Walberg draws fire for Detroit, Iraq remark: Calls violence levels similar in areas

Associated Press
Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, is drawing criticism for a comparison he made during a radio show interview in which he said much of Iraq is no more dangerous than Detroit.

The first-term congressman, whose 7th District includes western and northern Washtenaw County, made the remarks Monday during an interview with WILS-AM in Lansing.

Walberg said the returning troops he has talked with "indicate to me that 80 to 85 percent, in a conservative fashion, of (Iraq) is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities. That's an encouraging sign.''

Program host Jack Ebling remarked, "I've never heard Iraq compared to Detroit before.''

Walberg responded: "Well, in fact, in many places it's as safe and cared for as Detroit or Harvey, Illinois, or some other places that have trouble with armed violence that takes place on occasion.''

Detroit and Chicago had higher rates of murder, assault, robbery, burglary and car theft than the nation as a whole in 2005, according to FBI statistics.

"It's absurd to compare Detroit and Iraq in any way,'' James Canning, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, said Wednesday.

Walberg spokesman Matt Lahr said in a statement that the congressman "frequently shares sentiments expressed to him by the soldiers and veterans he meets at Walter Reed hospital or the (Veterans Affairs) hospital in Battle Creek.

"These soldiers have expressed optimism to the congressman about the safety and security of the majority of Iraq.''

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