Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Kirk, Giannoulias Illinois Senate second debate. ABC News Transcript

| No Comments

ABC News' Illinois Senate debate on October 19, 2010:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Good evening and welcome. It's great to be here in Chicago for tonight's Senate Debate. And the race could not be tighter between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. Gentlemen, welcome the you, as well. Tonight's debate is being presented by ABC 7 and the League of Women Voters in Illinois. We also have a lot of people watching on ABCNews.com and Facebook.

Joining me in the question tonight, ABC 7's Charles Thomas, political writer, Carrie Lester of the Daily Herald and Andy Shaw, executive director of The Better Government Association, long time reporter for WLS, as well. We want to get right to it tonight. We're gonna start with the opening statements. Each candidate will have an opening statement of one minute each. They had a draw. Alexi Giannoulias, you go first.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Thank you. This has been a tough and at times very negative campaign. But there is a lot at stake. Because of this devastating recession people across the state have lost their jobs, have lost their homes, and are struggling just to make ends meet. Tragically, the decisions in Washington, D.C. over the last decade have made things worse. Exploding budget deficits. Shipping jobs overseas. A failure to address our environmental challenges.

And record job loses that have decimated the American middle class. Congressman Kirk over the last decade has been a part, has been an architect of some of these decisions. Why in the world would we send the same people who created this mess back to Washington, D.C.? You deserve a Senator who will tell you the truth. Who will fight for you every day. And who will stand up to the special interests that rule Washington, D.C.

You may not always agree with me, but you will always know where I stand. And while I can't promise you that we'll fix all these problems over night, I will promise you that no one will fight harder and no one will work harder to make sure that you and your family have a shot at the American Dream.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Kirk?

MARK KIRK:
Thank you. I want to thank the League and I want to thank Channel 7 for having us here today. I ask for your vote to help grow this economy. Our country used to number our debt in billions. Now, it's in trillions. America was a creditor nation. It is now one of the top debtors to many foreign interests. How do we preserve the American Dream, when the average American today, when she or he is born, already owes the government $42,000? In this race, I am the candidate that will vote to spend less, to borrow less, and to tax less, to help save our economy. I am a fiscal conservative. A social moderate. And a national security hawk. A centrist, who will help bring thoughtful, independent leadership to Illinois and the United States Senate.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Okay, gentlemen, thank you very much. We're gonna go to questions right now. Andy Shaw, you're first.

ANDY SHAW:
Congressman Kirk, this campaign has featured an abundance of attack ads, character assaults, and mudslinging, and a notable lack of high level discourse on the important issues facing the next Illinois Senator. To what extent are you-- should you be held accountable by the voters of Illinois for the negative tone of the campaign, which has been disappointing to virtually everyone?

MARK KIRK: I think this campaign certainly has been about the resume and background, but at heart, when we vote on November 2nd, it will be about economic philosophy. If you're happy with the direction of the government right now. Of trillions in debt. Of increasingly are-- accelerating the spending of the Congress. And the grow of the-- growing of the government into our-- national life, then my opponent is your candidate.

But there is a growing voice in Illinois that wants a check and balance. That does not think that we should raise taxes in Springfield, like my opponent would like, or in Washington, D.C. And we need a new small business bill of rights. Ten new policies to help out the real number one employers, small business. Half of all the jobs. Eighty percent of the job losses. We know how Congress has hurt them. We don't know very much how the current Congress has helped them at all.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Mr. Giannoulias.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
You're right, Andy. This has been a brutal campaign. But it's brutal out there for a lot of families. And while we have tried to talk about our campaign and tried to talk about ideas, about investing in early childhood education, turn this economy around, changing the way things are done in Washington, D.C. Congressman Kirk and Karl Rove with their millions of dollars have a different agenda. That's politics.

To hear Congressman Kirk say that he taxes less, borrows less, and spends less is a tremendous irony, because there's no one in this race who's actually taxed more, spent more, and borrowed more. And Congressman-- you can call yourself a fiscal conservative all you want. We went from record budget surpluses to record budget deficits when you voted for every single one of the George Bush budgets.

That have-- been a part of the overspending, overtaxing, over-borrowing ethos in Washington, D.C. So to all of a sudden claim that you're a fiscal conservative when your record doesn't prove that, I think is important to voters. If you're thrilled with the way Washington, D.C. works. If you're thrilled with Washington, D.C. politics as usual. With Congressman Kirk and Karl Rove, then he's your man. If you want some fresh leadership and some new ideas,...we create the next generation of private sector jobs now. Then I'd be honored to have your vote.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
And you get a follow up.

ANDY SHAW:
Let me follow up by confronting the elephant in the room, the character issue. Congressman Kirk, what do you tell voters who wonder about a man who embellishes a resume. Mr. Treasurer, what do you say to voters who wonder about someone whose bank makes loans to unsavory characters and who is student loan program, Bright Start, virtually collapsed?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Congressman Kirk, I think you're first.

MARK KIRK:
I misstated a part of my military record. It's a painful process. I learned a big lesson from that. I apologized to the people of Illinois. I then released all 21 years of my officer fitness report. Service in Afghanistan. Service in Allied Force. Service in Northern Watch. It's made me a better Congressman and advocate for veterans and men and women who wear the uniform. And for me, the national security of the United States has been a life work of mine.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I am very proud of the community bank that my father started 30 years ago. And let's be clear, no one has ever suggested that the bank has ever done anything illegal, illicit, or improper. Never. The truth-- the difference-- between myself and Congressman Kirk is-- I've always told the truth. And principles matter. Values matter. And as I mentioned earlier, you may not always agree with me, but you will always know where I stand.

I will always tell you the truth. And that's what we need now more than ever. People are sick and tired of Washington, D.C. politics as usual. Congressman Kirk has to answer to voters on why he didn't tell the truth on his record. And I hope we-- have that discussion here tonight.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Carrie Lester, you get the next question.

CARRIE LESTER:
As Mr. Shaw mentioned-- each of your campaigns have been dogged by personal stories from the past. Mr. Kirk with-- allegations of an embellished resume and Mr. Giannoulias over the failure of your family's bank. Looking back at how you responded to those-- revelations. Coming out into the open. Up in-- out in the media. Do you feel you-- you should have done anything differently? Do you feel that-- that any of your statements may have ultimately discouraged voters?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I think back when I-- ran for State Treasurer, I probably should have done a better job, quite frankly, explaining-- the way that community banks decide whether or not to-- approve or deny a loan. They look at the credit worthiness of the borrower. They look at whether or not that individual can pay the loan. But again, we need to be clear on the facts. And I understand it's politics. No one has ever-- accused my father's business of doing anything-- illicit or improper.

And Congressman Kirk-- and Karl Rove-- have said a lot of things that are untrue and deeply offensive. I'm very proud-- of my father's business. I'm very proud of the fact that he came to this country and has helped thousands of people achieve the American Dream by helping them buy their first home, start their first business, hire another employee.

So, sure, it's very easy to cherry pick a few individuals out of thousands, out of thousands-- and make a nasty political ad. But any business owner will tell you that running a business is not a straight line. Of course, mistakes are made. Inevitably, unfortunately, there are people you wish you never would have done business with. But if we talk about-- who's right for moving this country forward. If we talk about who's gonna fight for middleclass families. There's a stark choice in this race. Congressman Kirk wants to fight for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. I want to fight for middleclass families that have been destroyed by this recession.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Mr. Kirk?

MARK KIRK:
Well, there is a big difference here. I made a mistake and I corrected it. I took ownership. As naval officers, we're trained to take command, to be responsible, accountable, and-- and for that, I am. And that's why I corrected the record. But the difference between me and my opponent is he made a number of mistakes. Betting his-- bank's future on the risky real estate loans.

Brokered hot money deposits. And loans to well-known convicted felons and mobsters like Michael Jaws Jarango. Even this-- mystery trip to-- Florida. In which you went to see him and his business. In which he ran a prostitution ring. When we saw the Broadway Bank collapse, you took no responsibility whatsoever. When we saw the Bright Star Program lose $70 million in college savings of Illinois families that trusted you, that wasn't your fault either. I think the difference also is in accountability. I'm not perfect. I made mistakes. But I owned them and corrected them. And meanwhile, my opponent, says nothing is really his fault.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Typical-- typical Washington, D.C. change the subject sleight of hand. Congressman says he's been accountable. Look, I've seen the Congressman's fitness reports. And they're impressive. But nowhere in those fitness reports does it answer any of the questions that have plagued him throughout this campaign. He keeps on pointing to these fitness reports to provide answers to these questions. But I've looked at the fitness reports. Nowhere in there does it say that he served-- in Iraq. Nowhere in there does it say he was shot at by Dutch peacekeepers. Nowhere-- does it say that he was shot at at all. On Meet The Press--

CARRIE LESTER:
The question was about how you handled your own situation. And if you felt you should have done differently.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
And as I mentioned, when I-- first ran for State Treasurer, I should have done a better job explaining the realities of how-- of how community banks work. But, you know, the Congressman said that-- he's holding himself accountable. And that's not true. I've looked at these fitness reports. On Meet The Press, David Gregory-- asked him whether or not he was shot at. And the Congressman never answered the question. So, the question, Congressman is-- why with this record, would you not tell the truth? Why would you make all this stuff up? Congressman, simple question. Were you shot at or not?

MARK KIRK:
But the ultimate irony that a man who spends most of his campaign for the Senate criticizing my military record and yet he never served a day in uniform himself.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Were you shot at or not?

MARK KIRK:
And when we see this that-- I have-- put my life on the line for the United States, as many of my fellow veterans have done. But your entire campaign is about a military record in which I served. I put it on the line. You were back in the rear-- with the gear. And I understand, you made that-- decision. And when we look at all of these-- bank loans to felons and mobsters. The people that were your business associates. And then on national TV you admitted-- "I didn't know the extent of the criminal activity of the people that I lent money to." From a federal licensed institution that then collapsed. And then you transferred a $390 million bill onto the back of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. I think you should have some apologizing to do, too.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Again, no answer to the question.

CHARLES THOMAS:
to Congressman Kirk. You have made fiscal responsibility a centerpiece of your campaign. Citing your opposition to the Obama Administration's economic stimulus, because of its cost. What different course or courses of action would you have supported in 2009 to stimulate the economy and get unemployed Americans back to work?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I think if we had a much smaller bill with a much larger amount of money for infrastructure, it could have gained bipartisan support. But a surprising amount of the stimulus-- spent money on social programs that had been rejected by the Congress for many years. And the failure of the stimulus, remember we were promised that unemployment would top out at eight percent by the Administration.

In Illinois, it's ten percent. And we have seen a raft of wasteful spending stories about what the stimulus tried to spend money on. And a real failure of its record. I think we could have built a bipartisan record on that bill, but instead, the lasting legacy of the stimulus will be a near trillion dollar debt leveled on the financial future of our kids. And much of that money borrowed from creditors who gave it to Uncle Sam expecting to be repaid with interest by our kids.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Again--

CHARLES THOMAS:
Mr. Giannoulias?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Again-- facts and records matter. Congressman Kirk voted for every single one of the Bush budgets that took us from record budget surpluses to record budget deficit-- deficits. More was added to our national debt during those eight years than in all the administrations in the history of the United States combined. President Obama was handed-- a one point-- a one and half trillion deficit the day he took office. And now Congressman Kirk voted against the largest middleclass tax cut in this country's history.

He voted against infrastructure projects. And again, The Recovery Act has not been a perfect bill. The question is what would have happened if we didn't have it? And economists across the board will tell you that-- The Recovery Act helped stem the Second Great Depression.

CHARLES THOMAS:
Congressman Kirk, could you be more specific about what you would have supported in terms of getting the economy righted? 2009?

MARK KIRK:
One of the tragedies of the stimulus was that it limited projects to shovel ready projects. Which means the big pay off projects, which, for example, in Illinois would have been fully funding the O'Hare Modernization Project. Or a new lock and dam system for Mississippi River for Illinois.

CHARLES THOMAS:
You believe that should have been funded?

MARK KIRK:
If that was funded, we would have a long term economic payoff. Instead what happened is especially the House Appropriations Committee, which largely wrote most of the legislation, was told spend nearly a trillion dollars. And take nearly every discarded social spending program off the table. Remember, every dollar by this Congress, 40 percent is-- is borrowed. Most of it from abroad.

