U.S. Senate candidates Mark Kirk and Tammy Duckworth faced off in their first debate Monday in front of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board.
And one of the biggest points of contention was how many more times they would debate.
Before the meeting, which was livestreamed on the Tribune’s website, Kirk said he would participate in three debates. Duckworth has five debates or forums listed on her schedule.
The Republican incumbent said future debates are “up to Tammy and our team.”
Duckworth responded: “I will meet you anywhere. Tell you what. We don’t have the teams here. You and me. Let’s do ABC 7.”
Kirk’s campaign confirmed he will also participate in the ABC debate, but a date has not yet been determined. The next debate on both schedules is set for Oct. 24 in Springfield.
As the candidates went back-and-forth inside the Tribune Tower, outside a man in a duck costume danced on Michigan Avenue with a sign that asked “Why is Mark Kirk ducking debates?” Later, a man dressed in a prison outfit and Rod Blagojevich mask arrived to criticize Duckworth’s time as head of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
When not discussing future debates, the candidates took time to criticize their own party’s nominees for president.
Duckworth said she supported Hillary Clinton, but criticized her use of a private email server.
“She needed to turn over those emails,” Duckworth said. “We needed to make sure that things were more transparent. I do have real concerns.”
Kirk, who has frequently criticized Donald Trump, discussed Trump’s 1995 tax returns, which were recently leaked to The New York Times.
“You would obviously, if you’re running for office, want the nominee to pay federal taxes,” Kirk said. “It’s embarrassing if he didn’t pay federal taxes at all.”
Kirk also repeated plans to write-in former CIA Director David Petraeus for for president.
Tony Arnold is WBEZ's Illinois politics reporter. Follow him at @tonyjarnold.