Trump advisers warn McSally is in troubleMay 21, 2020
Senior political advisers to President Donald Trump warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday that Republican Sen. Martha McSally is falling dangerously behind in the critical swing state of Arizona.
Trump’s campaign team was meeting with the president at the White House to discuss the state of play in a handful of battleground states. Toward the end of the meeting, Trump pulled McConnell, who was at the White House to meet with him on another matter, into the Roosevelt Room. The discussion turned to Arizona, where recent polling has shown Trump and McSally trailing.
Trump himself said he was concerned about McSally, according to three people familiar with the discussion. His political advisers told McConnell about recent survey numbers in Arizona and stressed she was losing to Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly.
McConnell appeared to stand by the senator, noting that it’s only May and the election is still a ways off, people familiar with the meeting said.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment, as did a Trump reelection spokesperson.
A McConnell spokesman said, “Leader McConnell is fully supportive of Senator McSally and believes she’s on a path to victory in November.”
Trump's own standing in the state was also a subject of the conversation.
The discussion comes amid increasing Republican worries about Arizona. An array of recent polls have shown Trump losing to Joe Biden in the state, which Democrats have not won in a presidential election since 1996. Democrats have signaled they intend to make an aggressive play in Arizona.
The Senate race is a particular trouble spot. As Senate Republicans try to protect their majority, McSally has emerged as one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents. One survey released this week showed McSally trailing Kelly by 13 points.
“It’s a fact that Arizona is a battleground state for both the presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns,” said McSally campaign manager Dylan Lefler. "We are confident that the Republican Party is fully invested in keeping Arizona red in November because control of the White House and the Senate depends on it."
After Trump won Arizona by fewer than 4 percentage points in 2016, Republicans in the state say the president will need to take it seriously this year. They note the state has grown more liberal in recent years, with four statewide offices flipping to Democrats in 2018. That year, McSally lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. She was later appointed to the seat of the late John McCain.
Trump advisers project confidence about the president’s prospects in the battleground state. Advisers noted during Thursday’s meeting that while McSally lost in 2018, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey won reelection.