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Will Mark Kirk's Military Claim Hurt Senate Bid?

Rep. Mark Kirk said he has amended his biography after he misstated an award he received for military service. AP

It was a tough Memorial Day weekend for Illinois Republican Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk.

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the candidate seeking President Obama's former Senate seat had claimed, inaccurately, to have received the Navy's "Intelligence Officer of the Year" award.

But he did not receive that award: In reality, the unit Kirk led in in Aviano, Italy, was given an award for outstanding service by a group called the National Military Intelligence Association. Kirk, who is seen on video claiming to have won the award, was not singled out for individual recognition.

As CBS 2 in Chicago reports, Kirk told reporters that his claim wasn't "legally precise." But he cast the comments as an oversight, not an attempt to exaggerate his record.

"Let's be clear: I misstated the name of an award that I actually received for service that I actually performed in a conflict where I actually served," he said.

Kirk's Democratic opponent in the Senate race, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, brought the matter to the Washington Post's attention and has been using it to question Kirk's character.

"We need to hear exactly why, for the last 10 years, he's misstated his record," Giannoulias said Monday, as CBS 2 reports.

Kirk, who has been in Congress since 2001 and still serves as a Navy reservist, has changed his website to reflect the fact that he did not win the award. He also went on the offensive against Giannoulias, raising both the Democratic candidate's lack of military service and his connection to the family business, Broadway Bank, which was seized by federal regulators in April.

The Kirk matter brings to mind another recent military-related misstatement from a candidate - the claimby Connecticut Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is seeking his state's Senate seat, that he served in Vietnam. He actually served in the United States during the war.

Blumenthal (eventually) apologizedfor making the false claim and has maintained a strong lead over his Republican Senate opponent Linda McMahon in polling.

Watch a report on Kirk from CBS 2 in Chicago below:

Local Video from CBS 2 in Chicago

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