Duckworth’s Thai Heritage Attacked by U.S. Senate Opponent

U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., appears at a brunch in Springfield, Illinois. Duckworth is now a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in the November 2016 general election. Photo: Seth Perlman / Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — A Bangkok-born candidate for the U.S. Senate and American war hero was attacked for her Thai heritage during a televised debate Thursday night in Springfield, Illinois.

As Tammy Duckworth spoke about her family’s long history of serving the U.S. military stretching back to the nation’s founding during a debate at the University of Illinois, her opponent fired back with a comment painting her as a foreigner.

“I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” said GOP candidate Mark Kirk, a congressman elected to the upper house in 2010.

Read: Bangkok-Born U.S. Senate Candidate’s ‘War Hero’ Record Attacked

Kirk’s one sentence response came after Duckworth, who lost both legs when the Black Hawk she was co-piloting was shot down in Iraq, laid out her family’s history of service during the 90-minute debate.

“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution. I am a daughter of the American Revolution,” she said. “I’ve bled for this nation.”

Born in Bangkok, the congresswoman is the daughter of an American father and Thai mother of Chinese descent.

She is an important part of the U.S. Democratic Party’s bid to reclaim control of the Senate in the Nov. 8 election. Most polls overwhelmingly favor her to defeat Kirk.


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