Before Tammy Duckworth became Sen. Duckworth (D-Ill.), she was Capt. Duckworth of the Army National Guard.
In 2004, a rocket-propelled grenade knocked her Black Hawk helicopter from the Iraqi sky. She lost both legs in the attack, becoming the first female double amputee from the Iraq War.
Then, ignoring the fact that Donald Trump spent the presidential campaign summer of 2016 attacking the parents of an American soldier killed in Iraq, Collins added, “[Democrats] mourn [Iranian commander Qassem] Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families.”
Duckworth responded to Collins’ insults in a series of blistering tweets on Thursday.
“I left literal parts of my body in Iraq, where I was fighting terrorists,” she tweeted at the Georgia Republican. “Donald Trump spent months attacking an ACTUAL Gold Star Family. Rep. Doug Collins should be ashamed of himself for perpetuating this offensive lie.”
Trump repeatedly criticized and sought to demean the Khan family after Khizr Khan, with his wife Ghazala beside him, questioned what sacrifices Trump had made for his country in a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The couple’s son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004.
“In America, even people who disagree with the President vehemently can still love this country,” Duckworth continued. “I love my country just as much as anyone on the other side of the aisle — it’s why I volunteered to serve in uniform, unlike Donald Trump.”
Duckworth wasn’t finished. In an appearance on CNN, the senator addressed Collins’ baseless assertion that Democrats are mourning Soleimani.
“No, I am not sad that this man is dead. I am glad that he’s gone to meet his maker,” Duckworth said. “But at the end of the day, because of the poor handling by the White House and the consequences of their actions ... American forces are now under greater danger of attack from Iran and other hostile forces in the Middle East.”
Asked about Collins’ dragging Gold Star families into the debate over the killing of Soleimani, Duckworth told CNN host Brianna Keilar that it “disgusted” her. “I would never, ever use Gold Star families, military men and women, or their families, as any pawn in any political game,” the senator said.
She also blasted Trump on the floor of the Senate Wednesday for risking a “reckless, unauthorized war.” Duckworth said her 20-month-old toddler has better “impulse control.”
Collins apologized for his comments in a series of tweets on Friday.
“Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week,” he wrote.
“The comment I made on Wednesday evening was in response to a question about the War Powers Resolution being introduced in the House and House Democrats’ attempts to limit the president’s authority.”
The House passed the mostly symbolic war powers resolution Thursday night by a vote of 224-194, with three Republicans and one independent in support and eight Democrats against.
This story has been updated with Collins’ apology.
Mary Papenfuss contributed to this report.