Walsh says opponent talks too much about military service
July 4th, 2012
08:29 PM ET
2 years ago

Walsh says opponent talks too much about military service

(CNN) - Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois on Wednesday stood by earlier comments questioning his congressional opponent, an Iraq war veteran and double-amputee, for speaking too much about her military service.

"She is a hero, and that demands our respect, but it doesn't demand our vote. All she does, guys, is talk about her service," Walsh said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

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He contended that his rival, Democrat Tammy Duckworth, rarely makes campaign appearances, but when she does hit the trail, she primarily focuses on her background fighting overseas.

A Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Iraq, Duckworth lost both legs and the use of one arm when her crew was shot down in 2004. She was later awarded the Purple Heart and continues to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

In his original remarks on Sunday, Walsh lauded Sen. John McCain's modesty in talking about his well-known background as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Walsh said McCain's 2008 Republican presidential advisers repeatedly pushed the senator to talk more about his story, but he was strongly reluctant to make that a focus of his campaign.

"That's what's so noble about our heroes. Now I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about," Walsh said. "Our true heroes, it's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we're so indebted and in awe of what they've done."

His comments soon generated buzz online, prompting several groups, including VoteVets.org and Emily's List, an organization dedicated to helping Democratic women get elected to office, to condemn the congressman's remarks.

Walsh, elected in 2010 with wide support from the tea party, reiterated Wednesday that he believes Duckworth is a hero but she gives voters a narrow window into her positions on the issues.

"I continue to salute her service, but if that's all she runs on, voters are going to find that offensive," he said.

He called into question the very notion that she would discuss her military background, saying "veterans don't talk about their service" and choose to be "private about it."

When pressed by Blitzer, who said a lot of veterans are proud to discuss their background, Walsh brought up McCain again as an example of one who tends to be more reserved.

"They don't throw it in your face," he said. "They at least can move beyond that and tell you why they want to be a congressman or woman."

Duckworth's campaign responded to his original comments on Tuesday, calling the comments an "insult."

"This week we celebrate our country's founding and we are grateful for the courage and service of all of our military men and women throughout our nation's history. Congressman Walsh's comments insult those who sacrificed to make this country free. Tammy is proud of her over twenty years of service with the Army and her family's legacy of fighting for this country. We can't recognize our servicemen and women enough and ask that we keep them in our thoughts during this holiday week," campaign manager Kaitlin Fahey said Tuesday in a statement.

Duckworth, herself, said during a Tuesday interview with MSNBC that Walsh was using the attack for his own political gain and called him an "extremist loudmouth for the tea party."

This election year marks her second run for Congress. The Iraq war veteran made an unsuccessful House bid in 2006, prior to being tapped by President Barack Obama in 2009 to become the assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The two candidates are fighting for a seat representing the new 8th Congressional District located outside of Chicago and created by the state's recent redistricting process.

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Filed under: 2012 • Illinois • Joe Walsh • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. frida

    Walsh needs to be voted out of office since walsh had the guilt to insult people that defended this great nation. I really don't understand what he is being doing in office?

    July 5, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  2. Elizabeth's Mom

    You obviously dont know anything about veterans...THAT'S ALL THEY DO IS TALK ABOUT THEIR WAR WOUNDS...your either blind to the fact, or just plain stupid!!!

    July 5, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  3. Logic N LA

    Whaaaaaaaaaaa!
    If there are issues to run against her or to run on- then just do it.

    July 5, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  4. chuck weidemann

    Don't think Joe Walsh is to bright!!! He is talking out of both sides of his mouth and he should just shut it at this point......

    July 5, 2012 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  5. B

    How on earth did this man get elected?

    July 5, 2012 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  6. Brian

    The way Walsh twists things he reminds me of old Tricky Dick Nixon.

    July 5, 2012 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  7. Alex Bowen

    Im a 12 year military veteran myself, and I am going to have to side with Rep. Walsh on this one. Honestly, I dont give a crap about what this lady did in the military as she is running for a political office, not a military command. I understand she has alot of pride for what she has sacrificed in war, and in the months following my exit from the Army I was alot like her; very proud. I soon came to find out that in the civilian world people really dont give a crap what you did in the military, only what you can do for them now. Politicians need to stick to political issues, and military people run the military.

    July 5, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  8. Paul Thomas

    Every one knows John Mccains story and that guy hasn't found a camera or news crew he does not like. A lot of people don't know Mrs Duckworths story, this lady has the right to talk about her service and the more airtime spark plug Walsh gets her the more likely she is to beat him. What do we really know about Walsh other than the fact he embarrassed his office when the president was speaking. I will enjoy watching him lose come November along with the rest of these fringe clowns

    July 5, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  9. Marla

    This guy is certainly no hero to his own children and does not have the sense of duty and responsibility that Ms. Duckworth has.

