By Derrick Blakley

(CBS) – It’s one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country, one that pits a Tea Party favorite against an Iraq war hero.

As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, Congressman Joe Walsh and challenger Tammy Duckworth are pulling out all the stops.

If Mitt Romney is enjoying a bounce, Walsh, a fellow Republican, wants to hitch a ride.

Campaigning today before seniors, Walsh is fighting for his political life.

And he’s doing it on a battlefield custom-drawn to favor his opponent, Democrat Duckworth, in the 8th congressional district.

“She’s the chosen candidate of the White House and people around the White House,” Walsh says.

As an Army helicopter pilot, Duckworth lost her legs in battle. Walsh created a stir when he said she talks too much about her war experience.

“It’s not all I talk about, but I do talk about it because it’s at the core of who I am,” Duckworth says.

“She’s a hero,” Walsh says. “Everybody who’s worn the uniform is a hero, but we don’t just elect someone because you’re a war hero.”

Both are spending millions on TV ads.

Duckworth believes voters are tired of Walsh’s role as a political lightning rod.

“He’s said that his whole goal is to make sure nothing happens in Washington, and I just don’t think that’s where people in the district are right now,” she says.

Both Walsh and Duckworth want tax cuts for small- and medium-sized businesses. Those light industries employ thousands in the northwest suburbs.

Duckworth says she doesn’t want tax cuts for millionaires like Romney.

Walsh thinks he’s closing the gap with his opponent.

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