Martha McSally accuses Kyrsten Sinema of saying “it’s OK to commit treason" in Arizona Senate debate

The race is tight: the GOP's McSally has a lead of just 0.03 percent in the current Real Clear Politics average

By Clarrie Feinstein

Published October 17, 2018 12:00AM (EDT)

Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema during their televised debate Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP/Matt York)
Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema during their televised debate Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP/Matt York)

In the first and only scheduled Senate debate in Arizona Monday night, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R) accused her Democratic colleague Kyrsten Sinema of “treason” for her past as an anti-war activist, which has surfaced as an issue at the front and center of the tightly-locked midterm race.

McSally, who is a combat veteran that served on the U.S. Air Force for more than two decades, demanded that Simena apologize for 2003 comments recirculated by CNN's KFile last week. When a radio host posed a hypothetical question about going to fight in the Taliban army to Sinema, she responded, "Fine. I don't care if you want to do that. Go ahead."

Simena did not directly reply to McSally’s allegation in the debate, instead accusing her opponent's campaign of leveraging “ridiculous attacks” in an attempt to “smear” her own, according to Politico. However, Republicans are campaigning against Simena's progressive activism – she has publicly opposed the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sinema launched onto the activist scene after the election of former President George W. Bush, organizing 15 antiwar rallies at Arizona State University when she was studying law "by the start of the Iraq War," according to CNN. KFile elaborated:

Sinema would later boast on a progressive message board in 2006 of her opposition to Afghanistan from the start and continued opposition, saying she opposed war in all forms.

Her biggest anti-war event was a February 15, 2003, protest in Patriot's Square Park in Phoenix. Flyers, as first reported by CNN's KFile, distributed by an anti-war group led by Sinema depicted a U.S. soldier as a menacing skeleton inflicting "U.S. terror" in Iraq and the Middle East.

"While we were in harm's way, she was protesting our troops in a pink tutu," McSally said of Sinema during the debate.

But, Democratic U.S. Rep Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran who is currently serving in Arizona's 7th Congressional District, did not share McSally’s perspective. "It was not treasonous to be against the Iraq War. I wish more politicians had listened to people like Kyrsten," the congressman tweeted. "We would have avoided needless deaths and the ensuing chaos that came."

Whichever woman emerges victorious on Election Day will replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake – a conservative who has been outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. When Flake announced his retirement, McSally, who was favored by her party's establishment wing, had to survive a fiery primary that also featured two marquee firebrands: former state Rep. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – a convicted felon pardoned by Trump.

And the general election race could not be any tighter. McSally has a lead of just 0.03 percent in the current Real Clear Politics average, with both candidates essentially tied with 45 percent support of likely Arizona voters.

Clarrie Feinstein

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2018 Midterm Election All Salon Arizona Politics Kyrsten Sinema Martha Mcsally News & Politics