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Local

Kinzinger: Trump talk continues to be problematic

Republican congressman still hasn't endorsed party's presidential nominee

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, sits down and speaks with members of the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board on Thursday afternoon at the Dixon Telegraph office. Kinzinger said he's not yet sure what Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would have to say to earn his endorsement. "I think I'll know it when I see it," he said.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, sits down and speaks with members of the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board on Thursday afternoon at the Dixon Telegraph office. Kinzinger said he's not yet sure what Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would have to say to earn his endorsement. "I think I'll know it when I see it," he said.

DIXON – Adam Kinzinger’s fourth term in Congress from the 16th District will begin next year without opposition in 2016. His Republican Party challenger was ruled ineligible before the March primary, and the Democrats have no candidate on the Nov. 8 ballot.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a political season for the Channahon Republican.

He’s still wrestling with endorsing his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump. And he’s working to help re-elect Sen. Mark Kirk, and 10th District Congressman Bob Dold. Both are facing strong Democratic Party challenges.

But one race Kinzinger doesn’t appear to be getting involved in is in the neighboring 17th District. There, Republican Patrick Harlan is challenging two-term Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline.

“I haven’t talked to him,” Kinzinger said of Harlan as he met Wednesday morning with the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board at the Telegraph office in Dixon.

If Harlan wants to reach out to him, he’d be willing to talk, Kinzinger said. That they haven’t yet might reflect the fact that most political observers consider Bustos a considerable favorite.

The presidential race has no considerable favorite, but Trump hasn’t done any favors to earn Kinzinger’s support. Trump’s call Wednesday for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails didn’t help.

“They’re completely reckless,” Kinzinger said of Trump’s comments. “I don’t know if he doesn’t understand the issues or if it doesn’t matter to him.”

Regardless of your opinions of Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, you don’t take sides with a foreign country over an American politician, Kinzinger said.

“I’m still an old-school politician, and I believe politics end at the water’s edge.”

Kinzinger would not say what specifically he needs to see and hear from Trump to get his endorsement.

“I think I’ll know it when I see it,” he said.

Trump’s tone toward international issues concerns him, Kinzinger said, because “the president almost has unchecked power of foreign policy matters.”

The Republican nominee soon will receive CIA briefings, as all nominees do after both parties’ conventions have been completed.

“Maybe we’ll see his tone change” after he’s had a few weeks of receiving those briefings, Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger is far more supportive of the state’s junior senator, Mark Kirk.

“We have to hold this seat,” Kinzinger said, noting that polling in his race against Democrat Tammy Duckworth “looks good.”

What doesn’t look good, Kinzinger said, is the political tenor in this country.

“There is a very disaffected population,” he said. “All we do in politics now is cut down our country.”

While he grew up hearing politicians talk about how great the United States is, his nieces and nephews today hear only how bad it is, Kinzinger said.

“I’ve been to an awful lot of places [around the world] and this isn’t one of them.”

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