    July 5, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  10. James

    I have never understood how joining the army and being sent to foreign lands to fight unpopular wars make you a hero.

    July 5, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  11. Doug from Seattle

    Typical republican! Never wore the uniform, but so quick to send our military into harms way and then minimize the extreme sacrifices they make for our country. Republicans have no sense of honor. None whatsoever!

    July 5, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  12. Tommy

    He is right I an a Nam Vet but I can't eat on that.she's running for public office. the sympathy vote only goes so far. She needs to address the issues and quit hiding behind her military service. I acknowlege her sacrafice and applaude her service. but we are in trouble right now and what are her plans to get us out of it..

    July 5, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  13. Ed

    What is Walsh's claim to fame?

    July 5, 2012 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  14. Kajal

    A woman who served flying black hawk helicopters in war has proved her patriotism and commitment beyond doubt. What has Walsh done?
    He is annoyed that she talks about her military background? How is that patriotic? If he had been in the wars and lost his limbs, wouldn't that define him so deeply that he would talk about it too – but, no, her service in war defending America is cheap and disposable if it could get in the way of his getting elected. Shameful!

    July 5, 2012 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  15. ThinkAgain

    Walsh is just jealous because what he's most known for is the FACT that he's a deadbeat dad who owes his ex-wife over $100,000 in back child support.

    July 5, 2012 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  16. ThinkAgain

    Regarding Walsh's statement that, "veterans don't talk about their service" and choose to be "private about it." REALLY? John McCain would NEVER have been elected to the Senate if he hadn't traded on his POW experience.

    Walsh needs to take a flying leap!

    July 5, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  17. ThinkAgain

    In the article photo, Joe Walsh is indicating:

    1. The amount of integrity he has.
    2. The amount of intellect he has.
    3. The size of his House "member."
    4. All of the above.

    July 5, 2012 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  18. nevada39

    Hard to attack somebody for being a true American and not just talking about it..She stood up for us and you just talk about it, we need action not more finger pointing, go home and let a real patriot give it her best.

    July 5, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Walsh is just another GOP foot soldier doing his job of saying outrageous, vile things about his opponent, all the while claiming to be the "values" candidate.

    This is all part of the GOP plan to further divide our country and then try to subtly steal the election, after which they will proclaim that the "will of the people" is to continue to divide our country and continue a political climate where anybody who doesn't agree with them is the enemy.

    Wake up, folks. If you think that the GOP being back in charge will bring about anything good for our country, you're looney. Mittens is proposing all the tried-and-failed GOP policies that got our country into this mess, and their idea of what our nation should be like is just another third-world country, where the top 1% own and control everything, the rest live in poverty, and the people are pitted against themselves as a distraction from the immoral exploitation the powers that be are perpetuating.

    All Democrats, Independents and thinking Republicans: Get out and VOTE in November for Obama/Biden and a full Democratic slate! It's the only way to ensure our country will continue moving forward and not slide back into the abyss of the failed GOP past.

    July 5, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Tammy Duckworth should be proud of her service to this country...She sacrificed the use of her legs and an arm for this country and she should be recognized for her heroism...Conservatives do not own the concept of patriotism and sacrifice, and shame on Congressman Walsh for even making this an issue...He ought to be thankful that men and women like Tammy Duckworth have served and continue to serve in protecting this country so that he has the freedoms he enjoys so dearly...Thank you, Tammy Duckworth

    July 5, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  21. SwingState

    This guy reminds me of that bully in grade school who liked to talk loud with no substance.

    July 5, 2012 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  22. geggyg

    Mc Cain may not have talked about his military experence all time (he crashed 2 planes before crashing a 3rd r that led to his capture) but his campaign did, his surrogates did, Fox news network did and so did many repubs commenters on here .
    As for Duckforth she has a visible disabitities which many would asj her about , plus having 2 amputated legs, loss of use of 1 arm and being in a wheelchair she needs to convince a lot of people that she can do her job a representative of the people.

    July 5, 2012 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  23. A Soldier

    Career politicians in both the Democrat and Republican parties should fear a likely future in which people with true stake in this country fight for office. We have sacrificed while they have gone shopping, and we have suffered from their misguided policies while choking on sand and dodging bullets in foreign lands. It is time to replace these war mongering lawyers with people who can fight, but know the cost.

    July 5, 2012 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  24. stevetall

    This guy is certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He should be talikng about whatever it is that he does well, but we're all a little unsure if there is anything that he does well. Now he's picking on a wounded veteran who has no legs and only one arm. Talk about being a sissy and a bully at the same time!

    July 5, 2012 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  25. Iamnotfooled

    It makes me sick to think we pay this obnoxious, arrogant,rude, tea party tool , dead beat dad, a 176,000 salary with benefits. Vote this bum out ! He has never served a day of military service in his life! Now she has a record and a brain. Go get him Tammy!

    July 5, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
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