Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward appeared to taunt Sen. John McCain in a tweet just two days after the longtime senator died of glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
“Political correctness is like a cancer!” Ward, a former state senator who is locked in Arizona’s heated GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, tweeted Monday.
The Arizona Senate primary is Tuesday.
Political correctness is like a cancer!
— Dr. Kelli Ward (@kelliwardaz) August 27, 2018
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and senator since 1987, died Saturday after a 13-month battle with the illness.
His family announced on Friday he would discontinue his medical treatment, saying “the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict.”
Ward drew criticism for speculating that McCain timed that release to redirect media attention away from her campaign, which had kicked off its bus tour that same day.
One of her staffers posted on Facebook that McCain’s family made the announcement to slight Ward. Then, Ward replied.
“I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me,” Ward wrote.
Asked to respond to criticism that suggested Ward’s tweet was taunting McCain’s affliction, her campaign’s press secretary, Zachery Henry, doubled down.
“Dr. Ward feels strongly that political correctness is used as a tool by the Establishment and the media to silence conservatives,” he said in a statement. “Silencing opposing voices eventually kills those voices and their messages. So yes, political correctness is like a cancer.”
Ward unsuccessfully challenged McCain in 2016, losing by 13 points, but capturing 39 percent of the vote.
She is locked in a three-way GOP primary battle with Rep. Martha McSally and Joe Arpaio, the former Phoenix-area sheriff who received a pardon from President Donald Trump after his conviction for contempt of court.
Whoever emerges from the GOP maelstrom Tuesday will have their work cut out for them leading up to the general election in November.
Trump won the state by 4 points in 2016, but Democrats have outperformed their 2016 results in multiple special elections since then.