again called on Democratic challenger
to leave his family out of their contentious campaign, even as he got his eldest son involved by featuring him at a Tuesday news conference.
At issue is a series of TV ads and mail pieces in which Duckworth labels
Walsh said he's been open about his money problems with 8th District voters, but claims Duckworth has crossed a line by bringing up the child support suit that was settled in April. As part of the agreement, Walsh and his ex-wife issued a statement saying he was never a "deadbeat dad."
"While I disagree with Ms. Duckworth on virtually every public policy issue, I had always believed that she was a woman of honor and integrity," Walsh said. "For her to now attack my family on an issue that has already been resolved is a new low I had hoped would not be reached by her."
Duckworth defended the ads, saying they contain information available in public records. She said Walsh was playing the victim.
"I think the only person who has embarrassed his family is Mr. Walsh," Duckworth said.
On Tuesday, the congressman's 25-year-old-son, Joey Walsh, jumped into the fray. With his father telling him to "take your time," the younger Walsh read a letter addressed to Duckworth on behalf of himself and two younger siblings as TV cameras rolled.
Joey Walsh spoke of his parents' sacrifices to pay for Catholic school, and how his father coached them in football, baseball and basketball. When his mother sued for back child support, the son said his father worked to resolve the issue without bringing the children into the news.
"We understand that politics is a rough business, but these ads are wrong and very hurtful to us," the son said. "It's wrong you're saying these untrue things about our dad. Please Ms. Duckworth, try to win this campaign by focusing on issues where you disagree with our dad. But don't attack him as a father. He is and was a wonderful father."
Joey Walsh said he had to convince his father to allow him to speak out, saying he was particularly concerned about his 18-year-old brother who is in high school and must deal with a backlash from fellow students.
One Duckworth mail piece reads "There's a name they call you when you don't pay your bills." It features a newspaper headline about the child support lawsuit. Another mailer lists a number of Walsh's personal financial problems, including tax liens dating to the 1990 as well as his 2009 home foreclosure. It declares "Deadbeat Joe, it's time to go."
Walsh’s news conference marked the second day in a row he’s chosen to highlight Duckworth’s attack. It comes after Walsh found himself embroiled in a controversy last week over his remarks that there is no medical reason to perform an
Duckworth has accused Walsh of being a "bully," saying he has criticized lots of people on the campaign trail but can't take it in return.
“He is the one who has made this a character issue, and he cannot, if he's going to be a bully to everyone else, then cry foul and try to pass himself off as a victim when somebody stands up to his bullying,” said Duckworth, who met with 100 students and residents at