The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday quickly deleted a tweet in which it accused Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee Iraq War veteran, of having "a sad record of not standing up for our veterans."
Duckworth's campaign immediately sought to link the unfortunate choice of words with Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, whom she hopes to face in the general election. A Duckworth spokesman called the tweet "tasteless and dishonest."
"Tammy has made fighting for veterans her life's work, and will continue to do so in the Senate," said a statement attributed to Duckworth campaign spokesman Matt McGrath.
An NRSC spokeswoman did not directly answer when asked if the Kirk-allied campaign organization will apologize for the tweet. A Kirk campaign spokesman didn't speak to the tweet specifically but questioned Duckworth's record on veterans' affairs.
The Duckworth campaign made the tweet part of a campaign fundraising email, as did a veterans organization that backs her campaign. The flap illustrates the high-stakes nature of the Illinois U.S. Senate race, which is expected to be among the nation's most expensive and harshly contested this year.
In 2004, Duckworth was a National Guard officer in Iraq co-piloting a helicopter that was taken down by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both her legs and nearly died but recovered after numerous surgeries. Duckworth often makes use of a wheelchair.
Duckworth, a two-term congresswoman from Hoffman Estates, is on the ballot in next Tuesday's Democratic U.S. Senate primary along with Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey.