Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Election 2010


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 6:58 AM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Ill. Senate candidates spar over economy, records

The candidates for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat accused each other of lying, doing business with mobsters and driving up the nation's deficit Sunday during their first debate.

Associated Press Writers

CHICAGO —

The candidates for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat accused each other of lying, doing business with mobsters and driving up the nation's deficit Sunday during their first debate.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias said Republican opponent Mark Kirk has told "some real whoppers" during the campaign, from making false claims about his military service to calling himself a deficit hawk while supporting expensive tax cuts for the wealthy.

Kirk responded that Giannoulias, as an executive at his family's bank, lent money to "infamous mob figures." He also repeated accusations that Giannoulias helped drive Broadway Bank into the ground, causing it to fail earlier this year.

The debate on NBC's "Meet the Press" touched on many of the disputes and allegations that have produced an extraordinarily tight race. Polls show the two major party candidates essentially tied as Republicans try to capture Obama's former seat and Democrats aim to prevent an embarrassing loss.

The candidates displayed clear policy differences.

Giannoulias, who's currently serving as Illinois' state treasurer, defended Obama's handling of the economy, saying government stimulus programs had prevented a second Great Depression.

"That is a reality," he said.

Kirk, however, said the stimulus has largely failed. The five-term congressman from the Chicago suburbs said its main effect has been to drive up government debt, which Kirk called a "long-term danger to the American dream."

The two also differed over whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Kirk favors them, but Giannoulias said the tax cut would increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

But much of the debate was devoted to the candidates defending themselves against accusations of misconduct and dishonesty.

Giannoulias denied that his decisions as a loan officer contributed to Broadway Bank's failure. He also rejected Republican claims that he's a "mob banker" because the bank did business with at least two criminal figures.

Giannoulias said again that the bank knew the men had been in legal trouble but "didn't know the extent of that activity."

advertising

Giannoulias' brother Demetris told the Chicago Tribune previously that the bank knew Michael "Jaws" Giorango and Demitri Stavropoulos had been convicted of bookmaking and promoting prostitution before issuing them loans. The newspaper calculated Broadway Bank lent $27 million to Giorango before he went to prison, with about $20 million being extended while Alexi Giannoulias was a senior loan officer.

Meanwhile, Kirk was pressed on false statements about his career in the Navy Reserve.

Kirk, an intelligence officer, claimed he personally won an award that actually went to his entire unit. He has said he took part in first Iraq war when he didn't. He also once claimed to run the Pentagon war room when his duties actually involved only one part of the center's operations.

"I was careless, and I learned a very painful and humbling lesson," Kirk said.

He also said he came under fire on flights over Iraq and Kosovo, then stopped making that claim and wasn't willing to explain it. But in Sunday's debate, Kirk said he was in a "very confusing" situation when Iraqi forces opened fire as NATO planes flew over. He suggested it wasn't clear whether his squadron was targeted.

Giannoulias tried to link Kirk's credibility to policy issues, suggesting that voters couldn't be sure what he would do as a senator.

"More troubling to me are his votes in Washington, D.C.," Giannoulias said. "Here's someone who you don't know where he stands."

Host David Gregory asked the candidates to name two areas where they disagree with their party's platform.

Kirk cited his support for stem cell research, hate crimes legislation and health insurance for poor children. Giannoulias mentioned only the need for tighter oversight of the TARP bailout program, which was launched during the Bush administration.

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Politics

Others states' fights bring focus to Daniels

NEW - 07:13 AM
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is writing memoir

Bill would make jail mug shots available

Immigration, license bill voted down in state Senate

Rival Texas bills require sonograms before abortions

More Politics headlines...

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.


Get home delivery today!

Video

Advertising

AP Video

Entertainment | Top Video | World | Offbeat Video | Sci-Tech

Marketplace

Advertising