Ex-fighter pilot launches bid to replace Arizona Sen. Flake


TUCSON, Ariz. — Republican congresswoman Martha McSally embraced President Donald Trump and his hardline immigration rhetoric as she launched her Senate bid Friday, lashing out at the same establishment leaders who support her campaign to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

The 51-year-old retired Air Force combat pilot attacked Sharia law and sanctuary cities while vowing to support Trump’s push to build a massive border wall. Her comments came amid a series of public appearances and social media posts as she trekked across the state flying a World War II-era fighter plane.

“I’m a fighter pilot and I talk like one,” she said in an announcement video, a fiery beginning to one of the nation’s premier Senate contests. “That’s why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done.”

Later, she refused to condemn Trump’s closed-door description of African countries as “s—holes.”

“I speak a little salty behind closed doors at times as well, so I’m not going to throw the first stone on using any language,” McSally said after facing dozens of supporters inside a Tucson airport hangar.

Like few others, the Arizona election is expected to showcase the feud between the Republican Party’s establishment and its fiery anti-immigration wing in particular — all in a border state that features one of the nation’s largest Hispanic populations.

McSally is the early establishment favorite in the contest, even if she has recently adopted the same anti-establishment message that fueled Trump’s political rise in 2016. One of her primary opponents, outspoken Trump backer Kelli Ward, was quick to call McSally “a pretender” on Friday.

The race will test the appeal of the Trump political playbook — which emphasizes the dangers of illegal immigration and demands border security above all else — in a state where nearly 1 in 3 residents is Hispanic and roughly 1 million are eligible to vote, according to the Pew Research Center.

McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly a combat mission, flew herself across Arizona on Friday. Her outfit for the big day: a blue flight suit.

She enters a dynamic Republican primary field that features a nationally celebrated immigration hardliner, 85-year-old former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by Trump last year after defying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. Another high-profile candidate, Ward, was an early favorite of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Ward, like other conservative critics, noted Friday that McSally’s past statements don’t necessarily match the figurative bear hug she gave Trump on Friday. “The truth doesn’t line up with her new campaign rhetoric,” she tweeted.

Little more than a year ago, McSally refused to endorse Trump, and she referred to his sexually predatory comments caught on the “Access Hollywood” tape as “disgusting.”

On Twitter on Friday, McSally thanked Trump for attacking Democrats who are contemplating a government shutdown to protect young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

“As we discussed on Tuesday, we won’t allow our troops to be held hostage by DACA negotiations. Our military is relying on us,” McSally wrote, using an …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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