One of the things I did right after the stimulus was passed was I went to the Bureau of the Public Debt and I asked the person who borrows money on behalf of the United States how much do we have to borrow per week? And he says, "Between servicing old debt and new, Congressman, we have to borrow $160 billion a week to make sure the Treasury doesn't run out of money." That is irresponsible in my view. And a growing chorus of people think that that is also completely unsustainable.

CHARLES THOMAS:
A follow up to Treasurer Giannoulias. Will you go to Washington to simply be a rubber stamp for the Obama Administration?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
No, of course not. And look, I-- have said repeatedly that-- I'm gonna vote my conscience. And if that means I disagree with Harry Reid. If that means I-- I disagree with the Administration, then I'll say so. I'm there to help the people of Illinois, not to be-- a typical Washington, D.C. party hat. Here's-- my plan. And here's my outline of my economic plan.

I believe in a job creation tax credit for small businesses that hire right now. I believe in a payroll tax holiday for low to moderate income workers. I believe we should have a permanent extension of the R & D tax credit. There's over one and a half trillion dollars that is sitting on the sideline in the private sector, we need to do everything we can to encourage the private sector to start hiring. To grow this economy. To invest in infrastructure. To create jobs right now, 'cause people are hurting in a very real way. And unfortunately, Congressman-- Congress has forgotten how tough it is out there on main street. We have an unemployment rate of just under ten percent in Illinois. We need to create jobs right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me follow up on Charles question. It's my question now for Mr. Giannoulias. You know, of all the Senate candidates in the country, you're probably closer to the President than any of the other candidates. No-- you're one of the few candidates who's actually advertising his relationship with the President. But no matter what happens on Election Day, there are gonna be fewer Democrats in the Senate. There are gonna be fewer Democrats in the House. So-- so, what-- as a friend of the President, what midcourse corrections would you advise him to take? Give me two specifics.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Well, I will give you two specifics. But I also think it's important to point out that again-- we are dealing with some-- enormous challenges when the President took office. That being said, there was an omnibus spending bill which had thousands of earmarks, a ton of pork, this is somewhere where I think the Congressman and I agree. I would have voted against it. I think the Congressman-- I think-- excuse me, that President Obama-- should have vetoed it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
I'm talking about going forward, though.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Going forward, I think we need to do everything we can, again-- to create a sense of urgency when it comes towards-- a clean energy future. I think it's-- a priority not just from a moral perspective, but from a national security, from a global competitiveness, and from a job creation standpoint. And we need to do everything we can to incentivize the private sector again to start hiring.

That means tax cuts. That means making it a better business environment. That means increasing access to capital. The biggest complaint I hear from my friends in the business community is how tough it is out there to get a loan. How tough it is out there-- to get a line of credit. And there is-- a bill that would provide $30 billion-- to community banks. $12 billion in tax breaks to middle to-- small business. This is something, by the way, that the Congressman voted against.

Those are the measures-- a bill that was completely deficit neutral. Those are the measures that we need. We need to increase access to capital. $1.8 trillion is sitting in Wall Street banks. Even conservatively if you-- if you leverage that out, that's $18 trillion in lending. We need to grease-- the wheels on the private sector.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Similar question for you, Congressman Kirk-- Sarah Palin-- yesterday said that the-- Republican Party is quote "through" if they don't follow the dictates of the Tea Party. What does the Tea Party get right and what do they get wrong?

MARK KIRK:
Well, certainly-- we should spend less, borrow less, and tax less to help this economy out. We are facing a-- $900 billion tax increase. If you look with the Congressional leaders and their plans. On December 31st, I think that threatens a double dip-- recession. I think if we look at-- the needs to cut spending, let's cut spending across the board, even including the Department of Defense.

For example, I voted to-- not have a second engine for the F-35 fighter. I sup-- strongly supported-- Secretary Gates' plan to close down joint forces command. I think spending restraint and I think-- we may have a-- line item veto proposal from the President. I hear that's coming. And Republicans should support it. Because any way that we reduce spending will help out the economy and the long term future of the United States so that we don't become such a debtor nation in hawk to every other country in the world.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
I'm not sure I got a direct answer to my question from either one of you. So, I'm gonna try one more time. First to you, Mr. Giannoulias, again, on the President's basic approach, what kind of midcourse correction, correction from his approach? You outlined his agenda. What kind of correction does he have to make?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Sure. As-- as I mentioned-- learning from-- mistakes in the past-- I think there is-- a focus on health care reform, which is something that I'm supportive of. And I think for the long term economic-- sustainability of this country-- is an important step. That being said, I think we should have had a laser-like focus on creating jobs.

If people aren't working, George, they're not gonna be able to pay their mortgages. And we're gonna continue to have-- a housing-- market collapse. If people aren't working, their kids aren't gonna afford-- to go to college. Losing a job is-- is more than just losing a paycheck, it affects your morale, it affects our communities, and it's making us a less secure nation. So, we need to do everything we can, again, to create private sector jobs and to stimulate the private sector.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
What did the Tea Party get wrong?

MARK KIRK:
I think the Tea Party is focused on-- fiscal conservative is good. But if you ask what is my independence from the Republican Party, I've been very independent. I have backed stem cell research. I have backed the-- the S-CHIP program for-- in-- for-- low income kids have health insurance.

The Hate Crimes Bill, when it went through the House was the-- Conyers/Kirk Bill (PH) to make sure. And that is now the law of the land. I voted to cut-- oil subsidies for big-- oil companies. In the end, I've had one of the most independent voting records-- in the-- House of Representatives. And when the Daily Herald endorsed me over my opponent, they said I was Mr. Independent.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Andy Shaw.

ANDY SHAW:
Gentlemen, Illinois is a fiscal basket case. Virtually bankrupt. A $13 billion budget deficit. $6 billion in unpaid bills. An $80 billion unfunded pension liability. Now, the Federal Government found time and money to bailout big banks and Wall Street and giant insurance companies and the auto companies. To what extent is the Federal Government responsible, if at all, for bailing out virtually bankrupt states like Illinois? And under what conditions would you support some sort of a bailout so that there's not governmental Armageddon in states like Illinois? Congressman Kirk, why don't you take a crack at this first?

MARK KIRK:
Well, the Illinois-- economic situation for our state is-- is terrible. And, of course, my opponent is the State Treasurer, who has presided over much of this. Unpaid bills by the State of Illinois have gone from $1 to $5 billion, according to the Chicago Tribune just this year. All three credit ratings have downgraded the State of Illinois debt. Recently, the State of Illinois even-- went hat in hand to European-- creditor and asked to borrow money.

And had to pay a higher interest rate than Mexico, a country whose-- economy and currency collapsed in 1982. I don't think the Federal Government should further bailout such fiscal irresponsibility by the state. I think we should roll back much of the sending decisions made by Governor Blagojevich. Now an indicted and convicted felon. And return fiscal responsibility to the State of Illinois. Without someone bailing out even more irresponsible decisions led by the current team that runs the State of Nil-- Illinois, including my opponent.

ANDY SHAW:
Bailout by the Feds, Mr. Treasurer?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Again, we've got some enormous challenges here in Illinois. I've been screaming from the rooftops as State Treasurer. And while I don't have a vote on these issues, I do have a voice. We talked about pension reform from the very beginning. Unlike Congressman Kirk who has doubled our national debt, we've actually found ways to-- to cut our discretionary spending when needed. We've streamlined services in the State Treasurers Office. I've cut my workforce by 17 percent my predecessor has it.

So, to hear Congressman Kirk-- rail against these bailouts, here's someone who voted twice. Proudly said he voted twice for bailouts of the biggest Wall Street banks. But voted against the Recovery Act, which provide-- which a third of the Recovery Act provides emergency-- stimulus and funding to states and municipalities that have been devastated. And again, the State of Illinois, this is not a problem that's happened for the last three, four, five years. This is a 25-year problem. Fund sweeps, chronic underfunding of the pensions.

The truth of the matter is, going forward, states provide emergency aid to a lot of families. Social service providers. School districts. So, the Federal Government needs to be responsible partner. My biggest problem with the Recovery Act, Andy, was that when money was given to states and municipalities, there was no requirement that there was some sort of-- budget constraint. Some sort of accountability to make sure that only if you get this money-- you only get this money-- if you make some corrections to the way you-- operate your yearly budgets.

ANDY SHAW:
You don't think that's a good idea? Some have suggested a virtual Race to the Top approach to bailouts. In other words, "Prove to me that you can cut and you can raise revenues and you can streamline, and then we'll talk about some line of credit." Does that make sense? Or do you roll-- do you rule out bailouts of any sort?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I think that what you said at first makes sense. Again-- when money was given to states and municipalities, that was an opportune time-- to use the Federal Government's leverage to make sure there's some accountability. To make sure that every year there weren't fund sweeps and-- a lack of paying their yearly pension obligations. To make sure that states and municipalities-- live within their means. So, yes.

ANDY SHAW:
Congressman Kirk, are there conditions under which you'd support Federal assistance, if only in the form of a line of a credit? If they cut budgets and streamlined and raised revenues, would you then entertain the idea of some sort of credit line that would enable them to keep government running without decimating education and services?

MARK KIRK:
Certainly. For example, I voted for Amendment this summer that cut a whole number of federal programs and provided some assistance to the states. But it was completely revenue neutral. And it was a surprising set of decisions by-- Speaker Pelosi to actually identify many stimulus programs which were a complete waste. And actually cut funding and provide-- to key programs.

But it's interesting, my opponent just said, he criticized me for voting for the TARP program. And yet, during the Chicago Tribune endorsement session, after a painful to watch session, he admitted that he would have voted for it, as well. And yet, he criticizes me for that vote. Also in that session, the Tribune asked him, "Name one spending program or bill that you could identify." He couldn't name one. And they said, once again, "Painful to watch." Which I think is part of the reason why they endorsed me over my opponent for this office.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Carrie Lester.

CARRIE LESTER:
The Dream Act. Legislation aimed at helping children who are in the United States illegally become citizens. Has become one of the flashpoints in the contentious debate over illegal immigration. Will you each please detail if you support or oppose the measure and how you would vote if this came up in the Senate?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
My position is clear. I-- I am in favor of the Dream Act. I'm in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. I'm proud of the leadership that Senator Durbin, our Senior Senator has shown on this issue. And this goes to the broader issue. People want leaders. They want to hear where you stand on different positions. They asked Congressman Kirk just a few weeks ago where he stands on the Dream Act. A bill that's been out there for ten years. And he said-- he hasn't read it yet. He hasn't seen it yet. Well, that's not leadership. We can't afford to tear these families apart. These are young men and women-- who want a chance, a shot at the American Dream.

CARRIE LESTER:
Mr. Kirk?

MARK KIRK:
I think that first we have to restore the trust of the American People in the ability to-- administer our own border. Right now, that trust is completely broken. There are two candidates in this race. I'm the Spanish speaking candidate. Went to school in Mexico. Very much care about that country. President-- Calderon has in a death struggle with drug cartels. And says that he doesn't have full control of four of the 32 states of Mexico.

We've already seen that Phoenix has become one of the kidnap capitals of the Western Hemisphere. We don't want that kind of violence-- spreading across onto our side. Remembering, of course, our status in Illinois as being the state with the highest number of per capita gang members-- in the state. I think if we restore that trust, if we close down the border, if make sure that for the homeland security of the United States, we accomplish a fundamental mission of understanding who is coming into the country. We reward legal immigrants, who have played by the rules. Then we open up the space for the rest of the debate. But until you restore that trust, I don't think we can move forward. And we should restore that trust.

CARRIE LESTER:
But Congressman, if this came up for a vote before all that is done, what are you gonna do? How are you gonna vote?

MARK KIRK:
This is not the time to do this. We have a decisive, bipartisan majority right now for border control. For making sure the United States can defend itself and make sure that illegal entry into the United States is not possible. And that all of the other problems that could come with it are secured from the American People.

And we have a set of leaders in Washington right now that are out of touch with the American People. I will tell you that the rank and file members of both parties that I work with are ready for a border control measure. And they're ready to establish trust. And once we do that, the rest of the debate can happen. But until that time, we have a set of leaders, the Speaker and the Majority Leader, who are not interested in border control. Who want a different agenda. And I think we'll have new leaders soon. And then we can step by step work on this problem by restoring that border control trust.

CARRIE LESTER:
So, are you saying that if this came up in the next few months, you would vote no then?

