Duckworth shows off family photo after Kirk questions Thai, Revolutionary heritage

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CHICAGO, Oct. 28 (UPI) — Rep. Tammy Duckworth responded to criticism from her Republican opponent Sen. Mark Kirk, who in a debate Thursday questioned her Thai heritage and her family’s history of U.S. military service, by posting a family photo on Twitter.

Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs and partial use of one arm after being injured in combat, touted her family’s history of military service and status as a “daughter of the Revolution” during Thursday’s debate in the race for an Illinois Senate seat.

“I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk said in response.

Duckworth was born in Thailand to a Thai mother and an American father who was serving overseas in the military. Duckworth’s paternal side traces its military service record back to the Revolutionary War, she said.

Democrats pounced on the remark, criticizing Kirk for appearing not to understand Duckworth’s family tree could include both a first-generation American mother and a father whose parents date back to colonial times.

Duckworth’s response Friday was to post a family portrait of her and her parents, with both herself and her father in military dress uniforms.

“My mom is an immigrant and my dad and his family have served this nation in uniform since the Revolution,” Duckworth wrote.

The debate gaffe can be ill-afforded by Kirk’s campaign. Polls show him trailing Duckworth in liberal Illinois and political analysts have regarded him as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent seeking re-election this cycle.

Kirk’s campaign released a statement on the controversy Friday, praising Duckworth’s family for their military service, while criticizing her debate performance. The statement did not include an apology.

“Sen. Kirk has consistently called Rep. Duckworth a war hero and honors her family’s service to this country,” the statement read. “But that’s not what this debate was about. Rep. Duckworth lied about her legal troubles, was unable to defend her failures at the VA, and then falsely attacked Sen. Kirk over his record on supporting gay rights.”

Later Friday, Kirk issued a formal apology on Twitter: “Sincerest apologies to an American hero, Tammy Duckworth, and gratitude for her family’s service.”