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Kirk looking for support from the right? You betcha
Associated Press

Sarah Palin


Associated Press

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Published: 11/5/2009 12:02 AM

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GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk has sought a few kind words from Sarah Palin to help quiet the sharp criticism he faces from more conservative Republicans in Illinois.

A memo from Kirk to a Palin friend and adviser asks the former vice presidential nominee to say something "quick and decisive" about him when she's in Chicago later this month.

It even offers a suggestion: "Voters in Illinois have a key opportunity to take Barack Obama's Senate seat. Congressman Kirk is the lead candidate to do that."

Palin will be in Chicago Nov. 16 to talk about her new book on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Kirk's memo says the media will focus on whether she opposes his bid for the president's former seat.

Palin's clout within the GOP was proven when she backed a little-known conservative in a New York congressional race, helping to drive the Republican establishment's preferred candidate out of the race. The Democratic candidate wound up winning the seat.

A five-term congressman from Chicago's northern suburbs, Kirk has sometimes found himself at odds with the right. For example, Kirk angered conservatives this summer when he was one of only a handful of House Republicans to support "cap-and-trade" legislation meant to limit pollution.

He has several little-known challengers in the Republican primary.

One of them, real estate developer Patrick Hughes, said Wednesday the outreach to Palin shows Kirk "is quickly realizing that Republican Primary voters do not share his extreme views."

Democratic candidates jumped in, too, accusing Kirk of pandering to the right wing and showing that he values votes ahead of policy.

Kirk campaign spokesman Eric Elk said they gave Palin talking points about Kirk, as they do regularly for other high-profile visitors.

"The briefing provided details on the race and only requested supportive comments," Elk said.

A Palin spokeswoman did not immediately return an e-mail for comment on the memo, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

Kirk was less than effusive about Palin when she was on the national ticket last year. He said then that he didn't know if she was qualified to be president and that he would have picked someone different.