When longtime Arizona Senator John McCain died on Saturday night after a long battle with brain cancer, it didn’t take long for the lunatic fringe of the right to show why they’re called deplorables. Twitter and Facebook lit up with disgusting attacks on a man considered a squish and a “cuck” by Donald Trump diehards, voicing in public what many of them have long said in private. But one of the worst came from Kelli Ward, a Republican candidate running to succeed Arizona’s other Senator, Jeff Flake.
McCain succumbed a little over 24 hours after his family announced that he was ending treatment for the cancer. The Arizona Republic reported that Ward campaign staffer Jonathan Williams thought the timing of this announcement looked suspicious. He openly wondered whether McCain deliberately made this announcement on the same day that Ward launched her statewide bus tour ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
Did Ward shut him down? Nope. In what she apparently thought was a private setting, she mused that McCain’s team wanted to set “a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me.” McCain died just hours after that comment, which has since been deleted.
Not surprisingly, Ward has been kicked up, down, and sideways for this horribly classless remark. But believe it or not, Ward’s public comments make her private slagging of McCain look even worse.
Soon after the news broke of McCain’s death, Ward had this to say on Twitter.
At first glance, this looked like a classy statement from a woman who came under fire for openly hoping that McCain would resign after he was diagnosed with brain cancer–and then openly hoped Governor Doug Ducey would appoint her to fill the seat if McCain did resign. She was apparently hoping to make up for losing the 2016 Republican primary to McCain after holding him to 51 percent.
But once word got out about how Ward trashed McCain in private, Twitter was not pleased.
In other words, the Internet isn’t buying Ward’s attempt to look like a decent human being in public after acting like a harpy in private.
Ward kept up this line on Facebook. In a since-deleted comment, she claimed that the media was trying to “make something out of nothing,” and she has always kept McCain in her prayers. Um, Kelli? When you claim that a man with terminal cancer announced the end of his treatment supposedly to steal your thunder, you’re delusional if you think being called out for it is making something out of nothing.
Now why would Ward even think she could get away with this in this day and age? Well, one plausible explanation is that she isn’t used to doing heavy lifting for a campaign. Ward began her career as the state senator from the 5th district, centered around Kingman and Lake Havasu City in the state’s northwest corner. According to Daily Kos’ database of election data, it’s easily the most Republican district in the state. Trump won it by a punishing 73-22 margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Mitt Romney routed Barack Obama 70-28 in 2012.
It was no different at the state level; Ward romped to victory in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote, and was unopposed for reelection in 2014. She gave up her state senate seat in 2015 for her primary challenge to McCain, per Arizona’s resign-to-run laws. Arizona has nonpartisan redistricting, so she really did represent that district. When you’re used to campaigning in a district that red, you’re not used to being held to account for acting like an idiot.
Ward already proved herself manifestly unfit to serve in the Senate when she hoped McCain would die quickly. With her duplicity on social media in the last 24 hours, she put it beyond any doubt–she’s not fit to clean the Capitol, let alone serve in it. If Ward wins the Senate primary and gets destroyed in November by the likely Democratic nominee, Congresswoman Krysten Sinema, she will only have herself to blame–not anyone trying to set “a particular narrative.”
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