Durbin, Oberweis spar over guns, residency questions

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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D) and state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R) faced off in an endorsement debate in front of the Chicago Tribune editorial board Monday morning.

Durbin pushed the need to have bipartisan cooperationand took a shot at House Speaker John Boehner, saying the House sends the Senate “press releases” to vote on.

Oberweis told the editorial board that he’s worked on both sides of the aisle, saying he and Democratic state Sen. Marty Sandoval have worked together to pass significant legislation, and as a result, are known as the “odd couple” in Springfield.

On foreign policy:

When it comes to fighting Islamic State militants, Durbin reiterated that he supports President Barack Obama’s decision to not use combat troops on the ground, but Oberweis doesn’t agree with broadcasting our intent.

“We should not tell our enemies what we’re going to do,” Oberweis said.

When it comes to Iraq, Oberweis said it was a mistake to pull troops out of Iraq, saying the U.S. should have left anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 troops there.

“For how long? I don’t know how long,” Oberweis said.

On Durbin’s involvement with IRS:

Oberweis accused Durbin of purposely withholding communications between his office and the IRS. While Durbin had made public that he believed Karl Rove’s Crossroads should be investigated to determine if it really was a not-for-profit, Oberweis said he believes Durbin had additional correspondence with the agency and called for him to disclose it.

“I disclosed this letter publicly. I wasn’t hiding a thing, and I won’t hide a thing on this issue, and my position hasn’t changed,” said Durbin.

Oberweis accused Durbin of lying.

“He did not tell the truth once again. We’d like him to tell the truth and own up to the fact that he did have other correspondence,” Oberweis said. “Stop lying, tell the truth and give us the rest of the correspondence you’ve given to the IRS.”

Durbin said he had”given everything I think I have, let me double check.If there’s anything else, it’ll be disclosed.”

On guns:

“I believe we have to have good laws with universal background checks,” Durbin said. “Most responsible gun owners and sportsmen are not opposed to keeping guns out of the hands of convicted felons and mentally unstable people.”

Oberweis disputed the benefit of such a move.

“Evidence shows universal background checks make little difference,” Oberweis said.

Oberweis said his primary concern is understanding what will work and not having “another regulation that isn’t going to be effective.”

On Oberweis’ primary residence and income taxes:

This exchange was one of the most heated one of the forum.

“This may be the first time in history that you have a state senator who declared his home was Kane County to run for office, but declared his tax home to be in Florida,” Durbin said, questioning whether or not Oberweis is paying Illinois income taxes.

Oberweis, whose wife has a primary residence in Florida, said Durbin has “attempted to mislead people,” stressing he has lived at the same Illinois residence for the last 37 years.

“Will you disclose your Illinois …” Durbin said before being cut off by Oberweis.

When then asked by a member of the editorial board whether he’ll disclose his state income taxes, Oberweis said he would “if it’s an important issue.”

Oberweis said he “absolutely” pays Illinois state income taxes and has been a “great customer” of Illinois.

On corruption in Illinois:

Durbin said he urged Roland Burris to not take the appointment to Obama’s vacant Senate seat in 2008, and said he believes a special election is a better way to go, instead of an appointment.

When asked where he stands on appointments vs. special elections, Oberweis declined to comment.

On immigration:

Oberweis said if our laws are wrong, it should be debated and they should be changed.

“If kids have grown up here, they should be given a path to citizenship,” Oberweis said. “In this country, we don’t punish kids for mistakes or errors of their parents.”

Durbin quickly chimed in.

“Three cheers for my opponent,” he said. “I introduced the dream act 13 years ago and I’m glad he’s supporting it. And if more Republicans would take that position, we could pass it.”

On being career politicians:

Oberweis, who has been a critic of career politicians, took a shot at Durbin on the advantage it brings in the election.

“I think if I sold ice cream, people would recognize my name more, too,” Durbin quipped.


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