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McSally attacks Sinema for 'treason' in contentious Arizona Senate debate

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© Matt York/AP Photo Republican Rep. Martha McSally, left, and Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema sparred over immigration, health care, the GOP tax law and the Supreme Court.

By James Arkin, POLITICO

Republican Martha McSally accused Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of “treason” Monday night, latching onto recent reports about Sinema’s comments as an anti-war activist at the end of a contentious, fiery Arizona Senate debate.

Near the end of the hour-long debate, McSally attacked Sinema over the comments from a radio show in 2003, reported earlier this week by CNN. The host made a hypothetical comment about joining the Taliban, to which Sinema responded: "I don't care if you want to do that, go ahead."

McSally demanded an apology, accusing her fellow congresswoman of saying “it’s okay to commit treason.” Sinema didn’t respond to the attack or explain her past comments, instead accusing McSally of running a negative campaign by using “ridiculous attacks, and trying to smear my campaign.”

The exchange in Monday’s debate, the only one scheduled in Arizona, epitomized the campaign to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. McSally repeatedly accused Sinema and Democrats of lying about her positions, while Sinema attacked McSally as overly partisan and unwilling to cooperate across the aisle.

The candidates sparred over immigration, health care, the Republican tax law and the Supreme Court, among other issues, diverging sharply on nearly every topic.

On Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, McSally said she would have voted yes while Sinema said she would have voted no, adding that she thought Kavanaugh was overly partisan and may have lied under oath during his testimony responding to allegations of sexual assault against him.

McSally praised President Trump — who is rallying for her in Arizona Friday — at the outset of the debate, praising him as a “disruptor” but said she was “proud that he has gone to the White House and he is leading our country in the right direction.” When Sinema said McSally voted with Trump 98 percent of the time, McSally touted the Republican Party agenda, highlighting her vote for the tax cuts.

Sinema touted her willingness to work across the aisle, but also named several areas where she disagreed with the president, including tariffs and the administration’s previous policy of family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I believe it’s our duty to stand up against the president when he’s doing something wrong, but join with him when he’s doing something right, like working for veterans,” Sinema said.

Sinema closed by touting herself as the "third-most independent" member of Congress, and said she would work across the aisle to get things done.

The debate also grew contentious over health care, which Sinema has made a central issue in her campaign. Sinema accused McSally of voting to get rid of protections for people with pre-existing conditions by supporting the Republicans’ Obamacare repeal and replace legislation last year. McSally called the accusation a “flat out lie” and said she supports protections for pre-existing conditions, but said the Affordable Care Act has “failed.”

And McSally also attacked Sinema over border security, saying the Democrat had “very dangerous” positions on immigration and criticizing her for voting against two Trump-backed immigration measures that failed the House earlier this year. McSally, who chairs a border security subcommittee, has used that issue as one of her central campaign themes. Asked about Trump’s proposed border wall, Sinema said it could be part of a solution, but was not sufficient. Sinema said she had “bucked my party” to support increased funding for border patrol and immigration enforcement in the past.

Near the end of the debate, McSally — an Air Force veteran — attacked Sinema for her past as an anti-war protester, which McSally has made a central contrast in the campaign.

"While we were in harms way, she was protesting our troops in a pink tutu," McSally said. In her closing statement, she called herself as a "fighter" and touted her record of service.

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Politics - U.S. Daily News: McSally attacks Sinema for 'treason' in contentious Arizona Senate debate
McSally attacks Sinema for 'treason' in contentious Arizona Senate debate
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