Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham lent Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) a helping hand as the congressman sought to do damage control on his recent attack on wounded veteran Tammy Duckworth.
During a July 1 campaign speech, Walsh claimed that Duckworth, his opponent, was unlike “our true heroes” because her military service is “all she talks about” :
WALSH: Understand something about John McCain. His political advisers, day after day, had to take him and almost throw him against a wall and hit him against the head and say, “Senator, you have to let people know you served! You have to talk about what you did!” He didn't want to do it, wouldn't do it. Day after day they had to convince him. Finally, he talked a little bit about it, but it was very uncomfortable for him. That's what's so noble about our heroes. Now I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, it's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we're so indebted and in awe of what they've done. [emphasis added]
Following widespread criticism of Walsh's comments, Ingraham, while filling in for Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor tonight, hosted the congressman and helped clean up after him.
Ingraham began the interview with a softball question: “Do you think Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in a Blackhawk helicopter accident in Iraq in combat -- do you think she's a hero?” Walsh replied, “Oh absolutely, Laura, and I've said that hundreds of times,” but then added that “all [Duckworth] does is film me talking to people, and the left-wing blogs just went crazy with it.”
Ingraham went on to remark that Duckworth has said “blistering things about the tea party movement” and Walsh, and that it seems as if Walsh is in a position where he has to “watch every word” he says to avoid being “branded as insensitive to her plight as a disabled American and as a war hero.” She continued:
INGRAHAM: 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 gotta be careful. I mean it's a tough mix, but you gotta watch your Ps and Qs, I guess.
Ingraham concluded the interview by saying that Duckworth is a “war hero with whom” Walsh disagrees on the issues, and adding: “Most disabled people that I know just want to be treated like everybody else and they don't want to be babied.”
In her interview with Walsh, Ingraham downplayed that Walsh's initial remarks created a distinction between Duckworth and “our true heroes” in the military. In fact, after being given the chance to walk back his statement earlier today, Walsh called Duckworth a hero but qualified it by stating that “unlike most veterans I have had the honor to meet since my election to Congress, who rarely if ever talk about their service or the combat they've seen, that is darn near all of what Tammy Duckworth talks about.”
Ingraham's effort to help Walsh with damage control comes the same day that CNN contributor Erick Erickson defended the congressman.