In case it wasn’t clear, the days of Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally keeping her distance from President Donald Trump are over.
McSally, the Republican Senate candidate from Arizona, delivered a speech alongside Trump at his rally in Mesa on Friday that delved into fiery Trumpian attacks and raved about the president.
Held in a sweltering hangar at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, the rally is part of Trump’s Western-state push to urge voters to support Republican candidates. McSally may need whatever boost he can bring her, although recent polls have shown that the small lead of her competitor, Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, may be dwindling.
“Thank you for coming to Arizona, and I just wanted to let you know, we are not crazy here,” McSally told Trump after she stepped up to the podium, the crowd chanting her name. “Unlike what my opponent says, we are not a meth lab of democracy."
Arizona is back, thanks to Trump’s leadership, McSally said, but there’s “so much more to do.”
In his introduction, Trump called McSally “a true American patriot, a person I’ve gotten to know very well,” not to mention “a great woman.”
He urged the crowd to send McSally to the Senate “to protect your jobs, defend your borders, and continue making America Great.”
A two-term congresswoman from Tucson, McSally was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. She faces Sinema in a nationally watched contest that could determine whether Republicans hang onto their thin Senate majority.
McSally tore into her opponent as a radical, seemingly relishing the amped-up, MAGA-gear-wearing crowd.
“Think about it: The contrast could not be more clear,” she told them.
She pointed out that Sinema said she would have voted no on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And she raised old comments from Sinema’s activist days that emerged recently — in 2003, Sinema said on a radio show while responding to a hypothetical question that she wouldn't care if the host joined the Taliban.
“I was shooting at the Taliban, and Sinema says it’s okay for an American to join the Taliban,” McSally said.
The crowd anticipated some of McSally’s lines of attack aimed at Sinema’s Green Party-activist past: “I was wearing a flight suit, and she was wearing a...”
"PINK TUTU," the crowd yelled back.
A onetime moderate, McSally kept Trump at arms-length while the billionaire ran for and won the presidency.
But in order to beat back hard-line rivals Kelli Ward and former sheriff Joe Arpaio during the Republican Senate primary in August, McSally adopted Trump’s style of rhetoric and embraced his goals, like the construction of a border wall.
McSally touched down outside of the hangar on a helicopter with Trump, following a tour and round table at Luke Air Force Base.
Before Trump and McSally arrived, Rosemary Grieger, a 62-year-old Glendale resident, said that McSally will be a successful senator. “I like that she was in the military,” Grieger told Phoenix New Times.
A registered Republican, Grieger said she is no fan of Sinema. “I think she looks too polished, like she’s a practiced politician,” Grieger said.
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s endorsement of McSally should help her chances at getting elected, Grieger suggested.
In his speech, Trump also heaped praise on Arizona Republicans including Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, Congressmen Andy Biggs and David Schweikert, and Governor Doug Ducey.
Trump alluded to the national attention on Arizona and the Senate race this election cycle.
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“They’re all talking about Arizona, and they’re all talking about Martha McSally,” Trump said.
Sinema, he said, joined a “shameful Democrat mob attacking justice Brett Kavanaugh.” He accused her of being soft on immigration and the border.
A vote for Sinema is a “dangerous” vote, Trump said, because it’s a vote for a few Democratic leaders in Congress, all of them villains in the eyes of Republicans: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Voting for McSally will be the second-greatest vote they’ve cast, Trump told the crowd — the "first greatest vote" was “for me.”