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Duckworth takes national spotlight, skips Kirk bashing

Rep. Tammy Duckworth on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016. | Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA—She’s in one of the nation’s most heated Senate races, but Rep. Tammy Duckworth used her time on the stage Thursday at the Democratic National Convention to tell her own dramatic life story — and to take on Donald Trump.

The Iraq War veteran didn’t utter the name of her rival, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk — instead placing a national spotlight on her upbringing and the grenade attack that left her without legs.

Duckworth, who walked on stage with prosthetic legs and a cane, called America “the greatest nation on earth, a nation that so many are willing to die defending.”

“A nation that says if you keep working hard, we won’t abandon you,” Duckworth said.

Then she took a jab at Trump.

“In Donald Trump’s America, if you get knocked down, you stay down. By the way, Donald Trump, I didn’t put my life on the line to defend our democracy so you could invite Russia to interfere in it,” Duckworth said. “You are not fit to be commander-in-chief.”

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Duckworth was a combat pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard when her Black Hawk helicopter was hit in 2004.

Her address came a day after Kirk’s campaign sent out an email blast that two women who filed a workplace retaliation suit against Duckworth — relating to the Democrat’s tenure as the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs — had rejected a $26,000 settlement reached last month.

But the Illinois Attorney General’s office, which represented Duckworth in the case, said Thursday the settlement is final, even if the plaintiffs didn’t sign a settlement form.

“No they didn’t sign it. It’s typical practice that after finalizing a settlement the parties sign our standard form. If a plaintiff declines to sign the form, that does not change whether the agreement is final,” attorney general’s office spokeswoman Maura Possley said.

Still, Kirk’s campaign on Thursday called the settlement news a “Duckworth implosion.” Campaign manager Kevin Artl said information given by the attorney general’s office about the settlement last month was “clearly misleading.”

The plaintiffs told the Daily Herald the settlement was about $40,000, with $21,000 of that amount paying for attorney fees and another $9,000 for each plaintiff.

The attorney general’s office, however, disputes that claim, saying the $26,000 settlement covered all costs, including damages paid to each client.

On Thursday, Duckworth joked to Illinois delegates that she was surprised Kirk hadn’t made it to the Democratic convention, a jab at Kirk, whose campaign is dubbing him an “independent leader.” Kirk skipped last week’s Republican National Convention, has denounced Trump and became the first Republican senator to meet with President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court Merrick Garland.