July 6th, 2012
05:47 PM ET
10 months ago

Duckworth defends military talk on the campaign trail

(CNN) – Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and double-amputee, fired back at opponent Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois after he criticized her for talking too much about her military service.

"It's very irresponsible for Mr. Walsh, as a sitting congressman, to try to muzzle war veterans and keep them from talking about their service," Duckworth said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

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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.

Walsh first made his comments at a town hall Sunday, when he claimed Duckworth focuses almost entirely on her military background.

"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."

He has since repeatedly stood by his remarks, insisting that Duckworth is a hero but that her service doesn't solely make her qualified for Congress.

"I have respect for her and her service. My thoughts and prayers go out to her, like they do every wounded warrior. But that doesn't demand our vote," he said to CNN's Ashleigh Banfield in a heated interview Thursday.

Hitting back, Duckworth maintained that she discusses the issues "a majority of the time" and argued instead that Walsh was trying to "distract" voters away from his record in Congress.

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. It's widely expected to vote Democratic in November.

Duckworth said she hopes more veterans will abandon any stigma that may come with talking about their service, arguing it could help make them more marketable in the workforce.

"They need to talk about the leadership skills they learned in the military that will make them better employees," she said. "They need to talk about the fact they were able to accomplish really tough missions under really extreme conditions."

This marks Duckworth's second run for Congress. She 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.

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Filed under: House • Illinois • Joe Walsh • Tammy Duckworth • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Coyn Stankop

    Itis remarkable to go to see this site and reading the views of all friends regarding this article, while I am also eager of getting know-how.

    July 6, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    GOP/Tea Party zealots who wrap themselves with the American flag should withdraw their support for Rep Joe Walsh,

    July 6, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Myviewis

    Democrats accused McCain of the same strategy. You can Google back to 2008 and find it yourselves, CNN won't let me post articles of reference. Anyways, Democrats did it first to McCain.

    July 6, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  4. Myviewis

    Reading the article again it is obvious this woman was oblivous to the practices of the Democrat party to attack McCain to not allow him to win sympathy from the voters. Seriously, this is so hypocritical. I remember the attack on the military from rudeness towards them to removing the american flag from the cemeteries, from schools and some groups went as far as calling the military men and women traitors, killers, they even picked on the military men and women that wanted to hold on to their Bibles. Democrat groups were out of control and scary. Democrats showed no respect to McCain. It is true, Democrats don't go in the past they just look to the future ( how convenient).

    July 6, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  5. marty

    How in the world did this man with his vapid renderings ever get elected to an important office?

    July 6, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    Walsh has some problem, candidates always talk about their records, experience to the voters. Nothing wrong
    Walsh must find different attacking point

    July 6, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. GeneK

    When I was a kid my dad and his friends used to talk about their WWII service all the time. Sometimes they'd laugh and talk about the good times, sometimes they'd get somber and talk about the bad, but they talked about it a lot because it was a defining moment in their lives that tended to color the way they saw everything in life after; none of them came back the same person as when they left. A lot of today's vets feel as if they're supposed to come back home and just pick up their old lives as if nothing has changed, and if they talk about what they went through with anyone but another vet they get these looks from people, as if they're going to go into a PTSD episode and start mistaking waitresses for VC or Taliban insurgents. So they just keep their mouths shut and everything bottled up because nobody wants to hear about what they've been through and how it's changed them and will start crossing over to the other side of the street when they see them coming. Apparently, Walsh thinks that's the way things ought to be.

    July 6, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. hawkhd

    Running as a Democrat, she obviously does not care about her fellow vets.

    July 6, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. T'sah From Virginia

    ►He has since repeatedly stood by his remarks, insisting that Duckworth is a hero but that her service doesn't solely make her qualified for Congress.◄

    Okay, and what qualified Walsh's "tea-tard butt" to become a congressman – Palin's endorsement??? He's done NOTHING since he's been there – the ONLY positive result that came out of Walsh winning was his "child-support" back-pay being resolved. He's a loudmouth bully and he will be voted out!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    July 6, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. Larry L

    Walsh certainly wants to avoid talking about his opponent's Service to our country. It's like all Republicans have forgotten a man named George W. Bush ever existed. They expect the lies and spin of Fox News to do the talking and reality to take a back seat. This lady knows what sacrifice is all about and cares about something other than corporate sugar daddies.

    July 6, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. Ben

    Thank you, Tammy Duckworth, for serving our country.

    July 6, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. Liz the First

    So much for 'supporting the troops.' what a hypocrite! repugs talk big about patriotism but real patriots don't send troops into an unnecessary war and then deny them proper care when they come home with PTSD and TBIs. any vet or active service person who votes repug should have his or her head examined.

    July 6, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  13. pbk

    This is where the Democrats need to stand tall and tough. No more of that trashing our veterans like they were allowed to get away with when they trashed John Kerry and others who were war heroes in the name of Republicanism and George Bush.

    July 6, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. Dwayne

    There is no lower limit for the republicans. If it is not attacking women's rights, they will attack the war vets. I agree, be proud of your service, and do not let them silence you!

    July 6, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. TAK

    It is a sad day indeed when an American must DEFEND his or her military service from the likes of Representative Joe Walsh. But people like Walsh have no dignity and know no shame.

    July 6, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  16. Sue

    Joe Walsh has once again proven to be simply a classless jerk with a big mouth! I can't help but wonder how anybody with half a brain in their head could vote for someone like Walsh who showed such total disrespect for Tammy Duckworth, a woman that both served her country with distinction and sacrificed so much.

    July 7, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. HenryMiller

    Calm down, Colonel! You're not being "muzzled," you're being told that being shot out of the sky isn't a really great qualification for public office. If there's no more to you than that, there's no more reason to vote for you than there is to vote for anyone else.

    "Duckworth said she hopes more veterans will abandon any stigma that may come with talking about their service..."

    Stigma? Now, in 2012, there's no "stigma" attached to being a veteran. It's not the 1970s any more. I spent the last half of the 70s and a lot of the 80s telling people my stainless steel left hand was the result of a motorcycle accident and had nothing to do with all that unpleasantness half a world away. That was "stigma."

    July 7, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |