U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a decorated U.S. Army veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq war, branded President Trump as America's “coward in chief” on Thursday in a scathing Democratic National Convention speech portraying him as a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Standing next to her wheelchair with her prosthetic legs showing, Duckworth criticized Trump for refusing to confront Putin over Russia's reported payment of bounties to Afghan forces for the killing of American troops.
With the U.S. Capitol as her backdrop, the Illinois senator contrasted Trump with his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, saying the former vice president understands military sacrifice from his late son Beau Biden's deployment to Iraq in the Delaware National Guard.
“That's the kind of leader our service members deserve, one who understands the risks they face, and who would actually protect them by doing his job as commander in chief,” Duckworth said.
“Instead, they have a coward in chief who won't stand up to Vladimir Putin, read his daily intelligence briefings, or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops heads.”
Duckworth, a former Army helicopter pilot who was awarded the Purple Heart, was one of the top contenders to be Biden's running mate before he chose California Sen. Kamala Harris.
“As president, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet,” she said. “He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops or threaten them against Americans peacefully exercising their constitutional rights.
“Joe Biden would stand up for what's right. Stand tall for our troops and stand strong against our enemies, because, unlike Trump, Joe Biden has common decency.”
Duckworth's convention speech was not the first time she used her stature as a wounded veteran to attack Trump. In 2018, she famously ridiculed him for suggesting Democrats who failed to applaud his State of the Union speech might have committed treason.
“We don't live in a dictatorship or a monarchy,” Duckworth said at the time on Twitter. “I swore an oath — in the military and in the Senate — to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.” She was alluding to Trump's draft deferment during the Vietnam War based to his claim of bone spurs.
Duckworth, 52, served four years in the House before winning her Senate seat four years ago. She was assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs under President Obama and, before that, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
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