Just hours after the Democratic Party of Illinois released a statement criticizing Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) for remaining silent about Donald Trump’s racist attack on a federal judge, Kirk took the bold step of un-endorsing his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
Kirk, facing a tough fight with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to keep his Senate seat, released a statement saying, “While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.”
On Twitter, Kirk added that “Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.”
Many other Republicans have criticized Trump for repeatedly saying he doesn’t think U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel should preside over a case about Trump University because of his Latino heritage, but it appears Kirk is the first member of Congress to go on record as saying Trump’s comments have persuaded him to no longer support him in the general election.
Kirk has previously criticized Trump’s characterization of illegal immigrants who cross the Mexican border as “rapists,” but in recent months Kirk said he “certainly would” support Trump if he won the Republican nomination. In fact, Kirk said he thought candidate Trump could be a “net benefit” to his reelection bid. But in the wake of Trump’s blatantly racist comments, he apparently changed his mind.
Kirk’s move comes on the same day that news broke of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urging Republicans to un-endorse Trump.
“This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” Graham, speaking of Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel, told The New York Times. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it… There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”
Kirk and Graham join Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) in the group of Republican U.S. senators who openly oppose Trump.