Who is Tammy Duckworth, the U.S. senator from Illinois who is said to be on the shortlist for signing the vice president on the Democratic ticket?
Born in Bangkok and wounded in the Iraq war, Tammy Duckworth has a purple heart and the instincts of a street fighter.
Her name has often come up during high-level discussions about signing the vice-president for the supposed Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. She has also become a target for Fox News̵7; Tucker Carlson and other conservatives.
When she recently told CNN that she had an open mind about the prospect of removing American monuments to American founders and slaveholders, Mr. Carlson questioned her patriotism.
She fired again, saying Mr. Carlson should “walk a mile at my feet and then show me whether or not I love America.”
Her challenge to Mr. Carlson drew national notice and drew people’s attention both to her political acumen and to her military background. She was shot down by a helicopter during the Iraq war and lost her legs.
Many Democrats believe her military record and her persistence in fighting conservatives, as well as her Asian-American background, would strengthen Mr Biden’s candidacy. If he chose her as a candidate husband, say her supporters, it would help to gather votes among veterans, minorities and women.
However, many believe Biden should choose a black friend, instead – Senator Kamala Harris is often cited as an option. In addition, Ms. Duckworth’s state is confidently democratic. Other Democratic ticket contenders, a group that includes New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, could help Mr. Biden in states where he could use an incentive.
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The election of an added friend has increased the importance to Democrats because of Mr. Biden’s age and his appreciation for his role.
He is 77 years old, and if elected he would be 82 by the end of his term. He sees himself as a “transitional candidate”, and even his diehard supporters assume that if he were elected he would not seek a second term.
This means that the person serving as its vice president may one day become president.
Ms. Duckworth, who is 52 years old, is best known for her work in veterans affairs. Moreover, she has worked on health care policy and has often spoken about national security. She fought in the Iraq war, but she believes it was a mistake.
“It’s a difficult lesson,” she says. “And I hope this nation will be much more skeptical about the reasons for going to war.”
She also has a compelling personal story. She and her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, have two daughters, Abigail and Maile Pearl, and she was the first to have a child while serving as a U.S. senator.
Her father, Frank, an American citizen, worked for the United Nations, and her mother, Lamai, is originally from Thailand.
Mrs. Duckworth, who speaks Thai, lived with her parents in Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia because of her father’s work in the UN.
The family was in Cambodia, living in Phnom Penh during a period of violence shortly before the Khmer Rouge came to power in the mid-1970s.
She remembers going to the market with her mother when, suddenly, the bombs started falling. Her mother pushed her to the floor of the car, Ms. Duckworth says, “so I would not watch the bleeding.”
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Mrs. Duckworth later enlisted in the military, following in the footsteps of her father, a Vietnam veteran. He once told me that he never sees himself running for president.
“I do not have that fire in my stomach,” she says. But she is a fierce advocate for Mr Biden and he has excelled at her.
During an online fundraiser, he praised her bravery in battle and in politics. “I can not think of anyone who has shown more courage,” he said. Addressing her directly, he said, “I am grateful to you here with me in this fight.”
Ideologically, Ms. Duckworth is a good match for Mr. Biden, a Democrat. Among Democrats in the U.S. Senate, she also appears in the middle of the ideological spectrum.
In recent weeks, she has plunged into President Donald Trump and “his failure to lead our nation,” showing her willingness to act as Mr. Biden’s attack dog during the campaign.
Mr Biden’s aides interviewed him not long ago about signing for vice president, she said during a live interview with the Washington Post on Thursday. She described the job interview as “positive”.
Who could be his direct friend Joe Biden?
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed that he will choose a woman as his running mate. Those on the shortlist include:
- California Senator Kamala Harris
- Former national security adviser Susan Rice
- Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer
- Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
- Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin
- Arizona Senator Kyrsten Cinema
Read more about Mr. Biden’s potential friend here
After retiring from the military, Ms. Duckworth worked on veterans affairs at the state and national levels and was elected to Congress in 2012. She won a senate seat in 2016, becoming the new state senator and following in the footsteps of the President Barack Obama. Its rise from state policy to national importance has been rapid.
Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says she has moved faster than anyone in politics he has seen in half a century. Mr. Obama, who also began his career in Illinois politics, rose higher than Mrs. Duckworth. But as Mr Simpson points out: “It took a little longer.”
Peter Levin, the founder of a software company in Washington, has worked with her in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and says she has an innate talent for politics.
“She naturally brings out the best in people even when there is tension in the room,” he says, explaining that she is able to tune her “language”, her accent, to the person she is talking to “so that build consensus.
Her record in politics is far from perfect, however.
She has fought for legislation to be passed in Congress, and has been criticized for her work on veterans issues. She said all the right things, according to her opponents in Illinois, but many of the veterans’ programs she talked about were never dropped.
Criticism has not slowed her down, and throughout her career she has shown an unusual determination. As she recovered from her war injuries at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland in 2004, she was given a “heavy duty pain block,” she says, but they barely fooled the agony of losing her legs.
Yet during her recovery and in the years that followed, she showed almost no remorse for herself: “To me, it just comes back to the fact that I’m so grateful to be alive. I know it sounds so much.” say. “But I think about what my friends did to get me out and about the pilot who took me to safety. I can’t run around.”
Her supporters are hoping Mr Biden will choose her as his running mate, so that she can bring her enthusiasm to the campaign. He is expected to announce his decision this week.