MARK KIRK:
I think we need to get border control first. That's the first piece of legislation. And I will tell you that there is a decisive bipartisan majority of Democrats and Republicans that want to get that done first.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Carrie, this is what people are sick and tired of in Washington, D.C. You asked him a simple question. I asked him a simple question. He refused to tell his position on-- a-- the Dream Act. I've made my position clear. I am for a responsible path to citizenship. Absolutely we need to secure our borders. That needs to be the first thing we do. But just give 'em an answer Congressman. They may not always agree with you. Just tell 'em the truth. Tell 'em where you stand so they can make their decision on Election Day. It's important.

As I mentioned earlier, you may not always agree with me, but I'll always tell you where I am on positions. I don't just put my finger in the wind and take up positions the way that Congressman Kirk has. Someone who votes for cap and trade and says he does it for the national security interest of the United States. And then runs-- to the right of the Senator-- a Senate candidate and says that he would never vote that way again. He only voted that way for the narrow interest of his district.

Someone who on a Monday afternoon says he wants to protect 6,000 teachers from losing their job-- jobs, which I was proud of. And then 18 hours later, goes to Washington, D.C. on a Tuesday afternoon and votes against them. That's not leadership. So, let's hear where you stand on the Dream Act. Let's hear where you stand on whether or not you were shot at. These are simple questions.

MARK KIRK:
Border control first. Then later on the rest.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Charles Thomas.

CHARLES THOMAS:
Congressman Kirk, earlier this month during a conference call, you described your campaign's "voter integrity program." Saying it would focus on the south and west sides of Chicago. Rockford and Metro East, where your opponents might quote "jigger the vote somewhat." The areas you mentioned include large numbers of African Americans who in past elections have voted heavily Democratic. Can you explain how this program-- or whether this program is or is not targeted at African Americans?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
It's not. Now, remember, Metro East is 84 percent non-African American. It's-- for a statewide voter integrity effort to help poll watchers across America-- across the State of Illinois, to make sure that we have a free and fair election. It's probably no surprise that with the last two chief executives of the State of Illinois convicted felons, that we have a corruption problem in our state. In fact, according to the Justice Department now, we're one of the six most corrupt states in America. We've become a punch line on night-- late-night television. It's interesting that my opponent, soon after this was announced, said he's going to launch his own voter integrity operation, and I think he was quite surprised when I said, "That's good." Because if we have a Republican and a Democrat poll watcher increases across Illinois, we have a shot at a free and a fair election. And in the state now known as the most corrupt in America, that's a good thing.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I think it's clear what happened. You got-- Congressman Kirk got caught on tape saying that he wants to put, quote, "voter integrity programs." And what it is, on the south side, on the west side of Chicago. Parts of Rockford. In-- in areas of east St. Louis that he calls them, the same, goons and thugs are responsible-- for what took place in Florida in 2000.

There's no voter integrity, and I'll tell you why his comments aren't true. Because there's never been an accusation of fraud on the west and south side of Chicago. Congressman, at a time when we should be encouraging people to vote, you're trying to suppress the African American vote, and that's unacceptable. It's dangerous.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
Again, with the--

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
And try--

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
It's the-- in the last month.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
It flies in the spirit of our democracy. We're on the south and west side of Chicago where they voted for our policy.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
We had-- we had a conviction just in Chicago recently, and in Metro--

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
On the south and west side of Chicago.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
But it is no secret that there is corruption in the State of Illinois, and you of all people--

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
On the south and west side of Chicago--

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
You of all people should know--

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
On the south and west side of Chicago.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
--there is corruption in the State of Illinois.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Exactly. There's your answer.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
Okay. Clearly, it's an amazing statement that someone would assert that there is no corruption in this state.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Well, you said there's voter fraud. I'm just asking you where's the voter fraud in the south and--

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
You've had recent convictions.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
But you-- you guys are going-- one of you is-- is going to represent Illinois in a-- in all-White Senate. How are you going to-- are you going to do anything extraordinary to represent African Americans once you get there, given the fact that there-- there aren't going to be any-- any others there?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Well, obviously-- this is an historic state. I've spoken to President Obama about this, and-- and as you know, I worked hard to make sure he was President of the United States. I've talked to Congressmen-- Bobby Rush about what kind of Senator we want for the African American community, what kind of Senator we want for the people of Illinois, and he told me not since Senator Welston has there been a true fighter for middle-class families, for poverty-stricken families.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
But what will you do-- will you make-- take any extraordinary steps to make sure that-- that voice is heard?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Absolutely. I want to work with-- President Obama. I want to focus on like the concepts, like the neighborhoods and more integrative approach to our inner-cities. I want to make sure we fully fund ceasefire. I want to make sure we fully fund the Youth Promise Act. I want to work hard to get guns off our streets, and provide these young men and women in the inner-city options. That's my fight, that's my struggle.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Congressman Kirk?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I think we need an entrepreneurial renaissance in the African American community, so that people are not dependent on just the government program, but have a business, a job, dignity, and real power. One of the ideas that I would bring to the Senate and hope would pass would be take any vacant property, vacant-- commercial property for two years, certified by the mayor, and then subject to no federal tax for the next ten years if an investor came in, built jobs, and made the inner-cities in America exciting to build a business again. I think we also need to work with the communities to dry up the supply of recruits for the gangs.

Like Reverend-- John Ike Cables, Jesus Named Apostolic Church-- a Smarties program, which has helped to do this. And finally, we need an effort to take out the big gang leaderships themselves. The gangster disciples, the Vice Lords and the Latin Kings, that prey on kids, especially in junior high school.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
You have the next question. It's actually a question that came to us from Facebook. And I-- I think we can put it up on the screen. It's from Thomas Kage, a 23-year-old college graduate, from Mount Vernon, Illinois. Here's what he had to say, and this question is for you, Mister Giannoulias. I am part of the generation of people who are becoming known as a lost generation. We're suffering from unemployment at the very least, underemployment. This campaign, like so many across the country, has really been more about making the other guy look bad rather than telling us what you want to do to improve our situation. And this is the important part. We need to hear more than create jobs, cut spending, or the typical political talk. He is asking you to throw away the script. Tell Thomas Kage something new.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Well, my answer would be we need to focus on education. A decade ago, we're the number-one country-- in the world when it came to the percentage of young men and women that graduate with a college degree. We are now number 12 and dropping.

