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Joe Walsh, Tammy Duckworth Exchange Blows In First Debate

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Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh and Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat challenging his 8th District seat, faced off in their first debate Friday, and things got heated.

The two sparred about gay marriage, contraception, jobs, and Medicare funding. Duckworth challenged Walsh's support of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, which Walsh says would save Medicare.

“If you pass the Ryan budget, it would end Medicare as we know it tomorrow, not in 10 years," Duckworth said. "It would gut it as we know it tomorrow.”

Duckworth proposed funding the health care program by "end[ing] the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to pay for it."

The two disagreed about the nation's best course to boost revenue, with Walsh advocating for tax cuts and Duckworth arguing for cuts to defense spending and corporate tax breaks.

Walsh told Duckworth that the 8th District is eager for health care reform, arguing that "if you and I held hands and we walked around this district for an afternoon and talked to 30 small businessmen, Obamacare will come up.”

(See the full debate, posted in segments, at CLTV.)

Walsh and Duckworth have been campaigning against one another since Duckworth edged out Raja Krishnamoorthi for the Democratic ticket in March. But Friday's debate was the first time the two met, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Walsh faced some pushback after trivializing Duckworth's military service when it became clear she would be his Democratic challenger.

“What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh,” he said in an interview with Politico. Duckworth lost both legs and one of her arms while serving in Iraq in 2004 and was previously the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walsh is a star within the Tea Party movement and has earned attention on a national scale for frequently challenging President Barack Obama, most notably by refusing to attend the president's jobs speech in September.

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