Duckworth visits Metro East looking for votes in IL US Senate race

(KPLR) - The man who won Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat in 2010 is facing an uphill challenge in this last week of the general campaign.  Republican Senator Mark Kirk is trailing his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth by 18 points according to an Emerson College poll released Tuesday.

Duckworth campaigned in the Metro East area speaking to campaign volunteers in Collinsville and Granite City on Tuesday.  She urged them to work each day to reach out to voters.

Both nominees are military veterans.  Duckworth, charges Kirk does nothing for veterans other than to criticize.  Kirk describes Duckworth’s VA efforts as “flat and ineffective.”

“I think the key thing is to actually deliver for the people and to make sure you are an independent voice for your state,” Kirk said during an appearance this week with former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Duckworth points to her record saying she has passed bills on veterans’ jobs, mental health care, expanded services for female veterans and the expansion of hospital beds within the VA.   She also recommends the VA use outside inspectors to check health care facilities rather than the VA Inspector General.  “There’s a problem when you do your own inspections. It’s an inherent conflict,” she said.

Kirk lost several endorsements after he delivered a flippant remark to Duckworth during a political debate last Thursday.

After she had pointed out her family’s military service dated to the American Revolution, Kirk said, “I’ve forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

Duckworth’s father was an American Marine stationed in Thailand when he married her Thai-Chinese mother. Duckworth, a combat helicopter pilot, lost both legs during an attack on her helicopter in Iraq in 2004.  Kirk, a former Navy intelligence officer, used his campaign Twitter account to apologize on Friday.