Giannoulias says he'll make own decisions if elected to Senate

State Capitol Bureau

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias says he supports President Obama's stances on Afghanistan and health care but insists he won't be a rubberstamp for his friend if Illinoisans elect him as their next U.S. senator.

Giannoulias, running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in the Feb. 2 primary, told The State Journal-Register's editorial board Monday in an endorsement meeting that he doesn't always agree with Obama's take on the issues in Washington.

Giannoulias said, for example, he's not for turning around and spending tens of billions of dollars in money being repaid by financial institutions from government bailout payments last year. Instead, he would take some of that money and put it toward small business loans while saving the rest until federal stimulus spending has a chance to work.

"It sounds good, it's good for a press release. But I just don't think it's responsible," Giannoulias said of spending the repaid bailout money.

Giannoulias also said he's the only candidate with a detailed plan for getting the economy moving again, and while his opponents tout ethical reform and ending corruption, he doesn't see that as voters' top concern.

"People want to hear about jobs," Giannoulias said.

GateHouse News Service State Capitol Bureau