Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) sparred with CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield Thursday afternoon, sputtering and shouting as he tried to defend controversial comments he made earlier in the week suggesting his Democratic opponent, Iraq War veteran and former Veterans Affairs official Tammy Duckworth, wasn’t a “true” hero because she talks about her military service.
“Oh, God no, Ashleigh. Look, this is what happens when you’ve got a congressman that’s always out in front of people talking. Look, at every — you know, those comments were made a week ago at a two-hour town hall with 400 people talking about Obamacare,” Walsh said. “And like I do at the beginning of every one of my town halls, I introduce the heroes in our presence — the veterans. Look, I’m not gonna back down from anything. … 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. I’ve said that thousands of times.”
“I’ve called Tammy Duckworth a hero, hundreds of times. This is a manufactured issue, because when I’m out there — hey look, this is the lay of the land out there now. When I’m out there, I’m being taped by Tammy Duckworth’s people. They are manufacturing this crisis—”
Banfield interrupted: “It doesn’t matter who’s running the tape. It does not matter who has the tape.”
Walsh charged that Duckworth hasn’t told voters where she stands on the issues. But Banfield had come prepared: She brought out reference materials on issues that Duckworth has discussed. The interview devolved into a shouting match, as the two fought back and forth on Duckworth’s record of service, Walsh’s past campaign tactics against an 87-year-old incumbent during his first run for office in 1996, and whether veterans should discuss their service.
Walsh said at one point: “Well Ashleigh, Ashleigh, I’m not gonna sit here if you don’t let me talk, kiddo.”