Martha McSally Swings, Misses, Steps On Rake In Mark Kelly Debate
This is how bad the situation is for Arizona's Temp-to-Perm Senator Martha McSally: During her debate last night with Democratic challenger and freaking astronaut Mark Kelly, McSally couldn't directly say she was “proud" of her support for Donald Trump. She went full Susan Collins, but she's not trying to pose as a moderate in Maine. This is Arizona, once a reliably red state, and she can't even say the “p" word about the incumbent Republican president.
Martha McSally refusing to answer a debate question about whether she’s proud of her support for Trump is peak crin… https://t.co/6lP342WcRb— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1602045607.0
MODERATOR: The question was, “Are you proud of your support for President Trump?"
MCSALLY: I'm proud to be fighting for Arizona every day!
MODERATOR: Is that a yes or a no for President Trump?
MCSALLY: Putting legislation on President Trump's desk.
MODERATOR: So, you're proud of your support for President Trump?
MCSALLY: The legislation we put on his desk is to CUT ARIZONA'S TAXES!
Sad! We don't blame her. Trump is terrible, but McSally has appeared at rallies for the guy. It's on tape.
Trump is not popular in Arizona.
A recent poll showed him trailing Joe Biden 41 to 49 percent. Former Senator John McCain's widow, Cindy, has endorsed Biden and has little, as in no, interest in supporting McSally. I can't read Cindy McCain's mind, but she's probably noticed how McSally has never defended the man whose seat she temporarily occupies from Trump's postmortem insults.
McSally pinky swore last night that she's personally offended whenever Trump attacks McCain, who can't defend himself on account of his deadness.
MCSALLY: I've publicly and privately repeatedly talked to President Trump and asked him to stop attacking John McCain. Quite frankly, it pisses me off when he does it.
If she's done this, which I doubt, she's failed to stop Trump's attacks, so that's just another way she's useless.
McSally is faring even worse than Trump. Kelly is ahead of her 50 to 39 percent. She hasn't led a poll in months, and early voting begins today. She's toast, and Kelly made the clear case as to why he's better suited to fill McCain's seat.
McSally also walked into rake when she defended Trump's COVID-19 response.
MCSALLY: Mark, do you agree with the president's decision to ban travel from China?
KELLY: Yes, but Senator you would understand this as a pilot. You guys did step one of the emergency procedure. And then you didn't do anything else, and that is a colossal failure. When the president thanked China on behalf of the American people in January, Senator McSally stood up and did nothing. We have four percent of the world's population. We have 21 percent of the deaths from COVID-19. And it's because this administration didn't handle this as a public health issue. They dismissed the scientists. I can't think of one occasion where Senator McSally has stood up when the president has made a mistake ... or the governor has done something not quite right. That's not leadership.
McSally tried to make the Trumpian handle “Counterfeit Kelly" fetch, but you know you're losing when you're desperately arguing that your opponent is actually someone else entirely. She claimed Kelly is “bought and paid for" by Senator Chuck Schumer and secretly in league with Rep. Ilhan Omar. If you took a drink for every gross anti-semitic or race-baiting trope, you'd have died from alcohol poisoning.
The lowest point of the evening was when McSally charged Kelly with belonging to a "far-left" group whose co-founder sleeps next to him.
Martha McSally claims Mark Kelly is part of an "extreme left wing" group but refuses to name it. The group is his g… https://t.co/vdEIqqAxCF— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch.com)1602042857.0
MCSALLY: Keep in mind, $57 million that he raised from some of the most extreme leftwing people in the country in order to then endorse and bankroll these individuals who are now in office with these ideas that are dangerous for Arizona. [...] He has been a political operator for a decade [...] some of the most extreme leftwing candidates in our country, running for office, bankrolling them, endorsing them, look at the photo, he's got his arm around Omar in Minneapolis.
KELLY: The organization that Senator McSally is referring to is named after my wife, Gabby Giffords. Gabby was injured, shot in the head, in 2011. The issue of gun violence is personal for Gabby and me, and I'll never forget what she went through for that year and a half. In hospital for six months, a year of significant rehab. Today, she still does physical therapy and speech therapy. So we formed an organization to try and help communities become safer from gun violence. I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, I am a gun owner. Our rights and traditions are so important. But we can never let a bunch of kids in the classroom get killed and think there is nothing we can do about it. Common sense things like background checks for all gun sales, red flag laws, these are common sense things that most Arizonans support, apparently Senator McSally does not.
It took almost a week for McSally to officially lose her first Senate race. She's on track for a far speedier defeat next month.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."