— -- Mark Kirk, one of the most electorally at-risk senators this election cycle, became the first senate Republican to retract his initial support of Donald Trump, saying the presumptive nominee’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel were the last straw.
“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,” Kirk, of Illinois, said in a statement released by his campaign.
Kirk, a moderate Republican running in a state that skews heavily Democratic in presidential years, said last month that he would “certainly” support Trump if he were the nominee.
"Donald Trump is kind of a riverboat gamble," Kirk said at the time during a CNN interview. "He won the Illinois primary, in this case we have seen the Republican vote up and the Democratic vote down, so it looks like it's a net benefit.”
Several other Senate Republicans on Tuesday said they could not vote for Trump, but Kirk was the first one so far who previously said he would support the real estate mogul.
Kirk’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, quickly pounced on the about-face, saying his condemnation of Trump should have come earlier.
“What took so long? Apparently for Mark Kirk, it’s acceptable to refer to Mexicans as rapists; to propose banning Muslims from entering the country; to call women fat pigs and dogs; to mock a reporter’s disability; and to insult just about everyone who doesn’t look like Donald Trump. Until today, and for nearly a year, Kirk was fine with all of that,” her deputy campaign manager said in a statement.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also weighed in.
“It was not until the political fallout of Trump’s divisive politics began to hurt Kirk’s own reelection that he second-guessed his support,” DSCC communications director Sadie Weiner said in a statement.
Trump said Tuesday that his statements about Curiel were "misconstrued." He drew fire for suggesting that Curiel might be biased in presiding over two lawsuits against Trump's former school, Trump University because he had Mexican heritage.