The heated race for one of Arizona’s seats in the U.S. Senate got hotter today as the Democratic front runner, Ann Kirkpatrick, unveiled her first political ad of the election season.
The ad targets her main Republican opponent, U.S. Senator John McCain, by mashing up times he said he would support Donald Trump for president if Trump won the GOP nomination later this year.
“Donald Trump is dangerous for America,” the video begins, “but no matter what Donald Trump says, John McCain would support him for president . . . Even Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is distancing himself from Donald Trump. Not John McCain.”
Kirkpatrick’s ad, called “Trump,” highlights some of the real estate mogul’s more offensive moments on the campaign trail — his comment about Fox News star Megyn Kelly's having “blood come out of her wherever”; his promise to bring back waterboarding; and the time he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
“There was a time John McCain would have stood up to Donald Trump. Instead, McCain has decided to kowtow to Trump in the name of being ‘a loyal Republican,’” Kirkpatrick said in a statement released today.
“After 33 years in Washington, John McCain isn’t the man he used to be – he’s changed – and Arizonans deserve better than that.”
Kirkpatrick has launched a strong ground campaign to portray McCain as a flip-flopping candidate who only cares about Arizona issues when it’s election time, and according to the latest polls, her strategy appears to be working.
A survey conducted earlier this month found that 37 percent of voters say they favor Kirkpatrick and 38 percent favor McCain. The race has been characterized as highly competitive: The National Journal called Kirkpatrick “the toughest general election opponent McCain has ever faced,” and the Washington Post listed the contested senate seat as one of the 10 most likely to change political parties after the November election.
McCain faces a challenge from more conservative members of the GOP and has had a hard time wooing Hispanic and young voters.
To be fair, it’s not really clear that McCain actually supports anything Trump says or does, but he has made it clear that come November, he will throw his support behind whichever candidate the Republicans nominate at the convention.
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Early on in the presidential election process, McCain endorsed his longtime friend, South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, but since Graham withdrew from the race, McCain has avoided specifically endorsing any candidate.
“I’ll vote for the Republican nominee, obviously,” he tells a reporter in one of the clips used in Kirkpatrick’s video. “I’m a loyal Republican.”
Watch the campaign ad: