Senator John McCain’s primary opponent has trotted out an attack that should be familiar from the ’08 presidential campaign, namely that he’ll likely die during his next term.
“I’m a doctor. The life expectancy of the American male is not 86. It’s less,” Republican Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward told Politico Thursday. The McCain/Ward primary is slated for Tuesday.
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Ward’s comments are not unlike the Walter Mondale campaign’s attempts in the ’80s to prevent Ronald Reagan’s reelection by focusing voters on his age. Reagan was the oldest president to hold the office.
McCain responded to Ward’s agist slight by telling reporters that Ward’s methods are a “race to the bottom,” and adding that he didn’t like attacks on his age. McCain then compared Ward’s tactics to his own behavior during his run against then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.
“People are stunned that I said to the woman that Barack Obama is an honorable man in 2008. That was sort of the standard way you conducted yourself,” McCain said, adding that Ward “issued a press release saying that I was a sexist or some damn thing” last week.
Ward further attempted to insert her identity as a doctor into her attacks, saying that in her profession, “when tired eyes look at problems, you have bad outcomes for the patient and the provider.”
“There are things that happen physiologically with the body and the mind. One of them is control over your anger and he’s already known as an angry man,” Ward told Politico. “It becomes more and more difficult to control those kinds of outbursts. And we have to have someone with a steady hand, someone with the ability to think on their feet. Someone who can problem-solve.”
Ward asserted that McCain is the candidate that is dragging down the level of political discourse in the Senate race. Arizona Grassroots Action dubbed the state lawmaker, “Street Corner Kelli” in an ad, and a McCain web ad called her “Chemtrail Killi” due to her open stance on investigating the idea that the government sprays citizens from airplanes.
“He and his people have said I’m too conservative, I’m too liberal, I’m a racist, I’m a bigot. And even equating me to a prostitute, saying I’m ‘Street Corner Kelli.’ If that’s not scraping the bottom of the barrel, I don’t know what is,” Ward continued. “Pointing out a simple, biological, physiological fact that he’s turning 80 on Monday, that is 100 percent complete truth and the people deserve to know.”
Should McCain win the primary, he will run against Democratic challenger Ann Kirkpatrick who is 66. Kirkpatrick told reporters that she is unlikely to criticize the Republican Senator for his age.
Primary polls are uncertain about the outcome next Tuesday. A Gravis poll conducted last week surveyed 844 Republicans, and Ward overtook the incumbent with 45 percent against McCain’s 36 percent. Another poll conducted by Data Orbital LLC. revealed Aug. 13 that McCain led Ward 50 percent to 29 percent.
Both candidates are likely to defeat the unpopular Democratic challenger. McCain’s Real Clear Average is 8 points ahead at 44.7 to 36.7 percent. The Gravis poll shows that Ward could also beat Kirkpatrick, but at a slimmer 43 to 38 percent margin.