WASHINGTON--GOP Senate nominee Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) said if President Obama signs a health insurance reform bill into law--and if he is elected to the Senate--he would "lead the effort" for its repeal.
"As your senator I would lead the effort to repeal this bill," Kirk said.
The Obama White House roared back at Kirk on Wednesday. White House Senior advisor David Axelrod told the Chicago Sun-Times, "Given the great challenges America, and families across Illinois face today, the last thing we need is another Republican Senator in Washington who is more focused on tearing down the President than he is on solving problems."
Kirk's comments were made March 12 to the New Trier Republicans corn beef and cabbage dinner. Kirk's staffers refuse to release Kirk's campaign or governmental schedules in order to discourage routine press coverage, so remarks Kirk makes on the stump are rare. During the primary campaign Kirk's political operation declined--even after the fact--to release any details of where he went to speak or raise money.
The campaign of Democratic rival Alexi Giannoulias got the audio from someone who attended the event and provided it to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Kirk's remarks come as the Obama White House is scambling for 216 votes in the House to pass historic health care legislation, at the top of Obama's domestic agenda. No House Republicans are expected to vote for the legislation.
Kirk also called for making Obama--an Illinoisan who is one of the most popular figures in the state--a "one-termer."
Obama told Fox News Channel's Bret Baier on Wednesday "I'm confident that it's going to pass."
Here are key Kirk quotes from his New Trier talk. Axelrod's full reaction to Kirk follows.
"I will just say, if it goes through, there is one thing about the bill not commonly known, all of the pain of the bill is upfront, and all of the gain is later. The bill includes ten new federal taxes, and dramatic cuts for senior healthcare under Medicare between 2010 and 2014. The actual benefit of the bill doesn't start until 2014," Kirk said.
" In between this time and then, is a presidential election. If we can win in the White House, and we're on the way to making this guy a one term-er."
"If we move to repeal this bill in 2013, all your doing is removing the pain and not a single American would have benefited from it yet. As your senator I would lead the effort to repeal this bill. "
Here is the full statement White House Senior advisor David Axelrod told the Chicago Sun-Times
"As an Illinoisan, I have to say, I find his remarks disappointing," Axelrod told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Given the great challenges America, and families across Illinois face today, the last thing we need is another Republican Senator in Washington who is more focused on tearing down the President than he is on solving problems.
"And what's worse is that Congressman Kirk presents an independent in front of the cameras, but when he gets behind closed doors, at a Republican meeting, he thoroughly parrots the party line.
"Saying one thing to one audience and something different to another may be standard operating procedure in Washington, but it rightly frustrates people in Illinois and across the country. It's not the kind of politics we need.
"As for health insurance reform, people across Illinois and the country will have greater security this year, once the President signs this law.
"Small businesses will receive tax credits to help them afford health coverage for their workers.
"People with pre-existing conditions will finally have access to coverage they can afford.
"The lifetime caps on coverage that insurance companies impose today will be banned, and they will no longer be allowed to throw people off their coverage, just because they become seriously ill.
"The gaps in Medicare prescription coverage will be filled in, saving seniors across our state hundreds of dollars our of pocket.
"So if Congressman Kirk wants to travel our state and explain why he wants to take all that away and put insurance company bureaucrats back in the driver's seat, he should.
"It may titilate a roomful of partisans, but I don't think it's going to impress the people of Illinois," Axelrod said.