Weather Updates

Walsh, Duckworth square off in raucous Super Bowl of debates

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh looks offstage an Eighth Congressional District debate with Tammy Duckworth Democratic challenger as they take part

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, looks offstage at an Eighth Congressional District debate with Tammy Duckworth, Democratic challenger as they take part in their third of five debates at the Meadows Club, Rolling Meadows, Illinois, October 9, 2012. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

storyidforme: 38271781
tmspicid: 14050714
fileheaderid: 6452671
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: October 11, 2012 6:06PM

If politics is sport, then Illinois’ Super Bowl of political debates went down in Rolling Meadows Tuesday night, complete with two highly-charged candidates and hundreds of whistling, booing and screaming fans.

Democratic war veteran Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, a Tea Party Republican, alternately talked over one another in a spirited verbal sparring match. Walsh even offered to donate $2,500 to his opponent’s campaign in a bet during the verbal battle over the 8th Congressional District seat that Walsh now holds.

At another point, Walsh hoisted a photo taken of Duckworth shopping for a dress. He was explaining a comment he made about Duckworth spending her time at the Democratic National Convention trying to pick out what to wear.

Both Walsh and Duckworth wasted no time launching salvos at one another, each attempting to put the other on the defensive before an estimated 1,000 people, who packed the Meadows Club ball room.

“I never said she wasn’t a hero,” Walsh said of Duckworth, who lost both her legs while piloting a helicopter in Iraq. That caused a major groan to wash over the auditorium.

“Yes you did!” someone shouted.

Walsh was asked whether he was too “extreme” for the north and northwest suburban congressional district. He was also asked about his comment that Duckworth was busy picking out an outfit to wear at the political convention when she should have been back in the district talking to people.

Walsh then held up a photo, saying it was Duckworth shopping for a dress.

He couldn’t even finish his remark because the crowd drowned him out in disapproval.

“What a dork!” said one man, who was wearing an anti-Walsh sticker.

Duckworth was quick with a retort: “I wear one color, it’s called camouflage,” she said to cheers.

The crowded room became increasingly raucous as the candidates traded barbs.

At one point, moderator Paul Green told the audience to calm down or else he’d have to “pass out the togas.”

In one exchange, Duckworth and Walsh each said they had talked with the owners of a local steak house about health care. Walsh used it as an example of people who needed “Obamacare” repealed. Duckworth said she heard a very different story from them, then suggested Walsh was spending too much time talking instead of listening.

That got Walsh going.

“I have a wager for Ms. Duckworth. Why don’t you and I sit down together with the owners’ of Chicago’s Prime Steakhouse,” Walsh said.

If it turned out that Walsh’s version of the story was true: “I will contribute $2,500 to your campaign.”

Duckworth declined: “I’m not going to grandstand with you, Joe.”

Incidentally, the Walsh camp headed out after the night debate — to Chicago’s Prime Steakhouse.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.