GOP senator touts break from Trump

"My independence is pretty clearly demonstrated when I de-endorsed Donald Trump," the Illinois Republican told a local radio station. "I felt Donald Trump was too bigoted and racist for the land of Lincoln."   

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Kirk's comments come as Senate Republicans meet with Trump at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The Illinois Republican is one of a handful of vulnerable GOP senators who aren't attending the closed-door sit-down. 
 
Kirk — widely considered one of this year's most endangered GOP incumbents — was the first, and only, Republican senator to take back his endorsement of Trump from earlier this year. 
 
"I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world," Kirk said in a statement in June. 
 
The Illinois Republican has repeatedly broken from his party as he runs for reelection on issues including Planned Parenthood and gun control. He also played up his decision to buck Trump in an ad last month. 
 
Kirk faces an uphill battle for reelection against Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) in a state widely expected to be carried by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Gabbard considering 2020 run: report Claiming 'spousal privilege' to stonewall Congress MORE, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in November.
 
Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats. Democrat need to net five — or flip four and retain the White House — to win back the majority.
 
While Kirk isn't eager to tie himself to Trump, he also took a swing at Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of State. He added in the radio interview: "Democrats should really rebuke her, to leave their whole party to that level of risk."