I think joint programs like-- Race to the Top are-- a smarter way of incentivizing local school districts and states to work together. With that being said, I think we need a more integrative approach. I like the model of the Harlem Children's Zone, which focuses on afterschool programs, mentorship. A stronger education system. And I believe we need to increase the size of Pell grants. Invest in community colleges.

Have a focus on early childhood education, from zero to five. All models have shown for every dollar you invest in early childhood education, there's at least a $17 return. But until we turn this economy around, until we create the next generation of private sector jobs, move towards a clean energy future, where we invest in solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, retrofit our buildings, invest in infrastructure, those changes aren't going to take place. And that's a fundamental difference in this race.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I worry sometimes the next generation sometimes has been called the ninja generation. No job or no income, no job, or-- assets. I think we should focus on education, and especially, we need a national dialogue on not allowing kids to drop out after two years of high school. I think as a 21st century economy, we needed four years of high school, and prepare kids-- many more of them to-- to join the ranks of-- college-educated Americans.

Also, one of the key ideas that I would like to bring into the Senate is reigniting public-private partnerships for infrastructure development. In many ways, we have forgotten our own economic history. We all know the Lincoln administration, because it was the victor in the Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation. But what was the third biggest thing that it did. Some would say it was the 1862 inter-- transcontinental railway act that was the ultimate public-private partnership in getting infrastructure going.

We have seen in Indiana this kind of thing ignite the economy. Where Governor Daniels has done a very good job in having economic growth in his state while Illinois has fallen behind. It's that kind of-- new thinking that we would bring to the Senate.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Turn the question around, and I'll start with you on this Mister Kirk. Cash, and other members of the Washington, what do they have to do that they're not doing now?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
Number-one thing is to-- up credential, to stay in school. Like, for example, I voted-- us to lower-- the cost of student loans, and-- to increase the amounts of Pell grants. I don't think that we should adopt legislation that the Congress has moved forward to have a complete government takeover of all student loans. That eliminates options that were very much needed-- for students.

I think we've also got to look at east as well as west. The big export markets of the United States are in Asia. And so, understanding these societies and making sure that we can-- expand-- key Illinois exports like the Peoria community based out of Caterpillar. The Cloud City community, based on-- John Deere. The Petunia community, based on--.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
good paying job in this country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Okay, Thomas, if you were watching on Facebook, I want you to write in and tell us what you thought about both answers. We're going to go now to Andy Shaw with the next question.

ANDY SHAW:
Gentlemen, in the desert of polarized politics, there's one oasis of bipartisan. Both parties have overspent in the federal budget for years and years. And I'm wondering, if you go to D.C., facing these multitrillion shortfalls, where do you look to cut? What one or two places do you look first, and what is sacrosanct, what wouldn't you touch? I think Congressman Kirk, you go first here.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I think first of all, you have-- across the board-- spending reductions, and no-- department is-- exempt. I've talked about the cuts that I would make, for example, in the DOD-- budget. Also, cuts-- for example, a totally wasteful sugar program, in which I've had a powerful allergy-- Mayor Daly.

I turned against earmarks, became the-- first member of the Appropriations Committee to not earmark. Led the fight in the House against the Bridget to Nowhere. And by the way, it was the bridges to nowhere, and they will not be built. We need a line-item veto. President Clinton used it 92 times to strike out federal spending.

The Supreme Court eliminated it, but the new version that I hope Senat-- or President Obama comes forward with-- will be approved by the Congress. Paul Simon's balanced budget amendment to the Constitution was the right idea. It's the right idea now. A new grace commission, with base-closing powers to really get its-- its policies through on an up or down vote, and it will be an up vote in both House and Senate, and I could keep going on.

ANDY SHAW:
Mister Treasurer, do you have a similar list?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Four things. The first is we need to immediately do everything we can to promote economic growth. When people aren't working they're not paying taxes, that's less revenue long term. Again, when people aren't working, when they don't have jobs.

ANDY SHAW:
But that's not a budget cut.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
But it's important. It's an important-- investment to make. The second thing we need to do-- is enact pay gold legislation, something that the Congressman voted against, to end these deficit-busting budgets that have been-- all too familiar in Washington D.C.

The third thing we need to is let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. We don't have $700 billion to give to millionaires and billionaires. And the fourth thing is, when the deficit commission comes out with their report in December, we're going to need a bipartisan spirit. We're going to have to take a long hard look at some very difficult decisions we're going to have to make, and because--

ANDY SHAW;
Gentlemen-- sorry.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
--this country has lived-- within its means for a very long time-- Andy, we're going to have to take our medicine. We need people who are willing to make-- tough decisions.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Corruption is, of course, the big story in Illinois, but it also exists at the federal level. So, let me ask each of you what single ethical or transparency-related-- law or statute or provision would you fight for when you get to D.C. in the hopes of giving people a better government? Either one of you first. Congressman?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
First of all, I-- helped-- get through legislation to cancel the pension for any member of Congress convicted of a felony. And I think we should expand from the very limited-- four felonies that Speaker Pelosi allowed to the full list of 21 felonies that are the public integrity felonies identified by the-- by the Justice Department.

We also need to end the earmark system, which has become horribly corrupt with-- with-- the-- as we talked about, the Bridge to Nowhere, the rainforest-- in Iowa, the Miss Texas museum, et cetera. Going forward, I think we need to have more transparency, especially on the-- federal campaign side.

I broke with my party early and backed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation. Now we need to go further, and have all candidates disclose contributions within 24 hours on the internet. And for all of these groups that are helping out, my opponent and I, supposedly in this race, that we should have all of the donors disclosed.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Mister Treasurer?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
This is probably the starkest choice in this race. If you turn the TV on after or before this, you're going to see that Karl Rove and the independent expenditures that are fueling-- Congressman Kirk's commercials every single day are having a dangerous impact on the future of our democracy. Which is why I am very proud to be the first candidate in the history of Illinois to run for the U.S. Senate, not to take money from federal lobbyists and corporate packs. We have to end the special interest group on Washington D.C. politics.

The Wall Street Journal called Congressman Kirk a pig at the trough, one of the most prolific special interest fundraisers in the history of the U.S. Congress. I am fully in favor of helping Senator Durbin pass comprehensive-- campaign finance laws. I think Citizens United was-- was a dangerous step backward. Congressman Kirk says he supports that decision. Congressman Kirk has taken over $10,000 from the Citizens United-- pact.

