Walberg Compares Iraq to Detroit

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A first-term congressman from Michigan is defending statements he made comparing parts of Iraq to Detroit and Harvey, Ill.

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said Thursday that Detroit and Harvey, just outside Chicago, were just two examples of communities where safety and city services are comparable to 80 percent to 85 percent of Iraq.

Walberg said on Detroit radio station WJR that U.S. troops in Iraq tell him the military is achieving successes.

"People are walking around communities (in Iraq) as safe as they are walking around -- at the very least -- in Detroit and Chicago and other places," he said.

Walberg made similar comments Monday on a Lansing radio show which were criticized Wednesday by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's office and Harvey Mayor Eric J. Kellogg.

Kilpatrick's mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, also issued a written statement Thursday calling the initial comparison of Detroit to Iraq "out of order."

"I am outraged that a congressman representing the state of Michigan, whose economic strength is directly related to the success of its largest city, would make such ignorant, absurd comments about Detroit," said Rep. Kilpatrick, D-Detroit.

Walberg spokesman Matt Lahr declined to comment on Rep. Kilpatrick's statement, but did say Walberg is giving a voice to the troops and has requested to visit Iraq.

Walberg said he is being targeted for his support of President Bush and the war in Iraq. He stressed in Thursday's interview that his statements were meant to encourage Americans about successes in Iraq, not demean cities like Detroit or Harvey.

"As in any major city, there are hot zones, as in the country of Iraq. Detroit is not a negative to me. It's a great city in a great state."

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