The GOP put its foot in its mouth again this week with a tasteless tweet regarding Democratic representative Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth is an army veteran and double amputee who lost both of her legs in Iraq, during a 2004 tour, when her helicopter was hit by a grenade. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) posted the offending tweet, and took it down within ten minutes. However, screenshots were already taken:
The tweet got deleted, but here it is: pic.twitter.com/lQz2WVZK48
— Steven Rich (@dataeditor) March 8, 2016
The NRSC is fighting to maintain a Republican majority in the Senate, and is focusing their efforts on Duckworth who is challenging Republican incumbent Senator Mark Kirk in November. It is set to be a close race. The NRSC’s tweet, though tasteless and crude, is probably based on a lawsuit filed against Duckworth nearly ten years ago. While Duckworth was working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Illinois, two employees of a veterans home filed the lawsuit against her for allegedly treating them unfairly. The lawsuit has been dismissed twice but is reportedly schedule for retrial in April.
There is also a claim by two VA whistleblowers that Duckworth was unresponsive to their evidence of veteran mistreatment. Duckworth had responded to those claims with a statement saying that she had “doggedly pursued” the reports and launched a special investigation into the matter. In an email statement, spokeswoman for the NRSC Andrea Bozek alluded to this claim:
“It would be great if reporters would pay as much attention to a deleted tweet as they should to Tammy Duckworth being sued by VA whistleblowers for ignoring claims of mistreatment and corruption.”
Social media, Tammy’s supporters, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did not let the tweet go. Twitter users responded with photos of Tammy and her star-spangled prosthetic legs:
The reality is that Tammy Duckworth stands up for vets every day–on camouflaged and star-spangled prosthetic legs. pic.twitter.com/AjExkIfVbO
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) March 8, 2016
Tammy’s campaign, after releasing a statement calling the tweet “tasteless and dishonest,” began using the hashtag #TammyStands4Vets. In a series of 18 tweets, Duckworth defended her record of “standing up” for veterans.
— Tammy Duckworth (@TammyforIL) March 9, 2016
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also had something to say about the tweet, releasing a statement criticizing the NRSC and calling for a formal apology:
“The NRSC’s deeply offensive tweet about Tammy Duckworth was wrong, and their subsequent response was somehow even more appalling,” DSCC Executive Director Tom Lopach said in a statement. “Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing to Tammy, who lost both of her legs in service to this country, Republicans blamed the media. That’s unacceptable and Tammy is owed an apology.”
Unfortunately for the NRSC, their tweet seems to have backfired. Duckworth’s campaign received over 1,000 new donations after the offending tweet, saying in an email:
“In the last day, more than one thousand supporters have chipped in to send Republicans a message that their shameful attacks aren’t working. The problem isn’t just that Republicans used shameful language to attack a combat veteran who walks on prosthetic legs. It’s also that they’re continuing to disparage the commitment of someone who dedicated the past decade of her life to serving veterans in every way possible,”
Tammy Duckworth is polling at 72% for the democratic senatorial primary, her competitor Andrea Zopp is polling at only 8%, and third runner-up Napoleon Harris is coming in at 4%.
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