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Duckworth and Walsh trade verbal spars as race comes to a close

Eight Congressional District candidate Joe Walsh address volunteers before joining them walk district spread his word lower taxes smaller government

Eight Congressional District candidate Joe Walsh address volunteers before joining them to walk the district to spread his word of lower taxes and smaller government on Saturday, November 3, 2012 in Schaumburg. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 5, 2012 6:51AM

GOP U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh ridiculed Democrat Tammy Duckworth Saturday as a vessel of “mean people named Axelrod, Emanuel and Durbin,” while she hit back at him for telling voters nothing but “lies” in the suburbs’ hottest congressional fight.

Both candidates in the 8th Congressional District entered the final weekend before Tuesday’s election, continuing to hurl verbal spitballs at one another and bearing down on their all-important, get-out-the-vote ground games.

Walsh began the day at his Schaumburg headquarters revving up 120 or so supporters, some of whom signed their names with felt-tip pens on his campaign’s 1984 Winnebago before spending Saturday going door to door on his behalf.

“You are walking for a candidate today who’s running against a candidate who had a district drawn for her, a district drawn for her by powerful mean people named Axelrod, and Emanuel and Durbin,” Walsh shouted, eliciting a chorus of boos at his reference to presidential advisor David Axelrod, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Walsh described himself as the “Democratic Party’s public enemy No. 1,” acknowledged he was someone even his own party’s establishment “still doesn’t quite get” and said his flame-throwing ascension to Congress defied all political odds.

“Nobody on the planet, Republican or Democrat, thought we could do this. That guy Walsh, oh my God, he’s too outspoken. He says things he shouldn’t say. He’s always stepping in it,” he said.

But despite all that, Walsh said, the campaign against Duckworth is tight.

“This race is a dead heat because I’ve been out everyday. You’ve been out everyday. And my friends in the media, they don’t get that. Oh, they poo poo stuff like that. They poo poo you. They poo poo me. Oh my God, there’s no way you can beat Duckworth, Axelrod and Emanuel. Well, you know what? Duckworth, Axelrod and Emanuel are scared to death,” he shouted to the crowd, drawing cheers. “They know they’re in the fight of their lives.”

In another part of the district, Duckworth was decidedly more low-key with her campaigning but expressed confidence with the race during a break from mingling with voters at a craft fair at Palatine High School.

“You know, we feel pretty good,” she said.

The disabled Iraqi War veteran went on to belittle Walsh and his contentions that the state’s Democratic elite drew her a favorable congressional district and that she isn’t working as hard as him to win over voters.

“Mr. Walsh lies a lot and says a lot of things that are simply not true. He thinks if he says them over and over again, that’ll make them true. That’s simply not true,” Duckworth said.

“Mr. Walsh can say whatever he wants. He’s insulted everyone in the district, and he continues to lie about what the actual record out there is,” she said. “I’m just not focused on him right now.”

Despite a last-minute $1 million influx of pro-Walsh money into the campaign from conservative SuperPAC Now or Never, a We Ask America poll last week showed Duckworth with a 9-point lead — though she said she takes no comfort in that kind of pre-election lead.

“I remind them [former Democratic U.S. Rep.] Melissa Bean lost [to Walsh in 2010] by 300 votes, and lots of people thought she had it won and didn’t bother to turn out to vote,” Duckworth said, referring to her supporters. “For us, it’s all about getting people out to vote.”

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