Less than a week ago, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., delivered her now-famous "You're a liberal hack, Buddy" dismissal of CNN correspondent Manu Raju.
Now, pundits and pols throughout her state of Arizona are concluding the withering comment to Raju is part of a strategy by the former congresswoman and appointed senator to shore up needed support on the right for her re-election.
In so doing, several told Newsmax, she has completed her break with her onetime mentor and predecessor, the late Sen. John McCain.
"When she ran against [Democratic Rep.] Kirsten Sinema [for the state's other Senate seat in 2018), a lot of conservatives did not vote for her — left the ballot blank, because she was a McCain protégé," former State GOP Chairman and stalwart conservative Randy Pullen told Newsmax. "This could change in '20."
McSally lost a tight race to Sinema and then was appointed to fill the vacancy in the Senate created by McCain's death in '19. The '20 race between McSally and Democrat Mark Kelly is for the remaining two years of McCain's term.
Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., leads McSally 47%-44% among likely voters statewide. Kelly, whose wife was seriously wounded in a 2011 Tucson shooting and later resigned from Congress, has widespread funding from gun-control advocates nationwide.
To overcome Kelly, McSally is clearly shoring up support on the right that abandoned her in '18 with her strike against the liberal media. Within a day of her brushoff of Raju, the senator's campaign website was selling (at $35 each) T-shirts bearing the legend: "You're A Liberal Hack, Buddy."
The same day of her exchange, McSally sent out electronic fundraising solicitations featuring a film by the senator in which she proudly recalled how "I called out one of those liberal hacks from CNN" and asks for funds to help Republicans keep their majority in the Senate.
McSally's new strategy of "beat the press" is likely to help her among the conservatives who abandoned her in 2018. In the process, she has most likely cut her ties with Sen. McCain's family. As the McSally salvo against Raju took off, CNN's Jake Tapper revealed he had texted a member of the McCain family to find out what they thought of the Republicans who now holds their man's old seat.
A family member replied, Tapper said on the air, "there's no love lost between our family and her."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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