Those shy Senate candidates

THOSE SHY SENATE CANDIDATES…. Over the weekend, we talked a bit about a) the fact that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has trouble speaking about any subject without telling demonstrable falsehoods; and b) a growing number of Republicans, especially GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate, have decided to run away from political reporters rather than answer questions about their beliefs and agenda.

Why not combine these two threads in one amusing package?

The Democratic and Republican nominees for the U.S. Senate, Alexi Giannouilas and Mark Kirk, gave their views on planning and environmental issues to a Metropolitan Planning Council lunch on Monday.

But the news was what happened afterwards: Mr. Kirk literally ran out the hotel door, rather than answer questions about a host of recent reports that he repeatedly has exaggerated his experience and credentials.

The Peter Cottontail moment happened at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel, where about 1,000 folks were on hand for MPC’s annual big do.

It was the first public appearance Kirk has made in three weeks, but he entered through a side door — again to avoid political reporters — and bolted after his speech through a back door.

Reporters followed him — journalists know that when a politician is running away, it’s best to stay in pursuit — and Kirk eventually “raced through a Hyatt kitchen and into the back seat of a black SUV … which instantly pealed out.”

I don’t imagine Kirk is interested in my advice, but this strikes me as a truly awful strategy. The more he literally flees from the press, the more Kirk looks like a candidate afraid to talk about his own record in public. It’s June, and such an approach is unsustainable. If Kirk is going to have to talk to reporters eventually — and he will — it’s better to rip off the bandage quickly now.

For the record, Giannouilas was only too pleased to chat with reporters before the event, and while he left for a fundraiser afterwards, I talked to a campaign aide today who said the Democratic candidate was available for press questions later in the day.

As for the bigger picture, Kirk joins Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin as Republicans who are simply too afraid (and/or too embarrassed) to talk to professional news outlets. It’s really not a healthy development.