There is a very important vote on the Disclose Act-- which would-- put some safeguards in place, just so we know who's spending this money. Congressman Kirk is against the Disclose Act. That is a fundamental difference. Until there's significant campaign finance reform, until there's filibuster reform, things aren't going to get better in Washington D.C. As you turn your TV on, they're only going to get worse. We can't afford to let Karl Rove come into town and steal these elections.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Carrie Lester.

CARRIE LESTER:
A federal judge last week ruled the stop enforcement of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, banning openly gay troops from serving in the military. The-- Obama administration wants Congress to repeal the law. Would-- would you please explain whether you support or oppose the court decision, and-- how you would vote on repeal of the law if it did come in the Senate?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Yes, Carrie, I am for the immediate repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I agree with our-- military leaders. We have kicked out over the years almost 14,000 men and women. Fourteen-thousand men and women who are willing to die for this country. We told 'em they're not good enough.

Meanwhile-- we are letting felons-- and other individuals into the military. We're one of the only industrialized nations to do so. It's wrong. It goes against the spirit of what this country was founded on. It makes us a less secure nation at a time when we need-- the right personnel. So, we have no business telling these people who want to die for this country that that's unacceptable. I am for the immediate repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I voted to continue the current policy, and-- I'm a little confused as to what the administration's policy is right now. At first, Secretary Gates said he wanted to wait until the Joint Chiefs of Staff who actually run our military put forward their recommendations in December. Then a federal judge struck down the policy. Then the administration moved to block that federal judge and its striking down the policy. I'm totally confused as to where the administration is.

I think we ought to listen to the men and women who run the U.S. military. It is one of the most complicate organizations on Earth. Operating in all 24 time zones, and if you remove a policy, speaking from some military experience, you've got to be able then to look in the eyes of a first sergeant or a chief and say, what is the new policy. How are we going to run this ship or this platoon today. And without a replacement, you cause confusion in the ranks.

CARRIE LESTER:
As a follow-up question to you both-- where do you stand on gay marriages and civil unions, and-- do you believe that it's the federal government's responsibility to take that up? Or should it be decided on a state-by-state basis?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Well, to answer your first question-- I am in favor of full marriage equality. I believe that this country was founded on fairness, on treating people equal-- equally. That's how my parents-- raised me. And I think we're going to look back in 20 or 30 years and be embarrassed that we didn't work-- move sooner on this.

I'm not saying we should stuff this down any church or religion's throat. But I'm saying if my fiancée and I can have certain rights and go to City Hall, and have certain hospital visitation, certain pension rights, then we should let that be available for everyone. We have bigger problems to focus on. Let's remember what this country's all about. And again, we're going to look back, and be embarrassed that we didn't act soon enough.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I-- I oppose gay marriage, and-- I support civil unions. But I also don't think we should have a federal takeover of all marriage law in the United States. I think the federal government is already trying to take over too much.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Charles Thomas?

CHARLES THOMAS:
I want to go back to negative political advertising as allowed under the Citizens United-- decision, because I don't think that Congressman Kirk was-- was able to fully address-- the issue. Do-- do you believe that these-- these-- these entities, such as American Crossroads-- should disclose their donors and-- and who's behind them? And would you urge those who have assisted your campaign to reveal to Illinois voters who's actually behind these-- these negative ads?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I think all of the groups that-- are entering Illinois to support my opponent, the big unions, and-- and all their operations, and the ones trying to support me-- should reveal their donors, and should be fully transparent. There's a real difference, also, in-- in what I would call the Paul Harvey rest of the story on my opponent. He says he doesn't take money from federal lobbyists, but he takes tens of thousands of dollars from state lobbyists. Many of whom have direct business before your office.

He says he doesn't take money from corporate packs, but he is so aligned with the unions, he wouldn't raise any money from corporate packs, but he does take money from union packs. It's the rest of the story constantly with my opponent that you have to look into. The (UNINTEL) losses, the bank loans, the federal lobbyists not taking, but state lobbyists to take money from, no corporate packs, but you take a ton of money from union packs.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I have to give the Congressman credit. He is a great politician. He didn't come close to answering your question. He never does. Instead, he does a beautiful turnaround. Karl Rove is coming here, and American Crossroads, with exorbitant sums of money. They're trying to determine for the people of Illinois who their next Senator, who their leader will be will in Washington D.C.

There is a Citizens United Supreme Court decision which I am vehemently against-- against. I think it's a step backwards. There's a Disclose Act, again, which would put some basic rudimentary safeguards in place. Say who-- funds it. Don't let foreign corporations decide who your next Senators are. But again-- we shouldn't be surprised at someone at the Wall Street Journal called a pig at the trough, one of the most prolef-- prolific special interest fundraisers in Congress-- is-- afraid to take them on. He's bought and paid for by-- Wall Street firms, which is why he voted for the bailouts of the biggest banks in the world, proudly, twice, then voted against-- suspending executive pay bonuses six times. And then, votes against Wall Street reform. And then-- he's owned by the health insurance companies. Votes their way every single time. This is typical Washington D.C. politics. People are sick and tired of it.

CHARLES THOMAS:
If elected and serving in the United States Senate, and a Constitutional amendment to basically nullify the effects of Citizen-- the Citizens United decision should come up, how would you vote? Would you vote for a Constitutional amendment? To basically nullify-- Citizens United.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
Charles, are you asking me.

CHARLES THOMAS:
Yes.

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
First of all, I-- I would-- I would not. I think the key issue is disclosure. That we need-- reforms that have every candidate or every group seeking to influence election-- disclose their donors. And secondly, we should do it within-- 24 hours on the internet. But in this debate, I would have to say, Alexi, there you go again. You've just criticized me a second time for voting for the TARP legislation when you told, on tape, and on camera, the Chicago Tribune that you would've voted for it as well. So, are-- are you flip-flopping on that now?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I would've voted for it. I said I would.

CHARLES THOMAS:
We're getting off the subject. I-- I would like to-- for you to answer the question about a Constitutional amendment if-- if it has to get to that.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Charles, I'll-- I'll actually answer your question. I'm-- I would be in favor of a Constitutional amendment. I think this was a dangerous decision by the Supreme Court. We're seeing what's happening on our airwaves with Karl Rove.

