PHOENIX, Arizona. -- One of the Republicans running for Senate in Arizona spent time on the last day before the primary election to parse through whether or not she meant to offend people in her recent social media posts, one of which included a suggestion there was a narrative at play when Sen. John McCain announced he was stopping his cancer treatment.
Kelli Ward, one of the three candidates looking to fill Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat, had a long history of being critical of Sen. John McCain before he passed away on Saturday, and now she’s caught up in a battle of semantics about her comments about the late senator in the two days following his death.
It all started on Friday, when the McCain family announced that he was ending treatment for brain cancer. That same day, Ward launched a two-day campaign bus tour. One of her aides later wrote on Facebook that the timing of the McCain announcement was planned to hurt Ward’s campaign, and Ward then commented on that post, writing: "I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me."
The post and her comment, which were posted hours before McCain’s death was announced, have since been deleted, but screengrabs of the post began circulating.
Ward has placed the blame on the media.
Adding to this, another of Ward's social media posts caused controversy today when she tweeted that "political correctness is like a cancer!"
At a news conference this afternoon, when asked to address the criticism she is receiving over the comment, especially in light of McCain’s fatal brain cancer, she said "They have nothing to do with each other really, but political correctness is like a cancer."
When asked if the "political correctness" tweet was intended to troll social media users, she said "I can’t see how it would be trolling, but I can see how you might misunderstand it."
She also debated the fact that she previously called on McCain to step down in light of his glioblastoma diagnosis, with her argument being that since she said anyone who is unable to serve - be it for health or financial or personal reasons - should step down, and McCain was included in that group, she didn't see that as calling on him to step down.
She also revisited the Facebook comment controversy, saying she wanted to "set the record straight."
"The media quickly ran with a false narrative that I was being insensitive to Senator McCain at a time when he found himself in dire straights. To be clear, my comments were in no way directed at Senator McCain or his family or his team. My comments were in reference to the media, and a lot of you know I’ve been kinda critical of the media – not quite as critical as the president has been but I’ve been critical of you as well – and that the media sometimes might hope for a narrative that might hinder the momentum of our campaign. And that momentum is huge," she said.
"Our differences were purely political… the media they tried to make them out as personal," she said of she and McCain.
At one point, someone asked if she were to win Flake's Senate seat, and if Senator Chuck Schumer's proposal to rename the Senate building after McCain passes, then she could be working in a building named after McCain. In response, she seemed to shrug.
"I mean you know that’s going to be up to whoever’s there and we’ll see what happens. You know I have to fly out of the McCain terminal sometimes here so..." she said, referencing one of the Phoenix airport terminals named after him.