Both Illinois Senate candidates attacked each other’s honesty and integrity in a televised debate Sunday in their high-profile race to fill the seat left open by President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBen Shapiro: No prominent GOP figure ever questioned Obama's legitimacy 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Obama's high school basketball jersey sells for 0,000 at auction MORE.
 
In a 30-minute debate on NBC’s "Meet the Press," Democrat Alexi Giannoulias defended his role in the failure of his family’s community bank and loans given out to convicted mobsters and felons, while Republican Rep. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkAdvocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio Ex-GOP Sen. Kirk registers to lobby MORE apologized for misstatements he made about his military record.
 
“I made mistakes with regards to my military misstatements,” Kirk said. “I was careless, and I learned a very painful and very humbling lesson.”
 
Kirk at one point, though, also held up a sheet of paper he said shows loans made by the Giannoulias family’s Broadway Bank that were made to convicted members of the mob and other felons, even highlighting in yellow those made when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer.
 
“The Broadway Bank provided an extraordinary amount of loan capital, millions of dollars, to mob figures and convicted felons, after they had been convicted,” Kirk said.
 
“If I knew then what I knew now, these aren’t the kind of people that we’d do business with,” Giannoulias said. “I didn’t know the extent of their activity.”

He said the bank reviews the credit worthiness of the borrower and other standard criteria before awarding loans. "Of course, there are some individuals with colorful pasts that we didn't want to do business with," he said.

Giannoulias also defended himself against accusations that he misrepresented his time of employment at the bank in order to receive a $2.7 million tax deduction.

“There have been no inconsistencies in anything I’ve said,” he told host David Gregory.
 
At one point, while defending an attack from Kirk regarding decisions made by his family at the bank, Giannoulias hit back, “We shouldn’t be surprised that the congressman is lying again.” He said the way Kirk was categorizing his family was “misleading, it’s offensive, people aren’t buying it.”

Polls show a dead heat between the two candidates, with either candidate's lead well within the margins of error. A poll released by Suffolk University on Oct. 4 had Kirk up by 1 percent. A recent Chicago Tribune poll had Giannoulias up by 2, while a CNN/Time survey had the Democrat ahead by 1 point.

Obama campaigned for Giannoulias on Thursday in Chicago, the second appearance there in less than two months. First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaJuan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts Michelle Obama to present Lin-Manuel Miranda with the Portrait of a Nation Prize Michelle Obama thanks her high school for naming new athletic complex after her MORE is scheduled to make a fundraising stop in Chicago next week.

The Illinois Senate race has become a symbolic referendum on Obama, and a Kirk win there could prove key to Republicans taking control of the Senate during Obama’s last two years of his inaugural term. 

This story was updated at 12:45 p.m.