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."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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.

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.


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

    Some people are just to stupid to help run our country. This guy is one of them. I have to wonder about people who would vote for a deadbeat dad and then get himself plastered on tv with ridiculous statements every other day. Do they only look for the R behind the name? Does character not matter at all? I'm sending Tammy Duckworth a donation again today. This guy so needs to be gone.

    July 5, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  2. Common sense grandma

    Once again, Mr. Walsh has showed a complete lack of class, dignity and respect for others. Most of the so-called tea party people that I read about seem to have this same streak of self-righteous attitude.

    July 5, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  3. Stephen in VA

    "veterans don't talk about their service" – YOU LIE!

    I'm a Veteran, and it brings me great joy to discuss my service, its ups and its downs, with people. Besides, just because that's all you're hearing, Walsh, doesn't mean that's all she's talking about.

    July 5, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  4. Jack V

    The quicker Joe Walsh's political career is over with, the better for the country. And one further dig at Joe Walsh, PAY YOUR CHILD SUPPORT, DEADBEAT!

    July 5, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  5. Redleg

    She is also not a deadbeat parent. Why doesn't Walsh also say that she talks too much about taking responsibility for her children?

    July 5, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  6. artraveler

    Let's see. Duckworth served her country and made a sacrifice personally in doing her duty. Walsh went to Washington with the express purpose of doing nothing. Which would make a better representative of the people? I'll take the one that put her service into action for the good and not the one who is a bombthrower with a very loud mouth.

    July 5, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  7. American

    Shameful Walsh offensively attacks military service. Does he not remember the national TV ads McCain ran repeatedly about his service, which McCain/Palin also referenced regularly on the campaign trail?

    McCain had every right to uphold his service and so does Duckworth with her honor.

    July 5, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  8. SV

    I don't like this guy, but he has a point. It is politically incorrect not to say "thanks for your service" at every possible opportunity when encountering someone who's been in the military. We have been programmed to fawn over the military. We don't just support the troops, we shower them with all kinds of benefits. Unless they're a democrat, of course. In which case you're off the hook and you spit at them if you'd like. You can always be as mean and rude as you'd like to a democrat. Oh, and remember to call them a liberal or, better yet, a libtard. Cuz, ya know, name calling always makes you come out looking superior.

    July 5, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  9. Michael

    This guy is a L-O-U-D-M-O-U-T-H and insults veterans, women and anyone else who does not see things exactly as he sees them. As a 20 year veteran and person who was born and raised in Chicago, IL I don't understand how the people could have ever elected this guy. Shouting someone down and just being out-&-out rude is NOT leadership sir. Colonel Duckworth I salute you and thank you for your service, Mr. Walsh please... Sshhhhhhhhhh.

    July 5, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  10. NameDh

    What does Joe Walsh have to show?
    Unpaid child support, and taking advantage of the affordable healthcare act??

    July 5, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  11. Abnguy

    I think more veterans should talk about their service. It alread shows she is a cut above the rest of the field. Hopefully she will be able to resist the corrupt Chicago politics the Democrats have in that state. She will need to show how her service will make her a great representative.

    July 5, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  12. SCOTO

    A brainless classless slob.

    July 5, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  13. bigtbone

    Yet the same crowd that would support whining walsh believes that allen west single handedly won the iraq war...

    We are not even on the same planet much less the same page as these frauds from the right.

    July 5, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  14. Namealphonse rounds

    You go duchworthM I can't stand mcCain

    July 5, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  15. Evangenital

    This guy should not be in congress, I hope he gets the boot.

    July 5, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Joe Walsh is a textbook example of what it means to be a 21st century Republican. He's hypocrisy down to a science. He criticizes opponents for personal financial problems, yet he owes tens of thousands in back child support. He claims to be for the middle class, yet all of his votes hurt the middle class and benefit the 1%. He claims to support kids and education, yet all of his votes cut education and school construction. He claims to be for jobs, yet all of his votes are against job bills. His idea of a jobs bill is a tax cut to corporations, and deregulation.

    He claims to support our troops, and now we have this. The sad apart is how unapologetic Walsh is.

    July 5, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  17. Governor 47th in Job Creation (excluding jobs off-shored to China)

    What should we discuss? Oh I know, how about we talk about catching up on child support only after the newspapers exposed a deadbeat...
    Walsh is just about done. One less obsttructionist in congress!

    July 5, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. pkbkr

    What a disgusting person this Walsh is......first of all, shouting and showing no respect for our President, then showing no respect for veterans/Ms Duckworth! I think his constituents should show HIM no respect and vote him out!!! What goes around comes around, Joe!

    July 5, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  19. Harry Baxter

    ...and all Joe talks about is the Tea Party "Talking Points" that he isn't even smart enough to understand. Joe has the distinction of being the first person thrown off the Chris Matthews show for being dumb. Of course, being a "deadbeat Dad" is also one of his other minimal accomplishments.

    July 5, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. mike

    this guy is out!

    July 5, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  21. Irskan

    I'd say he's a weasel.... except that would be disrespecting actual weasels..

    July 5, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. HenryMiller

    With all due respect for LTC Duckworth, she's running for Congress and her positions on the issues are far, far, more important than her having run out of luck in a helicopter. Suffering debilitating injuries is not, per se, a qualification for public office.

    July 5, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  23. TAK

    Walsh does not listen to his constituents, rather he tells them what they should be thinking. Most of his "Home Town Meetings" seem to focus on Obama bashing, not problem solving. He does not even reside in the district he wishes to represent. When called on that, one of his campaign workers said, "... he's going to move soon." Yeah, only if he wins. He has no stake or interest in the 8th District and the well-being of its voters, he only wants to use it to return to D.C. I don't care for Duckworth either, but she would be a lot more responsive to her district than Joe Walsh. Probably the only vote that I am going to cast in November is against Joe Walsh ... and I am a Republican.

    July 5, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  24. tv22

    Sounds like he's running against John Kerry! The real issue though is that this guy is claiming it's a red herring, that she has no substance to offer the district. I'd say that's fair game. These days it seems like everyone is running to become a victim and a protected class. If you run against an African American you're racist, if you run against women you are declaring war against them.

    July 5, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  25. Shipshapesheep

    This kind of reminds me of family guy where Lois runs for mayor and wins by saying 9/11 over and over. that duckworth women isn't a hero she didn't dive on a grenade or rush head first into machine gun fire and if the only plan this women has is talking about being in the military, then good luck when you elect her

    July 5, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6