07/06/2012 06:49 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

Tammy Duckworth Responds To Joe Walsh: 'I've Never Claimed To Be A Hero'

Democratic House candidate Tammy Duckworth responded to attacks by opponent Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) on Friday, telling MSNBC's Michael Smerconish that she "never claimed to be a hero" and that Walsh's charges were "irresponsible."

During an appearance on "Hardball," Duckworth, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq War, said that Walsh's suggestion that she wasn't a "true hero" because she addresses her military service during campaign events is an unfair, although not unfamiliar, line of attack.

"This is not the first time he's attacked my military service," Duckworth said of the Tea Party-backed congressman. "I've never claimed to be a hero. The heroes are walking point in Afghanistan or laying in their hospital beds at Walter Reed right now. It's unfortunate he chooses to go down this route, but it's typical of his irresponsible way of conducting himself, and it's just not appropriate for a member of Congress."

Duckworth also said that she hopes veterans of recent wars don't feel "muzzled" as many Vietnam veterans did.

"I think it's important that this generation of veterans who are coming home, who have high levels of unemployment, high levels of post-traumatic stress, high levels of homelessness and suicides, they should talk about their service," she said.

One day earlier, Walsh took to CNN to defend his comments, telling host Ashleigh Banfield that his comment was not a "slip-up."

"No, Ashleigh, this wasn't a slip-up. I don't regret anything I said. Understand me. Every man and woman who's worn the uniform is a hero in my book." He added, "I've said that thousands of times. I've called Tammy Duckworth a hero hundreds of times."

But the interview quickly devolved as the congressman lost control of his message and attempted to regain it by saying Banfield's name over 90 times: