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Illinois Senate Candidates Come Out Swinging but Neither Gets TKO

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk didn’t hold anything back in Tuesday night's Illinois Senate debate.

Giannoulias was more aggressive, but Kirk was able to counter-punch and get in a few dings of his own.  Both were also able to bob and weave their way out of answering some of the more pointed questions posed to them.  Neither, however, landed a knock-out punch.

The candidates spent the first 10 minutes of the debate defending their own personal shortcomings and the negative tone of the campaign.  Both admitted to past mistakes, but each was quick to try to turn the focus back onto his opponent’s flaws.

Giannoulias worked hard to make Kirk, a 10-year House incumbent, the establishment candidate.  “If you are thrilled with Washington, D.C.,” said the Illinois State Treasurer, then Kirk’s “your man.”

For his part, Kirk, who represents a swing suburban Chicago district, presented himself as a centrist and an independent voice.  “I am a fiscal conservative, a social moderate,” he said.  Kirk said he was against gay marriage but for civil unions.  He also said that all third-party groups, like those currently advertising in the state, should disclose their donors.

While Kirk stayed away from a full-throated embrace of the GOP agenda, Giannoulias was reading right from the Democratic playbook.  He invoked former George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove often, called Kirk “bought and paid for by Wall Street firms,” and declared that the Congressman represented “typical D.C. politics.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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