An ill-worded tweet — accusing U.S. Army veteran and double amputee U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of “not standing up” for veterans — has added more fuel to a contentious U.S. Senate campaign.
“Tammy Duckworth has a sad record of not standing up for veterans,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee posted Tuesday before quickly deleting the tweet.
Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran, lost both legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting in Iraq was hit by a grenade in Iraq in 2004.
Duckworth’s campaign quickly used that tweet in an email to supporters, saying they couldn’t believe the Republicans would tweet it.
“Since losing both legs in service to our country, Tammy has dedicated her life’s work to standing up — on her camouflage and star-spangled prosthetic legs — for our nation’s Veterans,” the email read before calling the tweet “tasteless” and urging supporters to contribute more money to her campaign.
Duckworth’s deputy campaign manager called the tweet “vile” and sought to link it to Republican Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign.
“Tasteless and dishonest, just like everything else to do with Mark Kirk’s flailing campaign. Tammy has made fighting for Veterans her life’s work, and will continue to do so in the Senate,” McGrath said in a statement.
An aide for the NRSC has acknowledged the tweet was a mistake and said it was quickly deleted.
And the Republican committee sought to instead place focus on two whistleblowers’ accusations that Duckworth “did little to respond to their claims of mistreatment of veterans and corruption within the Hines VA.” They claimed Duckworth was “largely unresponsive to evidence related to veteran mistreatment and inadequate investigations conducted by the VA’s inspector general,” the NRSC said.
“It would be great if reporters would pay as much attention to a deleted tweet as they should to Tammy Duckworth being sued by VA whistleblowers for ignoring claims of mistreatment and corruption,” NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement.
Kirk’s campaign also declined to comment on the tweet, and also deflected to the whistleblowers.
“The simple truth is that her record on veterans’ affairs is marked by failure and poor judgement that has put veterans at risk,” Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl said in a statement.
Duckworth’s campaign said the GOP response shows they “truly know no shame.”
“Mark Kirk’s NRSC allies were incredibly offensive and tone-deaf in attacking Tammy for her service on behalf of Veterans, and instead of apologizing, they’re doubling down with more bogus information,” McGrath said.
“Considering Kirk lied about his military record at least a dozen times, including falsely claiming to have been shot at over Iraq — an experience Tammy Duckworth knows all too well — he and the NRSC truly know no shame.”
Kirk and Duckworth are involved in a heated race for U.S. Senate, despite them not even being official challengers. Duckworth is facing former Urban League Prep CEO Andrea Zopp and State Sen. Napoleon Harris in the March 15 Democratic primary. Kirk faces one Republican challenger, James Marter, an Oswego software consultant. But both Duckworth and Kirk campaigns have focused their primary campaigns on defeating each other.