From time to time, everyone says things in a clumsy or awkward way, using language they wish they could take back. Occasionally, it’s even a national news story.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee this afternoon published a tweet that intended to attack Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), a leading U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois, running against Republican incumbent Mark Kirk. The exact wording of the Twitter message read:
“Tammy Duckworth has a sad record of not standing up for our veterans.”
As a substantive matter, the line of attack is itself problematic. Duckworth is a decorated combat veteran who served as an Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq war. After returning home she was the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and later served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, before running for Congress.
When it comes to representing the interests of veterans, the Illinois Democrat has a lengthy record of service.
But far more unfortunate was the NRSC’s choice of words: Republicans blasted Duckworth for “not standing up,” despite the fact that Duckworth is a double-amputee who lost both of her legs during her service in Iraq.
A spokesperson for the Democratic candidate said in a statement the Republican tweet was “tasteless and dishonest, just like everything else to do with Mark Kirk’s flailing campaign.”
Note, about 10 minutes after publishing the tweet, the National Republican Senatorial Committee apparently recognized its misstep and deleted the message. It was, however, quickly captured by a variety of news outlets.
It’s hard to believe Duckworth’s Republican critics would have used such language deliberately, and the fact that the party officials deleted the tweet suggests this was an inadvertent offense.
Update: I spoke to an NRSC official this afternoon, who acknowledged the Republican committee’s mistake, and added in a statement, “It would be great if reporters would pay as much attention to a deleted tweet as they should to Tammy Duckworth being sued by VA whistleblowers for ignoring claims of mistreatment and corruption.”