able to help you move this country forward” (Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/22).
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President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Facebook "outlined new measures it is taking to combat what it calls 'information operations' that go well beyond the phenomenon known as fake news" on Thursday. Facebook acknowledged that there are governments using its platform as a tool to launch propaganda information campaigns and "manipulate public opinion in other countries. ... Facebook suspended 30,000 accounts in France ahead of last Sunday’s first-round presidential election."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.