Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is in hot water after disparaging his opponent’s military service during an interview with Politico on Wednesday.
Walsh, a tea party favorite, is locked in a tight re-election battle with Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and former Department of Veterans Affairs official. At one point during the interview, Walsh attempted to downplay Duckworth’s service:
“I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country,” said Walsh, simultaneously lowering his voice as he leaned forward before pausing for dramatic effect. “Ehhh. Now let’s move on.”
“What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh,” he continued. “She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat. David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel just picked her up and dropped her into this district.”
Given that Duckworth lost both of her legs and partial use of her right arm after her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2004, she probably isn’t ready to “just move on.” Although Duckworth has so far remained silent, her supporters were quick to condemn Walsh’s comments.
“Just when you think Congressman Joe Walsh couldn’t sink any lower, he insults the service and sacrifice of our Veterans,” VoteVets.org Chairman Jon Soltz said in a statement. “If you think working for America’s veterans at the VA both in Washington and Illinois is nothing, if you think working to improve the economic lives of Veterans is nothing, then Joe Walsh’s record is below nothing. He represents the do-nothing, obstructionist, extreme Tea Party wing of the GOP, not the values that Tammy stood up for.”
Walsh has attempted to walk back his comments, telling Chicagomag.com that “I often catch myself when I’m talking. I meant something other than how it came out,” and that “I have an unbelievable amount of awe and respect for everybody who wore the uniform.”