GOP Senator Mark Kirk Apologizes After Jab at Opponent's Asian Heritage

PHOTO: Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, right, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, left, face off in their first televised debate in whats considered a crucial race that could determine which party controls the Senate, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016PlayAP
WATCH GOP Sen. Mocks Bi-Racial Opponent's US Heritage in Illinois Senate Debate

Republican Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois, running for re-election this fall, has apologized to his opponent after eyebrow-raising comments he made about her during their debate last night.

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The incumbent Senator took to Twitter acknowledging the gaf and thanking her for her military service.

Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic congresswoman who is challenging Kirk, was born in Bangkok, Thailand. An Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, she grew up in southeast Asia before her family moved to Hawaii. In 2004, she lost both her legs after a combat helicopter she was flying was hit by an RPG in Iraq.

During the debate, Duckworth was talking about her military service as well as a long history of military service in her family. She said, as she has many times on the campaign trail, that her family "has served this nation in uniform going back to the revolution."

"I am a daughter of the American Revolution," she added. "I have bled for this nation."

Kirk replied, "I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington."

Duckworth tweeted a family photo after the debate. Her father's side of the family, she says, has a long history of serving in the U.S. military.

Democrats around the country were quick to jump on Kirk's remarks following the debate, calling them racist and demanding an apology.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted to thank Duckworth and her family for their military service and added that it should not be so hard for Kirk to understand.

Kirk has long been thought of as one of the most vulnerable Republican senators seeking re-election and both presidential campaigns blasted him for his remarks. Donald Trump’s campaign manager totally dismissed the Republican.

Earlier this year, Kirk had unendorsed Trump calling him "too bigoted" and "racist" to be president.