Kirk: GOP colleagues 'close-minded' on Supreme Court
© Greg Nash/The Hill
Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' MORE (R-Ill.) on Tuesday slammed his own party's leadership, saying his colleagues who won't meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland are "close-minded." 
 
"We need open-minded, rational, responsible people to keep an open mind to make sure the process works," he told reporters before meeting with Garland. "I think when you just say 'I'm not going to meet with him' and all that — too close-minded."
 
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Kirk is the first Republican to meet with Garland. 
 
The Illinois Republican is considered the most vulnerable GOP incumbent running for reelection in November. He's sought to publicly and repeatedly break from his party's decision to deny Garland a hearing, a vote and, in many cases, a meeting. 
 
He said Tuesday he was "leading by example" by meeting with Garland, adding that he hoped his decision would influence some of his Republican colleagues.
 
"I'm showing what a rational, responsible guy would do," he said. 
 
Democrats quickly pounced on Kirk's meeting. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee national press secretary Lauren Passalacqua said Kirk is "doing the bare minimum" on Garland's nomination. 

“If Mark Kirk were serious about moving forward on the constitutional process, he’d be pressuring his Republican colleagues and Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE to hold a hearing and vote on Judge Garland,” she added. "This is just political posturing from a very endangered incumbent.” 

More than a dozen senators have said they are open to meeting with Garland, though most would use the meetings to reiterate their opposition to taking up his nomination. 
 
Kirk is one of four Republican senators who have publicly backed Garland getting a hearing.