Politics

Former McCain Aide, Gosar Trade Ugly Barbs Over Replacement Speculation

Arizona senator’s former chief of staff calls congressman a ‘dumbass,’ Gosar tells him to ‘piss off’

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., engaged in a Twitter battle with Sen. John McCain's former chief of staff over the weekend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mark Salter, Sen. John McCain’s co-author and former chief of staff, sparred on Twitter with GOP Rep. Paul Gosar over the weekend after Gosar called on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey not to appoint McCain’s wife Cindy to his Senate seat in the event it is vacated.

McCain, who is battling glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, has been home in Arizona for months but has not resigned.

Ducey has not said Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, would be his pick to replace him if the seat is vacated before his term ends in 2022, but a number of GOP operatives and pundits in Arizona have speculated that could be the case.

Salter, often described as McCain’s alter ego, took exception to Gosar even discussing the possibility of a vacant seat should McCain resign or die before his term concludes.

“Hey dumbass, the seat isn’t vacant,” Salter tweeted at Gosar Saturday. “Mind your own business and continue being the same useless do-nothing MC you've been from the start.”

Gosar, who has reportedly expressed interest in replacing McCain, had tweeted earlier that Cindy McCain was not the most qualified candidate and that Ducey was wrong for privately floating her name as a possibility to replace her husband.

“We want the most qualified for Senate. Cindy McCain is not. I reject leftist tactics of attacking the person and urge Ducey to stand down,” Gosar said on Twitter.

When Salter called Gosar a “dumbass,” the congressman lectured him against using “infantile name calling” and told him to “piss off.”

Salter got even more personal, slamming Gosar’s “lack of class and decency” in his politics, then saying even the congressman’s own family didn’t like him, alluding to a feud between Gosar and some of his brothers and sisters.

Gosar signed off with the hashtag #thisiswhywelost2008, referring to McCain’s unsuccessful presidential run. Salter got in one more dig before he left the conversation.

The episode revealed deep tensions within the Arizona Republican Party on how to proceed over McCain’s seat should the senator not be able to serve out his full term.

Ducey is not publicly entertaining any of the speculation surrounding McCain’s health and seat. Ducey has said McCain is “our senator until 2022.”

“This is a genuine American hero who is battling for his life, fighting a deadly disease. I, for one, think he has earned Arizona’s and America’s respect,” Ducey said of McCain in an interview with KTAR radio in Arizona last week.

“What he’s got from me is my support and my prayers. To me, there is no vacancy. He is our senator until 2022.”

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