Republican Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, facing a challenge to his seat from Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Tuesday said he cannot support Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for the White House.
“I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party,” Kirk said in a statement, where he added Trump did not have the temperament to command the U.S. military or take control of the nation’s 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.”
For Kirk, viewed as one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2016, this is not his first step out of line with GOP leadership this election cycle. In March, he met with President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, defying calls from fellow Republican senators.
Kirk had previously said he would support Trump should he win the nomination, telling Chicago’s NBC 5 in March, “If he is the nominee I certainly would [support him].”
Kirk dropped Trump hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said Tuesday that Trump made the “textbook definition of a racist comment” when he blasted U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. also said Tuesday that Trump should not be the next president.
“I regret those comments that he made,” Ryan said of Trump at an event outside Washington Tuesday. “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., added, “It’s time to quit attacking various people that you competed with or various minority groups in the country and get on message.”
Kirk is his statement also highlighted Trump’s attacks on other social groups.
“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls.” he said. “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.”
He continued, “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.”
Trump issued a statement Tuesday saying his continued attacks against the Indiana-native Curiel focused on his Mexican heritage had been “misconstrued.”