U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former Black Hawk helicopter co-pilot who lost both legs in Iraq to a rocket-propelled grenade, took on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday. But her real aim was a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Duckworth walked to the podium at the Democratic National Convention on two artificial legs to cheers from her state’s delegation. She spoke of working her way through college with odd jobs and a Pell Grant.
Then she turned to the Republican presidential candidate, who asked Wednesday that Russia hack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email.
“In Donald Trump’s America, if you get knocked down, you stay down,” Duckworth said. “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. You are not fit to be the commander in chief.”
Democrats are putting great stock in Duckworth, who has been befriended by former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia. Duckworth is challenging U.S. Mark Kirk, considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in November.
“The strength of Duckworth’s political brand is such that Kirk already is spending precious cash to run early attack ads in an attempt to redefine Duckworth’s shining image for voters,” The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday..” He’s trying to paint her as just another partisan hack by tying her to her onetime boss, imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. At the center of the ad is a long-running lawsuit filed by two state veterans affairs employees who claimed Duckworth retaliated against them for whistleblowing.
“That line of attack gained new life Wednesday, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Kirk’s campaign pointed to a published report that quoted the two women who sued as saying they’ve changed their mind about a settlement announced a month ago and now want to proceed to trial.”