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updated: 8/8/2012 6:35 PM

Walsh under fire for calling Obama 'son'

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  • Congressman Joe Walsh is taking heat for comments he made about President Barack Obama.

      Congressman Joe Walsh is taking heat for comments he made about President Barack Obama.
    Daily Herald file photo by Mark Welsh/mwelsh@daily

 
By Kerry Lester
klester@dailyherald.com

Congressman Joe Walsh is under fire from an online civil rights organization for comments he made at a weekend Busse Woods picnic where he referred to President Barack Obama as "son."

ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson said in a statement that Walsh has "decided to stoke racial fears about President Barack Obama in order to leverage support for his own campaign."

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The McHenry Tea Partyer Wednesday responded by saying ColorOfChange could "grow up, get a life and smile."

Instead of focusing on a word the organization construes as racist, Walsh urged it to "focus on what's important."

Walsh made the Obama comments at a Sunday evening barbecue at the Elk Grove woods, which cost $40 per person and $75 per family to attend.

"There's something different on the ground, and I think it's going to overtake us all again," Walsh said at the event. "I think it's going to overtake the political class. I think it's going to respectfully pick this president up and pat him on the head and say, son, son, son, Mr. President, you were never ready to be president, now go home and work for somebody and find out how the real world works."

The organization is tying Walsh's remarks at the barbecue to ones he made earlier this year at a Schaumburg town hall, where he suggested the Democratic Party "wants" blacks and Hispanics to be dependent on government. "That's their game," Walsh said.

Walsh told the Daily Herald June 1 that those comments "had nothing to do with race. My shot was at the Democratic Party. Look, they're the party of (big) government," he said.

As the November election draws closer, Robinson pledged that the organization would continue to hold candidates like Walsh "accountable."

Walsh said he would have made the same comments about President George W. Bush.

Walsh is making a bid for re-election in the 8th Congressional District, which contains portions of Cook, Kane and DuPage counties. Kaitlin Fahey, spokeswoman for Walsh's Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, said in an email that "Mr. Walsh has a long history of saying offensive and inappropriate things. It's disappointing and irresponsible for a member of Congress to show such regular disrespect for our president and commander-in-chief."

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