The Republican Party of Arizona is facing national criticism after making a vow to stop Mark Kelly, husband of shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, “dead in his tracks.”
The wording was used in a fundraising email sent this week by Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, who accused Kelly of trying to take guns away from people. As NBC News noted, Kelly has been pushing for gun reform since his wife, who was then a U.S. congresswoman, was shot in the head during a 2011 mass shooting attack in Tuscon that left six people dead. Giffords was the target of the shooting, which was described as an assassination attempt that claimed the lives of a federal judge and many others at a campaign event.
In the email this week, Ward used what many called incendiary language toward Giffords’ husband.
“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks,” Ward wrote of Kelly, the former astronaut now running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona.
Kelly is taking on Martha McSally, who was appointed to the Senate seat left vacant after the death of longtime Senator John McCain. NBC News noted that McSally is seen as vulnerable, and prior to being appointed to the seat had lost another Senate race to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.
Ward has come under criticism for her choice of wording in the fundraising email, with those in Kelly’s campaign calling it inappropriate.
“This dangerous rhetoric has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” said Jacob Peters, a Kelly spokesman, via the Associated Press. “Mark Kelly is running for Senate to overcome this type of nasty divisiveness that does nothing for Arizonans.”
Utterly ridiculous! I don’t wish harm on Mr. Kelly. We disagree politically on the Constitution and the #2a, and I’m well aware of the harm his policies would cause should he ever be elected. Dishonest stories like this are dangerous and irresponsible! https://t.co/8wfU8QQtSO— Dr. Kelli Ward ???????? (@kelliwardaz) September 6, 2019
But Ward defended the email, instead attacking journalists for covering the controversy. She took to Twitter to slam Bloomberg, calling the outlet’s story on the matter “dishonest,” as well as “dangerous and irresponsible.”
As the Associated Press noted, Ward has often courted controversy herself, including her inflammatory rhetoric during two failed campaigns for the U.S. Senate. She has even sparked controversy within the Republican Party, with a group backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell running a political ad slamming Ward when she tried to unseat Senator Jeff Flake in a Republican primary.
As the Washington Examiner noted, the ad slammed Ward for “crazy ideas” and “embarrassing behavior” while she was a state senator, including spreading the conspiracy theory that airplanes are spreading a mind control chemical in what is known as “chemtrails.”