The Republican Party of Arizona publicly excoriated Democratic opposition Thursday for recent attempts to pilot what it referred to as a “new ‘life and death’ fearmongering tactic to scare voters.”
The GOP response came following of a months-long effort by 2020 Democratic primary candidates for Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District seat, currently held by Republican Rep. David Schweikert, to tar Republican legislators and leaders on social media as malicious in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most recent Democratic campaign attack came from Stephanie Rimmer, a Scottsdale-based small business woman turned House hopeful, who responded in apparent disbelief Monday when NBC News campaign reporter Vaughn Hillyard captured several prominent Arizona Republicans engaging in “cooler weather weekend activities at the Mohave County Republican Picnic this weekend.”
Photographs taken at the event showed Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, Sen. Martha McSally and Rep. Paul Gosar had failed to observe some coronavirus-related public health guidelines, spending time together in close proximity. Gosar and Ward were not wearing masks in the photos.
“Nothing,” Rimmer said. “I can think of nothing to say. Literally, I have no words.”
Rimmer then went on to engage with a displeased user who suggested nationwide Republican response to the COVID-19 pandemic could be summarized as an intentional attempt to induce increased suffering and death.
“The end goal is political power. It’s power over the people not power of the people. Makes me sick. It’s why I’m running Congress. Both parties do things I cannot respect in the pursuit of power. Thank God my party doesn’t kill people. But we need to refocus, and restructure,” the candidate said.
Rimmer was far from the first Democratic candidate to make such an assertion, with rhetoric from numerous other political figures on the national stage and within the candidate’s own primary contest painting Republican pandemic response as the primary cause of substantial stateside spread, and the resulting deaths.
Anita Malik, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District seat, became the first figure in the race to employ the strategy, using the outbreak to suggest in April that the 2020 presidential election should be conducted exclusively by mail-in voting.
“For the #GOP it is all about politics. They are admittedly against our health, our lives,” Malik said. “Anything to win. Use your voice. Help us demand what is right, all mail elections.”
The following month, fellow Democratic challenger Hiral Tipirneni, a former emergency room physician, made similar remarks on social media.
“This is what an absence of leadership looks like,” Tipirneni said, referring to the running coronavirus case total and death toll at the time. “Vote like your life depends on it. It does.”
The Arizona GOP’s Thursday response was reinforced with a scathing rebuke from Ward, who attacked attempts to “score cheap political points” on the back of international tragedy a “new low” for the Democratic Party.
Do you agree with Ward?
“President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force have led an unprecedented, comprehensive, and aggressive whole of America approach to defeat COVID-19,” Ward said in a statement to The Western Journal. “Thanks to the President’s early and strong leadership, travel was banned from China and Europe, which bought the United States critical time to respond to the plague.
“Yet, even as the coronavirus mortality rate is falling, Democrats are also sinking to new lows,” Ward said.
“Using the heartbreaking deaths of fellow Americans to score cheap political points ahead of an election is abhorrent and should be roundly rebuked by all.”
Vice President Mike Pence voiced a similar opinion earlier this month, telling The Western Journal that the virus should not be viewed through a political lens at all.
“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the coronavirus relative to politics,” Pence said at a news conference. “I think about it relative to people.
“President Trump, before the end of January, suspended all travel from China and set up the White House Coronavirus Task Force … we marshaled not only the full resources of the federal government, but the full resources of the American economy to scale testing at an unprecedented level,” the vice president said.
“I think the American people understand this is an unprecedented moment, but President Trump has brought unprecedented leadership and we’ve spared no expense. We’ve pulled together all the resources of this nation, and we’re going to continue to do that every single day until that day comes that we put the coronavirus in the past.”
John Hopkins data indicated more than 4 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 143,000 have died as a result of the virus.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, however, death rates continue to fall within the United States, despite mid-summer transmission spikes in many states.
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