Rep. Walsh clarifies remarks about opponent

Congressman Joe Walsh under fire for saying opponent talks too much about her military service


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Laura Ingraham, in for Bill O'Reilly.

And in the "Personal Story" segment tonight, Illinois Republican Congressman Joe Walsh is in a tight race against his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth. She's an Iraq war veteran who lost both of her legs in combat.

At a recent campaign stop, Walsh took issue with the way Ms. Duckworth talks about her military service while on the campaign trail. By comparison, he noted that Senator John McCain is often uncomfortable discussing his own service.


REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Now, I'm running against a woman who, I mean, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served, that's last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we -- we are so indebted and in awe of what they have done.


INGRAHAM: Joining us now from Chicago is Congressman Walsh, who has been heavily criticized for those remarks. We also invited on his opponent, Tammy Duckworth, who declined our invitation.

OK, Congressman Walsh you've obviously gotten a lot of blowback. I'll just ask you point blank: do you think Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in a Black Hawk helicopter accident in Iraq in combat, do you think she's a hero?

WALSH: Oh, absolutely, Laura. And I've said that hundreds of times. Let me just provide a little context.

That was said at a town hall last Saturday with 400 people talking about Obama care. What I did at the beginning of that town hall is what I do at the beginning of all my town halls. I recognize the heroes in our presence.

In my book, any man or woman who wears a uniform is a hero. I've said that about Tammy countless times.

But, one final piece, I'm running against a woman who's got David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel running her campaign. They tape every word I say. I'm not going to stop talking. I have town halls every weekend. But all she does is film me talking to people, and the left-wing blogs just went crazy with it.

INGRAHAM: Well, of course, that's going to happen, and that's the world we live in today. And, look, she's obviously served her country. I interviewed her many years ago shortly after she came back, after her operation. Really difficult odyssey for her, as it is for so many of our wounded veterans.

WALSH: Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: She has -- she has also, as you pointed out, said blistering things about the Tea Party movement and you. And I guess you're in a position where, if you criticize her back or you have to watch every word you say, lest you be branded as incentive to her plight as a disabled American and as a war hero.

So I guess what do you do? You have to argue with her. You have to be sensitive. You have to be tough, but you've got to be careful. I mean, it's a -- it is a tough mix. But, you've got to watch your "P's" and "Q's," I guess.

WALSH: You know what you do? Yes, you know what you do, Laura? You give her enough respect, you treat her like any other candidate. That's the respect I want to give her.

And there is so much at stake in this election. Our country is about to fall off a cliff. You've talked about the job numbers today. We're not working. Our economy is not growing. And we're broke. We can't afford to elect anybody this year based just on their bio.

Her background deserves and demands our respect. But it doesn't demand our vote. For that, we have got to know what you think you're going to do when it comes to the issues in this country, and for some reason, she doesn't talk about those things.

INGRAHAM: Well, she is obviously a -- being supported by Emily's List, which is that virulently pro-abortion group that supports female pro- abortion candidates. They say pro-choice. And she is also...

WALSH: Laura, she called -- she called -- she called Tea Party people crackpots. She called me a Tea Party loud-mouth.

Again, I'm not -- I'm not going to name call. She's insulting everybody in this country who believes in limited government and freedom, and I just don't think that's going to play in this district or any district.

INGRAHAM: Has she -- has she said anything remotely critical about the way President Obama has handled the economy...

WALSH: Oh, no.

INGRAHAM: ... in light of the jobs report? We invited her on. I would give you both equal time if she were here. But has she been able to do that? I mean, any, even tepid criticism of President Obama?

WALSH: You know what, Laura? Again, no, she hasn't and she won't. She won't answer any direct questions.

I've tried to get her to join me to get in front of constituents throughout this district and debate with me every month. She won't.

Look, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, she's tied to. David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel run her campaign. She is the White House's candidate. And because I've been so outspoken about this president, I've become the White House's No. 1 target. So they're throwing everything at me, including this stuff.

And I've got to tell you, again, she is a hero. And I've said that hundreds of times -- but not...

INGRAHAM: She's a hero with whom you disagree. I mean, she's a war hero with whom you disagree.

I mean, a lot of people celebrated John Kerry's service. They questioned some of his service, but they celebrated his service but they said they disagree with him.

There are a lot of, you know, guys on both sides of the aisle who disagree with each other, but both served in combat. So I mean, I think...

WALSH: Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: Most disabled people that I know just want to be treated like everybody else. They don't want to be babied. They don't want to be, you know, treated...


INGRAHAM: ... as something different. And I've always saluted Tammy Duckworth.

WALSH: Especially this year. Especially this year.

INGRAHAM: Congressman, we appreciate it.

WALSH: Thanks, Laura.

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