Arizona Republican Senate candidate Rep. Martha McSally exclusively told "Fox News Sunday" that rival Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is "disqualified" to be a U.S. senator because of her 2003 comments on a Phoenix radio show that McSally characterized as supportive of the Taliban, as well as her antiwar protesting in a "pink tutu."
During that radio show, the host had provided a hypothetical to Sinema: “As an individual, if I want to go fight in the Taliban army, I go over there and I’m fighting for the Taliban -- I’m saying that’s a personal decision." Sinema responded: “Fine. I don’t care if you want to do that, go ahead.”
In a fiery moment at a debate Monday, McSally said Sinema's comments amounted to "treason" and demanded an apology from Sinema. “Martha has chosen to run a campaign like the one you’re seeing right now where she’s engaging in ridiculous attacks and smearing my campaign,” Sinema fired back, saying McSally was not showing "the full picture."
Speaking to host Chris Wallace, McSally on Sunday hammered Sinema for failing to apologize for her comments.
"It's her words, it's totally out of step with American values, when she clearly says in this radio interview, she has no problem with an American going to join the Taliban," McSally said.
McSally, who served in the Air Force from 1988 to 2010, including flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II and becoming the first female commander of an Air Force fighter squadron, added that the issue was personal.
"This is personal for those of us who served and actually fought against the Taliban," McSally continued. "I was a squadron commander over there, with my A-10 squadron. We were getting shot at by the Taliban; the Taliban was killing Americans. The worst days we had at Bagram Air Force base when I was a commander was when an American gave their last breath fighting for our freedoms ... and was killed by someone from the Taliban.
"We would stop everything we were doing; we would line up along the ramp, as their flag-draped casket came by, and we would each then salute in silence -- you could hear a pin drop -- as we said goodbye to this American hero who was killed by the Taliban."
"This is personal for those of us who served and actually fought against the Taliban."
Sinema has defended her comments, saying they have been misinterpreted. But McSally said they were part of a larger picture.
"This is a pattern for my opponent -- right after 9/11, in a moment when the country was unified and were healing and mourning ... Krysten Sinema was protesting any military action against terrorists; she was protesting later in a pink tutu; she was leading multiple protests inviting anarchists, socialists, others -- handing out flyers at her protest depicting American soldiers as skeletons, and saying we're the ones conducting terror in the Middle East. This is just a pattern of my opponent over many years where she has been a radical left activist, a green party activist, very much against our military, and these are the facts that need to come out during this campaign -- compared to me, who served 26 years in the military, 325 combat hours fighting for our freedoms."
Sinema has come under fire in recent days as a series of videos have been unearthed in which she speaks dismissively of some stay-at-home moms, whom she called "leeches," and even criticizes her own state as the "meth lab of democracy."
Wallace, who noted that Sinema had declined to appear on "Fox News Sunday," asked McSally about her vote to repeal-and-replace ObamaCare, and specifically her view on protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.
McSally said she is "passionate" about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and said ObamaCare "right now is not covering" them.
"What we were trying to do is not have the federal government, one-size-fits-all top-down approach while protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and allowing state flexibility," McSally said. "And then I advocated -- we have a $100 billion stability fund, I advocated for another $15 billion specifically for maternity and mental health, and another $8 billion specifically to make sure that states are covering and supporting people with pre-existing conditions. Again, this is a complex issue ... but we're trying to move away from the failures of ObamaCare."
Separately, McSally, who previously supported a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, echoed President Trump's comments at a Nevada rally on Saturday, in which he warned about "bad" and "tough" people approaching the U.S. in a migrant Central American caravan. Trump has threatened to send the U.S. military -- not the National Guard -- to protect the border in response.
"I represent a southern border district 80 miles of the border; I chair the border security subcommittee, and we’ve got fifth generation ranchers down there on the border right now, dealing with the cartel activity continuing to traffic opioids and other drugs and human trafficking into our communities -- this is a public safety and national security issue," McSally said.
Fox News currently rates the Arizona race a toss-up. President Trump carried the state by five percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.