U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)'s children on Tuesday echoed their father's call for Tammy Duckworth to pull an attack ad centered on $117,000 in back child support the Tea Party congressman's ex-wife previously alleged he owed her.
Joe Walsh Jr., 25, stood next to his father at a press conference in downtown Chicago and urged Duckworth, Walsh's Democratic challenger in Illinois' 8th congressional district, to "try to win this campaign by focusing on issues where you disagree with our dad. But don’t attack him as a father. He is and was a wonderful father," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
According to WLS, Walsh Sr. did not want to put his children in front of cameras over the issue, but that Joe Jr. insisted that he do so.
Joe Jr. and his sister Megan, 21, and brother Patrick, 18, also issued a joint letter addressed to Duckworth and posted to Walsh's website:
"Our parents took care of their issues months ago and now you have decided to bring this issue up again purely for political gain, despite the pain it causes us kids. The pain you cause our family by spending millions of dollars falsely accusing our dad of something that was not true and was resolved months ago, is clearly something that you could never understand. … It's just not right to be doing what you are doing."
Duckworth's newest ad -- as well as at least one of her campaign's direct mail pieces in the heated race -- calls Walsh "a deadbeat dad" over the back child support and interest his ex-wife Laura Walsh said he owed her in a complaint that was settled earlier this year.
On Monday, the Illinois congressman told the Tribune the ad is "absolutely dirty" and, in a Tuesday statement, he added that it represents "a new low" his opponent achieved. Still, he said, "it is not too late" for her to make right and pull the ad.
"While I disagree with Ms. Duckworth on nearly every policy issue, I had always believed she was a woman of honor and integrity," Walsh said in the statement. "All she has to do is pull this untrue and hurtful commercial from the air. She can say to the voters 'you know what? I am not willing to spread lies and to hurt a family just to win this election.'"
In response to Walsh's initial statement, Duckworth on Monday called the McHenry, Ill. Republican a bully, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"I think for him to now cry foul is very typical of a bully," Duckworth told the Tribune. "They bully other people and when you point out their own problems, then they cry foul."
The race between Duckworth and Walsh is one of the nation's most closely watched congressional contests. A League of Conservation Voters-commissioned Anzalone Liszt Research poll released late last week reported that Walsh is decisively trailing Duckworth 39 percent to 54 percent among likely voters in the suburban Chicago district.