During a private talk to the Arizona Bankers Association last week, Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) acknowledged that the ongoing circus created President Donald Trump and his administration — in particular, the president’s reckless tweets — is damaging her reelection prospects.
According to Tucson Weekly, which obtained a recording of McSally’s remarks thanks to a source in the room, the second-term congresswoman “complained that President Donald Trump and his tweets were creating troubling ‘distractions’ and ‘it’s basically being taken out on me. Any Republican member of Congress, you are going down with the ship.’”
“The environment has changed and some of it changed on January 20,” McSally continued, according to Tuscon Weekly. “There’s just an element out there that’s just, like, so against the president. Like they just can’t see straight. And all of a sudden on January 20, I’m like his twin sister to them. And I’m, like, responsible for everything he does, and tweets and says. And they want me to be spending my time as a pundit. ‘I disagree with that. I agree with this.’ I have a job in the legislature!”
McSally defeated her Democratic challenger by 18 points last year, but last month, PPP released a poll showing her trailing a generic “Democratic opponent” 50–43. As of Thursday, FiveThirtyEight’s nationwide generic ballot poll shows Democrats leading Republicans 47–39, significantly ahead of the 45–44 margin on the eve of last year’s election.
Part of this is undoubtedly due to Trump, whose approval rating dipped to a new low of 34 percent on the same day former FBI Director James Comey testified about his efforts to interfere in an active investigation of one of his aides.
But McSally should look in the mirror as well. She’s voted in total lockstep with Trump’s positions. During a closed-door meeting with her House Republican colleagues ahead of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last month — a bill that has an approval rating of roughly 21 percent — she reportedly exhorted them by saying, “Let’s get this fucking thing done!”
McSally’s not-meant-for-public-consumption criticism of Trump is notable for how it differs from what Republicans continue to say about the president in public. There are indications, however, that her sentiments are shared by some of her colleagues in private. Publicly, Republican members of Congress mostly defended Trump and ran interference for him during and after the Comey hearing, but privately, Politico reported that a number of them “were absolutely shocked at how poorly yesterday went for the president.”