Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward said in a Facebook post Saturday that Senator John McCain’s family released a statement about his declining health to draw attention from the start of her campaign, according to The Hill.
The Republican senate hopeful shared the accusation in response to a post by a member of her campaign staff who suggested that “it was a plan to take media attention off her campaign.” Ward is currently seeking a spot on the ballot as the Republican candidate for a seat on Arizona’s senate.
“I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me,” said Ward’s comment.
Many are up in arms about Ward’s comment, decrying it as having been in poor taste. One of her opponents in the senate race, U.S. Rep Martha McSally, decried Ward’s comment as “classless” and “not decent.” Polls show that Rep. McSally holds a slight lead over Ward in the primary.
Local Phoenix news anchor Brahm Resnik shared a screenshot of the comment thread. He called attention to Ward’s remarks, asking, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” in a Twitter post.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?@kelliwardaz staffer: I wonder if John McCain's trying to steal attention from Ward's bus tour by announcing his life is coming to an end.
Ward: Yup, it's all about me. #AZSEN pic.twitter.com/AXKAOhKYkU
— BrahmResnik (@brahmresnik) August 25, 2018
Shortly after Ward’s comment began circulating, she posted a follow-up response, which has since been deleted.
“The media loves a narrative. I’ve said again and again to pray for Senator McCain & his family. These decisions are terrible to have to make. I feel compassion for him and his family as they go through this. It’s not the McCains creating a narrative – it’s the media making something out of nothing. The media, the left, and the Establishment have the agenda. They’ve been attacking me over fake stories for a year on this issue. I ran against Mr. McCain. I don’t agree with his voting record and rhetoric. I pray for him as a man who is suffering.”
Later on Saturday evening, Ward released a statement on Twitter expressing her sadness at McCain’s passing, wishing “comfort and peace” to his family.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of @SenJohnMcCain. His decades of service will not be forgotten by the men & women of Arizona. May God grant the McCain family comfort and peace during this difficult time.
— Dr. Kelli Ward (@kelliwardaz) August 26, 2018
This is not the first time Ward has come under fire for her remarks about Senator McCain’s health. In 2016, while running against the then-80-year old, she remarked that it was likely McCain would die in office if elected to a sixth term as an Arizona senator, according to Politico.
Senator McCain died Saturday afternoon. His passing comes one day after his family announced that the senator would no longer seek medical treatment for his brain cancer due to “the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age.”