Sen. Kirk – ‘Cannot, will not support Trump’

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Sen. Mark Kirk

Sen. Mark Kirk (R – Illinois) “cannot and will not support” Donald Trump’s candidacy in light of the presumptive GOP nominee’s remarks on a judge of Mexican descent.

Kirk, the junior senator from Illinois, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon just minutes after tweeting his belief that Trump lacks “the temperament to command our military” as well as the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Kirk served 23 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Until recently, Kirk said he would support Trump if he were to secure the Republican nomination, referring to the business mogul as a “riverboat gamble” in an interview with CNN. Kirk did previously say he would not be attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Kirk, who won his Senate seat in 2010 following Roland Burris’ departure, faces a tough reelection campaign against Democrat Tammy Duckworth. On Monday, Duckworth accused Kirk and other Republicans of “being complicit” in Trump’s ascendance and brash rhetoric during the GOP primaries, recently culminating with Trump’s statement that Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was unfit to oversee a federal class action lawsuit because of the judge’s heritage. Curiel, 62, was born in East Chicago, Indiana.

With the Republican nomination clenched, Kirk hoped Trump would tone down his rhetoric and focus on being more “inclusive, thoughtful and principled.” However, Kirk said Trump’s recent statements about Judge Curiel, combined with past controversies over comments about Hispanics, women, and the disabled. Sen. Kirk suffered a stroke in 2012 and has spent much of his life since then confined to a wheelchair.

Kirk said he still opposes “the Democratic nominee” but will cast a write-in vote for CIA Director and retired Gen. David Petraeus.

This is the first Republican senator to withdraw their support for Trump.

The senator’s statement has been reprinted below in its entirety:

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.

“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. 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.

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”