Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) faced off against Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth in their third congressional debate on Tuesday, in an event notably peppered with sharp personal attacks.
In one of the most memorable verbal scuffles, Walsh attempted to accuse Duckworth of being carefully groomed and programmed by national Democrats. After characterizing her as a puppet of David Axelrod, however, Walsh decided to criticize Duckworth for being worried about "picking out a dress" ahead of her address at the Democratic National Convention.
“I was marching in a parade in Schaumburg, Sunday, two days before the Democratic convention, when Tammy Duckworth was on a stage down in Charlotte -- if you can look at the picture -- picking out a dress for her speech Tuesday night,” Walsh said, holding up a photo.
The crowd noise surged with boos and cheers, as it reportedly did throughout the night, while Duckworth prepared her rejoinder.
“He's trying to distract the discussion from the real issues that are at hand. And yes, I do sometimes look at the clothes that I wear,” she said. “But for most of my adult life, I’ve worn one color -- it’s called camouflage.”
(Exchange begins before 1:50 mark in video above, via the Chicago Daily Herald)
Walsh has taken heat for his angles of attack on Duckworth before. On the heels of the DNC, Walsh launched a similar strike, writing on his website that it had "become abundantly clear that at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech." Duckworth responded by downplaying the significance of the barb, which she characterized as "sexist."
The Tea Party-backed Republican brewed a greater controversy earlier this year, however, when he claimed that Duckworth, a double amputee who lost both legs while serving as a U.S. Army Blackhawk pilot in Iraq, was not a "true hero." Walsh, who has not served in the armed forces, later attempted to walk those comments back but maintained that Duckworth was too eager to discuss her military service during her campaign.
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