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Kirk chirps apologetic tune over Twitter tweets
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Staff

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk


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Published: 8/3/2009 4:41 PM

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U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk on Monday downplayed criticism that resulted from his sending tweets via Twitter while on active duty with the Naval Reserve.

The tweets - messages of no more than 140 characters sent to "followers" via the Twitter online message service - seemed innocuous when sent late last month.

"On duty @ the Pentagon's National Military Command Center," Kirk wrote. "All is currently (relatively) quiet. Honor 2 be back w/ my fellow Navy colleagues." He added a similar message the next day, concluding with the hope "for a calm day" for the troops.

Yet critics on the blogosphere pointed to how the messages violated military protocol for revealing one's duties and station - loose lips sink ships and all that - in addition to violating strict rules against political campaigning while on active military duty.

The Republican congressman's Twitter feeds are seen as an attempt to appeal to younger voters in his pursuit of the U.S. Senate seat held by Roland Burris in next year's primaries and general election.

"It's something that I will not do again," Kirk said while pooh-poohing the severity of the offenses at the end of a downtown Chicago news conference on his proposal for health-care reform on Monday. "I understand the sensitivities. So my days on that, when I'm on active duty, are over."

Kirk seemed sensitive most of all to offending voters. "When you are a Senate candidate," he said, "it's time to refrain."