Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) disavowed a fundraising pitch in which the Arizona Republican Party chair called on supporters to stop Democratic candidate Mark Kelly, whose wife, then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), was seriously wounded by a gunman in 2011, “dead in his tracks.”
State GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward raised eyebrows Thursday with the email, which called Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, a “gun-grabber.”
Today, McSally told KTAR radio she did not agree with the sentiment.
“Yeah, as you know in this climate, I think we all need to be deliberate with our words,” McSally said. “Look, I don’t agree with Mark Kelly, I think he’s out of step with Arizona on this issue, but those are definitely the words that I would not have used.”
Jacob Peters, a spokesperson for Kelly, blasted the fundraising email as “dangerous,” saying it “has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” according to KTAR.
McSally said she is only responsible for her words: “I certainly wouldn’t have chosen those words. I think there’s better ways for us to have discussions on these topics when we disagree, and just be deliberate, with you know, the words we’re choosing.”
Ward, meanwhile, has blamed the press for publicizing the email, tweeting “Utterly ridiculous! I don’t wish harm on Mr. Kelly.”
“Dishonest stories like this are dangerous and irresponsible!” she added Friday.
McSally was appointed in December 2018 to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat after McCain’s initial successor, Sen. Jon Kyl, announced his resignation.
Kelly is one of several Democratic candidates vying to face her in a 2020 special election for the remaining two years of McCain’s term.
Ward became the leader of the Arizona GOP after two unsuccessful primary campaigns for the US senate.
Last year, she complained Sen. John McCain’s announcement to halt medical treatment for brain cancer was timed to hurt her campaign.
Before his death she had recommended McCain resign so that she could be appointed to take his place.