You know, Mark Kirk helped Karl Rove destroy the economy, and now Karl Rove is repaying the favor with millions of dollars. That's-- that's-- flies in the face of what this democracy shall be about. Senator Durbin has worked hard on campaign finance reform. We need to pass the Disclose Act. And if it comes to a Constitutional amendment, I would be favor of it, Charles.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Whichever one of you wins this race will have a chance to vote for Supreme Court-- nominees. And probably the most controversial nomination-- of the last generation is back in the headlines today. We reported that-- Jenny Thomas, she's the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, also the head of a Tea Party affiliate called Liberty Central, called Anita Hill this weekend, and asked her to consider apologizing-- to her husband, Justice Thomas. So-- so, Congressman Kirk, does Anita Hill owe Clarence Thomas an apology, or is it the other way around?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
I-- I think that's long ago and far away. My-- my-- my philosophy on judges is that judges should make-- decisions based on the interpretation of the law, not making new laws. The genius of our system is that laws should be made by elected representatives of the American people, who then stand accountable in the very next election, before their constituents of their Congressional district or their state.

In-- in the consideration of the judges we've just had with Justice-- Sotomayor, I felt that she was-- too forward-leaning on making new laws, and was very open about that. So, I would've opposed her. But with Justice Kagen, I applied-- Alexander Hamilton's federalist-- standard that says it is not up-- up to individual Senators to make the appointment. It's up to them to see if the President's appointment is appropriate, is not subject to family favor or some sort of corruption, and to see if it's the best appointment they think that this President at this time would make. And so, I announced that I would favor Justice Kagen's-- appointment. Going forward, I would-- hope that we would have federal judges that were largely conservative, small c in nature. That always-- deferred as much as possible to the elected representatives of the American people-- to-- make the laws, and then the justices interpret them.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
I know, but I'm just trying to get your sense of what was a single cultural and political moment. Would you have voted for Justice Thomas?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
For-- for Justice Thomas, I think Justice Thomas was confirmed. He's a good-- Supreme Court justice. But I will tell you-- I'm looking forward. And I'm looking forward especially at assessing-- the-- the nominations that-- President Obama as our President would make. With one, I felt that he-- he erred with a justice that was too forward-leaning.

With the other, I felt that Justice Kagen was careful and considered, not because she thought she would get the appointment, but because she was careful and considered. And it was his choice to make, and I thought it was a pretty good one.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Treasurer Giannoulias, I'd like you to answer my question as well in a follow-up, and I'll give you the follow-up now-- right now. Is there any member of the Supreme Court who's been appointed by a Republican president on the court right now that you would've supported? But first, the question about Anita Hill.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
You know, again, I'll-- I'll finally like to agree with Congressman Kirk. I think-- that's passed. Going forward, obviously, the next U.S. Senator has-- some important decisions to make, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court. We have to understand that the Constitution is a living document-- document. I think we need folks who are practical, who are fair-minded, and who understand that their decisions have a very tangible impact on people's everyday lives.

The biggest example of that, again, is the Citizens United decision. Which is having a devastating impact on our elections, and the future of this democracy. So, if you don't think-- who your next Supreme Court justice is, these decisions have a real impact on our lives.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
I think every member in the majority in that decision was appointed by a Republican president. So, I'll ask the question again. Is there any Supreme Court justice appointed by a Republican on the court today that you would've supported?

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
I can't think of any offhand. Again, I think the activist-leaning-- court right now is-- is doing a lot of damage-- to our democracy.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Okay, it is time now for the closing statements. You each get a minute. And we begin with Mister Giannoulias.

ALEXI GIANNOULIAS:
Well, thank you-- for having us. And-- let me just say that tonight we saw a stark difference between myself and Congressman Kirk, who he wants to fight for and who I will fight for. But ultimately, it's not about me, and it's not about Congressman Kirk. It's about real people that are dealing with real problems.

Just two days ago, I had a chance to meet a young lady named Callie. Last summer, Callie lost her job. Seven months pregnant, just bought a new home, just married. She lives in your district, Congressman. For over a year, Callie hasn't been able to find a job. Hundreds of interviews, hundreds of résumés sent out, she's scared and concerned about the future. She's not sure what's going to happen to her family. She's not sure what's going to happen in five years, in ten years, in one year. To her-- to her and her daughter, Naomi. You see, Callie doesn't want or expect federal government to fix every problem in her life.

She doesn't want a handout or a bailout. She just wants to know that someone is fighting for her. She wants to know that someone is taking her struggle and her anger to Washington D.C. Well, Callie let me tell you this. Your struggle is my struggle. Your fight is my fight. And your anger is my anger. I will make you very proud as your next United States Senator, and I will always fight for people who don't want a handout or a bailout. They just want a shot-- a shot at the American dream, and the way that my parents, two immigrants, did when they came to this country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Congressman?

CONGRESSMAN KIRK:
This could be the most important election for the United States Senate in America today because due to a federal court ruling, you will have the opportunity to vote twice for United States Senate. First, to elect a Senator for six years starting in January, and secondly, to elect a Senator for 60 days, starting right away after the election.

You may have heard that Congressional leaders are planning on a lame-duck session of Congress, a new round of huge spending and taxing bills that I think will hurt the economy, and threaten a double-dip recession. Their agenda could include a trillion-dollar spending bill. A bill to take away your right to a secret ballot in a union election.

And-- beginning of a debate on a new national sales tax called a value-added tax to drain the U.S. economy of money, and make sure that the government is as large as the one in European states. I seek to be that-- fiscally conservative socially moderate voice that would defend your right to a secret ballot, that would oppose a national sales tax, and that would reign back spending in Washington.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
Gentlemen, thank you both. Illuminating debate. I want to thank my fellow panelists as well. Thanks also to the League of Women Voters of Illinois for their assistance with this debate, and the Illinois Broadcast Association, also ABCNews.com, and Facebook. A lot of thank yous to get through tonight. Most importantly, thank you for watching. Please get out and vote on November 2nd. Have a good night.

Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 20, 2010 9:46 AM.

Rep. Mike Quigley not running for Chicago mayor. Statement was the previous entry in this blog.

Giannoulias, Kirk second Senate debate: Lynn Sweet, Abdon M. Pallasch is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.