PHOENIX (AP) — Martha McSally wants Arizona to know she supports President Donald Trump.
The Republican congresswoman has voted with the Republican president nearly 97 percent of the time so far. She says that young immigrants shouldn’t be shielded from deportation unless Democrats agree to build Trump’s massive border wall. She doesn’t even mind if the tough-talking commander-in-chief described Haiti and other African nations with vulgar language earlier in the week.
“I speak a little salty behind closed doors at times as well, so I’m not going to throw the first stone on using any language,” said McSally, who wants to be Arizona’s next U.S. senator. She added, “You better believe I will keep working with President Trump.”
The enthusiastic allegiance marks a shift for McSally, who refused to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign and refuses even now to say whether she voted for him. But her party fight to maintain control of the Senate in 2018, the 51-year-old former fighter pilot is betting big that she needs Trump’s most passionate supporters on her side if she’s to keep outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat in Republican hands.
The seat is empty, in large part, because Flake could not — or would not — “be complicit or silent” about his deep concerns with the Trump presidency.
McSally, meanwhile, is embracing Trump and his political playbook — which emphasizes the dangers of illegal immigration and demands border security above all else — in a state where nearly 1 in 3 residents is Hispanic and roughly 1 million are eligible to vote, according to the Pew Research Center.
The success of her message will help determine whether it’s finally time for Republican candidates to heed party leaders who warned six years ago that candidates must soften their tone on immigration and do far more to connect with Hispanic voters and other minorities.
In announcing her candidacy on Friday, at least, McSally is showing no sign of moderating her tone.
“When facing vicious cartels…