Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), who is running to represent Arizona in the Senate, refused to address a past interview where she said she doesn’t “care” if Americans go overseas and fight for the Taliban.
Sinema dodged a question about her past comments while she participated in the only debate of a contentious race with her Republican opponent, Rep. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), the first woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron.
“I fought to make sure that the A-10 was preserved, that we fight for Luke Air Force Base. My opponent advocated to shut down Luke Air Force Base,” McSally said during the Monday night debate in Phoenix. “While we were in harm’s way, she was protesting our troops in a pink tutu.”
McSally then addressed a CNN report from last week, which highlighted various controversial statements from Sinema’s past as an anti-war activist. One such statement was from a 2003 radio interview, where she said it was “fine” for Americans to go and join the Taliban.
“I don’t care if you want to do that, go ahead,” she told the radio show host, local libertarian activist Ernest Hancock.
“CNN reported that in 2003 while she was on the radio, you said it was okay for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally said, prompting the moderator to say they were out of time. “You said you had no problem with that. Kyrsten, I want to ask you right now whether you are going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it’s okay to commit treason.”
“Please, we are running out of time, so we gotta get a response,” the moderator said.
“Well, we need a response because she owes us an apology,” McSally said.
Sinema dodged the question and attempted to shift the conversation to negative campaign tactics, saying McSally was “engaging in ridiculous attacks.”
“Martha has chosen to run a campaign like the one you are seeing right now, where she’s engaging in ridiculous attacks and smearing my campaign and she’s just trying to cut, cut, cut and not share the full picture,” Sinema said. “The truth is that I’ve always fought for Arizona and I have been proud to serve our state in elected office for over 13 years. Arizonans know me and they know my record.”
After Sinema’s full response, the moderator indicated it was time to conclude the debate with closing statements.
“It’s treason and she also called us ‘crazy’ here in Arizona,” said McSally, referring to a 2011 speech in Texas where Sinema said Arizonans were “crazy.”
“Over the past several years, people would watch what has happened to Arizona be like, ‘Damn, those people are crazy. Is it something about the water?’ No, the water is fine, we stole it from Colorado,” Sinema said at the event.
“When we grew up I remember in first grade we learned a song about Arizona,” she added. “Arizona is the state of the five C’s: cattle, copper, citrus, cotton, and climate. And those were the five things that our state historically made its money off of. But I would add a sixth C, it’s called ‘crazy.'”
McSally and Sinema are competing to fill the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), who announced last October that he wasn’t running for re-election.
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