At a debate sponsored by the Illinois League of Women Voters between Democratic incumbent Rep. Melissa Bean, GOP challenger Joe Walsh and Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer Wednesday, the audience loudly objected when the moderator, Kathy Tate-Bradish, insisted on proceeding without reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. In the end, she didn't stand a chance against the 300-member audience. The camera captures Republican Joe Walsh's reaction:
Ms. Tate-Bradish reportedly scolded the crowd after the pledge ended, blaming the outburst on the Republican candidate. The LWV executive director, Jan Czarnik, also condemned the Pledge's recitation, telling the local news, “It's a phony patriotism issue is what it is,” she said. “[Republicans] must think it helps their campaign.”
Both LWV have been active members of the progressive movement. Ms. Tate-Bradish was an active supporter of Barack Obama's presidential campaign and even hosted campaign events for the then-Senator in her own home.
Ms. Czarnik is a former ACORN Project Vote worker and has been involved in the progressive People for the American Way, but as blogger Jeff Dunetz notes, these former affiliations would surely in no way lead her to unfairly criticize a Republican candidate, right?
Ms. Tate-Bradish told the Daily Herald that she stood by her handling of the Pledge request. “It's pretty patriotic to run forums in election seasons where every candidate can be heard and they're not stomped on,” she said.
One man who attended the debate, an Island Lake resident and U.S. Air Force veteran named Joseph Ptak, said Friday that he had asked for the Pledge to be recited at the debate, calling it a "proper way to begin the event that was in a high school and had student participation." According to Ptak, there were many veterans in the audience that evening and he objects to Czarnik questioning his sincerity.
“I'm a Joe Walsh supporter, but first and foremost I'm an American,” Ptak said.
Update: New video has surfaced which captures the spontaneous pledge, followed by a scolding from the debate moderator for the audience's "disrespect." The moderator goes on to accuse the crowd of having planned to disrupt the debate before it began, a claim met with boos from the audience: