Tempe, AZ – During an on-the-record, closed-door interview with the Arizona Republic’s editorial board in late July, Rep. Martha McSally delivered a shocking response to a question posed by Arizona Republic’s Opinion Editor Joanna Allhands, who asked McSally when did she first start supporting building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Listen to the audio here.
The extraordinary exchange begins with Allhands saying she couldn’t “recall hearing” McSally call for a border wall back when she was working on a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In response to Allhand’s question, McSally offers a meandering reply, in which she repeats that she’s been “leading on border security” six times in a 42-second span.
“Were you saying at that time we needed a border wall?” asks Allhands.
“I’ve been leading on border security! Go back and look at all my hearings since I was given the border security gavel, uh, as a freshman, uh, I’ve been leading on this issue – I’ve been leading on how important it is that we have barriers, that we have agents, that we have intelligence-driven operations, that we increase situational awareness and operational control. I’ve had a field hearing here in Arizona about it. I mean, I brought a congressional delegation three weeks into my term – the largest ever to the border. I know maybe because you guys weren’t paying attention because I was in southern Arizona, I’ve been consistently leading on border security. They don’t give you a subcommittee chair on such an important mission unless you’re leading on the issue. And so, I’ve been leading on it since I’ve been there, I’ve been consistent about it, and I’ve been in the arena fighting to make it happen,” says McSally.
Not satisfied with the response, Allhands presses a second time to get a clear answer out of the Tucson congresswoman.
“That’s border security, but not ‘the Wall’ – I don’t remember hearing [inaudible],” inserts Allhands.
Dr. Kelli Ward, who also was present in the room interjects saying, “Ask Lou Dobbs about that” – an aside in reference to an interview McSally had with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs back on April 4, in which McSally appeared flustered when Dobbs asked her why she supported and voted for a $1.3 trillion omnibus bill that failed to appropriate funding for President Trump’s border wall.
It’s at this point in the interview that McSally replies: “Sure, look, look, the border wall, I, President Trump says the same thing, Secretary Nielsen says the same thing, the border patrol says the same thing – I don’t know why you guys get so caught up on the word ‘wall’.”
This comment is the latest in a string of disappointing remarks made by Rep. McSally, who has claimed to be supportive of a border wall while on the campaign trail but has espoused a different view in private.
For instance, The Hill, in a January 2017 interview with McSally, reported that the congresswoman “displayed a lack of enthusiasm” and “expressed skepticism about how effective the wall would be at stopping the flow of people coming to the U.S. illegally.” And later, in April 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that McSally claimed walls do little to stop criminal organizations from getting across the border, saying illegal border crossers “will go over, through or under physical barriers, sometimes pretty quickly.”
“No matter how you slice it, McSally has shown that she has conflicting views on President Trump’s border wall,” said Ward campaign strategist Eric Beach. “Arizonans need a Senator they can trust – one who doesn’t say one thing in public, and then something different in private. Arizona voters have a clear choice between Dr. Kelli Ward, an honest, thoughtful conservative leader who is a true believer in the America First agenda; or Martha McSally, someone hand-picked by Mitch McConnell and who only shows her real colors when the cameras are turned off.”
Dr. Kelli Ward is the leading GOP candidate to replace retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in the U.S. Senate in 2018. On Aug. 17, President Trump encouraged Ward’s campaign via Twitter. Ward has received endorsements from several national conservative leaders including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Rep. Steve King, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Dr. Sebastian Gorka. Ward’s campaign has an unmatched grassroots network across Arizona and has continued to grow and expand national and in-state support.