Senator Tammy Duckworth, like the man she might serve as vice president, prizes loyalty in her ranks and occasional mischief in her workplace.
So when a top communications aide prepared to defect last year to the presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, Ms. Duckworth recognized an opportunity. She recorded a faux media interview trashing Mr. Buttigieg for hiring her staff away, recruiting an intern to pose as a journalist on the tape. The file was sent to the departing aide, Sean Savett, who called the Buttigieg team in a panic.
Soon, Mr. Savett was summoned to the Illinois senator’s office, where she fumed theatrically, stalling as other staff members filed in quietly for the reveal: It was all a ruse. Ms. Duckworth handed him a parting gift — a Smirnoff Ice, the centerpiece of a viral drinking game known as “icing” — and gave a final senatorial directive:
“Get down on one knee and chug.”
A US Senator who will take the time to prank a departing staff member. I like it.
Ms. Duckworth has forged a political identity around trauma and personal resilience, her status as a wounded warrior shadowing every inch of her professional arc since her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down outside Baghdad in 2004.
She lost her legs in service to the US.
They were about 10 minutes from their destination when an explosion scorched through the right side of the cockpit, where Ms. Duckworth sat:
A rocket-propelled grenade. A fireball blast at her lower body.
She does not remember feeling pain immediately. She does remember the black smoke — and an aircraft suddenly impervious to her prompts. By this point, Ms. Duckworth learned later, she had no feet.
Mr. Milberg was able to land on a plot of open woods. Ms. Duckworth, on the cusp of losing consciousness, has retained a snapshot from the haze of her rescue: a cluster of tall grass poking through the base of the Black Hawk. She wondered how it had gotten there.
Ms. Duckworth awoke over a week later at Walter Reed. Her legs were gone.
Duckworth is of course one of those Biden might select as VP. She is more moderate than some of the other contenders.