Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Iraq War veteran and Democratic nominee for Congress in the 8th district of Illinois, said today that U.S. Marines should have guarded the consulate in Benghazi, Libya–not private military contractors.
Duckworth was asked about the issue while greeting veterans outside a lecture she delivered at Santa Monica College in California. Local media were denied the opportunity to ask questions about her campaign but one person managed to pose a policy question.
President Barack Obama recently referred to events in the Middle East–including an attack on the consulate in Benghazi that claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador and two former Navy SEALs–as “bumps in the road.”
Duckworth did not take issue with the comment, but said that Marines ought to have been deployed to protect U.S. diplomats rather than private security personnel, who she said are at additional risk.
“Marines have always been the ones to protect our embassies,” she said, adding that she believed “privatizing government” functions in general was a bad idea.
Duckworth, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot, was well received in Santa Monica, with two standing ovations from the capacity crowd in a campus theater. During questions and answers that followed, she deftly steered clear of a political question from an Obama supporter in the audience who had wanted her to share her thoughts about opposing Republican policies.
Many of those who came to hear her address were fellow veterans, with whom Duckworth shared her story of surviving wounds that cost her legs and much sensation in her right arm.
After her defeat in a 2006 race for Congress, Duckworth was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to lead the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. She also served as an assistant secretary in the federal Department of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration.
When Democrats in the Illinois legislature redrew congressional districts, they designed the new 8th district to be easier for a Democrat–Duckworth in particular–to win.
Left-wing pollster Public Policy Polling announced this week that Duckworth has a 14-point lead in the district, leading the NBC affiliate to comment on the “effective job House Speaker Michael Madigan did in redrawing the district to elect a Democrat.”
Incumbent Republican Joe Walsh, however, points to other polls that show he is within the margin of error or even ahead by a modest percentage.