THINK PROGRESS: Though he never joined the military himself, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) disparaged his Democratic opponent’s military service at a town hall on Sunday, saying that she’s not a “true hero.” Walsh is running against Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq when insurgents hit her helicopter with an RPG in 2004. The Tea Party freshman opened the Elk Grove town hall by arguing that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was reluctant to discuss his own military service in 2008, which made him a “noble hero.” By contrast, “Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about,” Walsh said.
WALSH: Understand something about John McCain. His political advisers, day after day, had to take him and almost throw him against a wall and hit him against the head and say, “Senator, you have to let people know you served! You have to talk about what you did!” He didn’t want to do it, wouldn’t do it. Day after day they had to convince him. Finally, he talked a little bit about it, but it was very uncomfortable for him. 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. 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. MORE
SALON: That Duckworth: She’s such a showoff when she enters a room in a wheelchair. MORE
PREVIOUSLY: In March 2012, Walsh criticized his opponent Tammy Duckworth‘s military service in an interview with Politico. “What else has she done?” he asked rhetorically. “Female, wounded veteran … ehhh.” Duckworth served as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Iraq in 2004, and lost her legs and part of the use of her right arm. She was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries and is still active as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois National Guard. MORE
RELATED: After ThinkProgress published video showing Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) denigrating his opponent’s — a double amputee — military service, veterans swarmed the Illinois Republican’s Facebook page to denounce his attacks. MORE
RELATED: Vote Vets, a non-partisan PAC that supports veterans issues, condemned Walsh’s comments in an exclusive statement to ThinkProgress. Their full statement: Joe Walsh’s disgust for our veterans’ sacrifices knows no bounds. First, he falsely and maliciously claims that Tammy Duckworth, a veteran who lost her legs in Iraq didn’t have much of a record of service. Now, he denigrates that same American hero for talking about how her experience shaped her worldview and strengthened her resolve to serve even more – a conversation that isn’t just legitimate to have, but crucial as America charts its course domestically and internationally. This is a new low for this deadbeat dad. Telling a veteran to shut up on the 4th of July is beyond the pale. We are past the point of calling on Joe Walsh to apologize. He should step aside and and stop embarrassing his district and America. MORE
RELATED: After Vote Vets, a non-partisan veterans PAC, condemned Rep. Walsh’s statement and called for his resignation, the congressman doubled down with the following statement: “Of course Tammy Duckworth is a hero. I have called her a hero 100’s of times in the past four months. Just like every man and woman who has worn the uniform, her service demands — demands — our utmost respect. That’s why I recognize our veterans at the beginning of every one of my public town halls. However, unlike most veterans I have had the honor to meet since my election to Congress, who rarely if ever talk about their service or the combat they’ve seen, that is darn near all of what Tammy Duckworth talks about. MORE
PHAWKER: A LexisNexis search reveals zero instances of Walsh calling his opponent a hero.
RELATED: Following Walsh’s victory in the 2010 Republican primary, it was reported that a bank had foreclosed on his condo and he had been evicted in October 2009, but that he and his family were living in a rented house in the Chicago North Shore suburb of Winnetka at the time. A GOP spokesman said that voters would likely identify with Walsh’s financial troubles. He was also reportedly facing a lawsuit by a former campaign manager who claimed Walsh owed him $20,000 for services. and had had federal and state tax liens in the 1980s and 1990s (all paid by 2001). Walsh explained that the major portion of the past due taxes were on a college trust fund he received from his grandfather and that neither he nor his family had been aware that the funds were taxable. He also explained that his more recent financial struggles have made him more attuned to the difficulties faced by the average constituent.
On July 28, 2011, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Walsh’s ex-wife, Laura, was suing him for $117,437 for past due child support dating from 2005 for three of the children. Walsh allegedly told his ex-wife that he did not have the money because he was out of work, but he nevertheless reportedly loaned $35,000 to his 2010 campaign, and allegedly enjoyed foreign vacations in earlier years. Walsh’s attorney said that Walsh did not owe “anywhere near that amount,” and that he had had no more problems paying child support than “any other average guy”. Walsh and his ex-wife were reportedly trying to work out a settlement of the disputed past due amount as of late July 2011. On November 3, 2011, the Sun-Times further noted that “Joe Walsh was the only Illinois congressman to be named a ‘True Blue’ member of Congress for ‘unwavering support of the family’ by the Family Research Council Action committee [on November 2].” Walsh’s financial problems inspired the proposal of a bill which would forbid people owing more than $10,000 in back child support from running for office in Illinois. Privileges from mid-April to mid-July 2011 because he let his insurance lapse. In response, Walsh criticized the Tribune for “wast[ing] time and ink scrutinizing [his] driving record over the last 22 years rather than Washington’s unsustainable spending”. MORE
RELATED: Then there was the time he went off on his constituents in a coffee shop meeting that became a viral video, shouting, “Don’t blame banks and don’t blame the marketplace for the mess we are. I’m tired of hearing that crap!” In May, he got attention for claiming Democrats “want the Hispanic vote, they want Hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they got African-Americans dependent on government. That’s their game.” Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, he claimed, “would be out of work if [African-Americans] weren’t dependent on government.” MORE
RELATED: According to an analysis by The Huffington Post, dozens of Republicans who want to repeal Obamacare have adult children who are allowed to stay on their parents’ health plans thanks to the law, which extended this benefit nationwide. Many of the lawmakers’ children are employed and on their own health care plans, but others continue to take advantage of their parents’ coverage. “He [My 24-year-old son] is on his health plan right now — on his mother’s plan — but again, that wouldn’t weigh in on where I stand on the issue,” said Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) last week, before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling. “Again, I just think the whole thing needs to be scrapped. And I don’t even want to think about certain provisions yet.” But Walsh and his GOP colleagues are soon going to have to start thinking about which provisions they want to keep if they are going to try to repeal Obamacare. Republicans are almost completely unified in wanting to get rid of the health care law, but they are significantly more divided on what a plan would look like going forward — and whether they should keep some of the law’s most popular provisions. On Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Republicans would not require parents’ health insurance plans to extend eligibility to adult children if Obamacare is repealed. Walsh demurred when asked if he supported maintaining the provision. “No, I don’t know that I do. I don’t know that I do,” he said. “I don’t know where I am on that, and that’s a lousy thing to say. My oldest is 24. That doesn’t matter to me, though, irregardless of that.” MORE
WASHINGTON POST: While Walsh has shown a penchant to make national headlines — and not in a good way — there’s not much evidence he will be anything other than a one-term “wonder”in Congress. The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan handicapping service, rates the seat as “Likely Democratic”. MORE