BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Tammy Duckworth, the military veteran who went to work for the Obama administration as the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 until June 2011, will be in Hawaii this week.
The former Hawaii resident, who attended McKinley High School and the University of Hawaii, is running for Illinois’ Congressional District 8, a seat currently held by Tea Party backed Congressman Joe Walsh.
Hawaii’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, Congresswomen Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono as well as Gov. Neil Abercrombie, are hosting a fundraiser for her here in Honolulu.
The liberal Democrat, who received a Purple Heart after being severely injured in combat in Iraq in 2004, already received endorsements from EMILY’s List, Senator Dick Durbin and VoteVets.
Duckworth is dedicated to military service. She joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 1996 and then became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserves based at Naval Air Station Glenview in Illinois. After her UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that she was flying was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, she lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm, but continued to serve in the military as a Major in the Illinois National Guard.
She lost her race for Congress in Illinois in 2006, but then took on the challenge with the Obama administration of trying to reduce the population of homeless Veterans and improving medical care for them.
The 2012 race between Duckworth and her Republican opponent, Congressman Joe Walsh, R-District 8, the incumbent, is sure to be a fiery one with both candidates on the opposite sides of most issues.
On her web site, Duckworth calls her opponent in the 2012 election, the “controversial Tea Party Congressman.”
Walsh is a dynamic speaker. He keynoted the awards luncheon at the Second Amendment Foundation’s Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago last Saturday.
Passionate about individual rights and freedom, Walsh said that the country is “in the middle of a revolution.” The Republican said he “thanks God that President Obama was elected, because he woke up this country.”
“This is not the country my parents lived in and it is not the country that I want my kids to live in,” Walsh said, noting that traditional American freedoms are “disappearing every day.”
While Duckworth attempts a putdown on her web site of Walsh because of his affiliation with the tea party movement, he opened his speech with the fact that he is the “child of tea party movement” and said “we fight!”
He joked that most reporters don’t get his perspective and look at him as if he is an “exotic zoo animal;” and he added that the Democrats and many Republicans also don’t understand what the tea party movement is about.
The crowd cheered when he said there is a “movement of people who want their country back” and that more people from the movement will be sent to Congress as more people become frustrated and ticked off at how much debt the current administration “is placing on the backs of our kids and grand kids” and “realize our freedoms we are losing every day.”
“This tea party revolution is about freedom,” Walsh said.
Walsh, who spoke to about 800 Second Amendment supporters, said that the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, is the nation’s most important amendment because “it is the last stand protecting us from our government and it defends every single other amendment.” He said that it pains him that the liberal media and too many of our politicians “blame guns for everything.”
Walsh, who emphasized that he does not want to be in Congress for the long term, said he is making a sacrifice, sleeping in his office on an uncomfortable air mattress, in a town he doesn’t particularly like, away from his family, because “we are fighting for the soul of this country.” He believes there is a 2-to-3-year window to set America back on course, or “our kids and our grand kids will never forgive us.”
Duckworth, on the other hand, is aligned with President Obama. She has released a jobs plan in line with his, which outlines “priorities for investment in infrastructure, education, and job training” and “identifies potential tax incentives to encourage hiring and economic growth.”
While Walsh is set on helping business – especially small business – by getting government out of the way so business owners can create jobs, Duckworth said on her web site that she aims to “end subsidies for the oil and gas industry” and allow Medicare to “negotiate for cheaper drug prices.”