Politics

Trump Ties Sinema to Schumer Even Though She Says She Won’t Support Him

Sinema and McSally face off in Toss-up Arizona Senate race for Flake’s seat

President Donald Trump arrives with Arizona Republican Senate nominee Martha McSally for a rally in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, rallying in Arizona on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally, sought to tie her Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema, to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer even though Sinema said she won’t support him.

A vote for Sinema is “dangerous” because “it’s for Schumer, crying Chuck,” Trump told rallygoers Friday night at an airport hangar in Mesa. 

Sinema, however, has said she would not vote for Schumer to remain the Democratic leader if elected to the Senate. 

The Arizona Senate seat, left open by the retirement of GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, is a rare Democratic pickup opportunity in a cycle in which they’re mostly on defense. Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Arizona in 30 years, and they’d have to end that drought to have any realistic shot of winning back the chamber this year.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race between McSally and Sinema a Toss-up

Watch: Fiery Arizona Debate in 4 Minutes

‘High stakes’

Trump on Friday also referred to Sinema as “a far-left extremist,” contrary to her voting record in the House. 

The three-term congresswoman, who represents the Phoenix-area 9th District, has aligned with more centrist Democrats as a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and the pro-business New Democrat Coalition. She presents herself as someone who can work across the aisle and stand up to party leaders.

“This approach works to just be an independent voice. Don’t follow what the party leaders are saying. Get beyond the Washington dysfunction and just work together to deliver results for our state,” Sinema said on a press call earlier Friday that featured endorsements from a handful of Arizona Republicans.

Trump invited McSally onstage to speak during the rally, and she also criticized her opponent, repeating some of her familiar attack lines

McSally, who’s in her second term representing the Tucson-area 2nd District, pointed out that she voted for the Republican tax overhaul while Sinema opposed it. She said she would’ve voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh had she been in the Senate already, while Sinema would’ve voted against him. 

“There is so much more to do, and there are so high stakes in this election,” the GOP nominee said. “And we are down to the wire to make sure we keep and grow the Senate majority.”

McSally and Trump also both seized on a gaffe Sinema made in a 2003 radio interview before a rally opposing the Iraq War. The show’s host spoke of a hypothetical scenario of him fighting for the Taliban.

“Fine,” Sinema said at the time, “I don’t care if you want to do that, go ahead.”

A Sinema spokeswoman told CNN, which first resurfaced the 2003 remark, that her comment was “clearly offhand and an effort to get back on the topic of why she opposed the war.”

McSally, however, has repeatedly attacked Sinema for the comment, using it to contrast with her personal experience as the Air Force’s first female combat pilot. 

“I was shooting at the Taliban, and Sinema said it was OK for an American to join the Taliban,” she said at the rally.

Trump also provided shout-outs to Phoenix-area GOP Reps. Debbie Lesko, Andy Biggs and David Schweikert, all members of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

Inside Elections rates Biggs and Schweikert’s races Solid Republican, while Lesko, who is seeking her first full term after winning an April special election, is in a Likely Republican contest. 

‘Strange opponent’

Earlier in Scottsdale, Trump, while not naming Sinema, said McSally “has a very, very strange opponent.” McSally had to remind him that the visit to the Air Force base and defense roundtable they were conducting was official business, not a campaign event.

However, Trump did recognize Arizona Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran’s presence at the roundtable, saying, “You can join us, even though you’re a Democrat.”

Later at the Mesa rally, Trump was not as kind to Democrats, emphasizing to the crowd the importance of voting for Republicans.

“The Democrats have become an angry, unhinged mob determined to get power by any means necessary,” he said, doubling down on a familiar line of attack a day after he praised GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte at a Montana rally for assaulting a reporter last year. 

“Democrats produce mobs. Republicans produce jobs,” Trump said at the Arizona rally. “Vote for the jobs, not for the mobs. Just do it.”

Trump also returned to another common theme at his rallies: immigration and border security.

“Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to deadly drugs and ruthless gangs,” he said, noting it was “smart” of the party to do so since most of the immigrants coming to the U.S. would vote for them. 

“You’ve got some bad people in these groups,” he said. “And I’ll tell you what: This country doesn’t want them. We don’t want them.”

‘Don’t be a baby’

Earlier at the defense roundtable, Trump made a similar characterization when speaking about a group of migrants traveling in a mass caravan through Central America. When a reporter asked him what evidence he had for calling them “hardened criminals,” he criticized her for the question.

“Don’t be a baby,” Trump said. 

Before the roundtable, Trump attended a fundraiser in Scottsdale that raised $700,000 for the Win Arizona Fund, a joint fundraising committee benefiting McSally’s campaign, the Arizona Republican Party and the National Republican Senate Committee, a person familiar with the event told the press pool traveling with the president.

While Trump campaigned with McSally, Sinema was keeping busy 

“We’re kicking off a huge weekend of action across the entire state,” she said on the press call Friday. 

She also noted that since Trump became president, she has been able to get five veterans bills to his desk that she’s either sponsored or co-sponsored. 

“And he’s signed every single one of them,” she said.

The Republicans on the call supporting Sinema said undecided voters they’ve talked to seem turned off by negative attacks McSally has deployed in the campaign, as well as her lack of depth on issues beyond ones that cater to the GOP base.

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