CHICAGO — Former Tea Party congressman Joe Walsh criticized Michelle Obama in a tweet Friday morning that asked if the first lady was attending the funeral of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton to make a political point.
"'Heartbroken' Michelle Obama attending funeral of Hadiya Pendleton. I guess the other 553 murder victims didn't break her heart," Walsh tweeted Friday. "Most of the 553 Chicago murder victims in 2012 & 2013 were young black males. Is she attending this funeral to make a political point?"
A White House official said the first lady plans to attend the funeral, along with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"This is overwhelming — that her life was so impactful, so meaningful, that they’d want to send Mrs. Obama," said Hadiya's aunt, Kimiko Pettis.
Hadiya was slain not far from the president and first lady's Kenwood home. Her killing sparked outrage around the country. It came just a week after the high school sophomore had gone to Washington, D.C., to participate in Barack Obama's inauguration festivities.
Walsh, a Republican from Chicago's suburbs, has been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama. Though he lost re-election to Tammy Duckworth in November, he has still tried to stay in the political spotlight.
He didn't back down from the tweets later Friday, telling DNAinfo.com Chicago, "If I were one of the 3-, 4-, 500 African-American families in the last year that lost somebody to gun violence, I'd be so offended that Michelle Obama is 'heartbroken' over Miss Pendleton's death. She's never used that word before. Neither her or the president or Rahm Emanuel have ever really acknowledged the other murders over the last year. I just found that offensive."
Mayor Emanuel has actually spoken regularly and extensively about the city's murder woes over the last year, but that didn't keep Walsh from trying to drag him into the fray.
"It's not too much of a stretch [to think] this is purely a political maneuver on their part," Walsh added. "There's an agenda now and this is no secret and the great thing about Rahm Emanuel is he's very overt in what he's doing. It makes it easy for all of us. When he said a couple years ago, 'Don't ever waste a crisis,' he's made a career out of doing this."
Emanuel actually said, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," and quickly clarified that statement.
The Office of the Mayor and the media spokeswoman for the first lady did return requests for comment.
"This president and this first lady never talked about guns or gun control or the murders in Chicago all of last year," Walsh said. "Now, because Newtown happened, they have an agenda to push, which is a gun-control agenda, and so they're going to do everything they can to put a spotlight on that. And that's the only reason she and Arne Duncan are coming to Chicago."
Walsh recently suggested gun owners should break the law if new gun-control legislation is passed.