Ward slams Flake likening Trump to Stalin in upcoming Senate speech
PHOENIX — U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Kelli Ward slammed the rumored plan of outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake to rip President Donald Trump in a speech this week that will compare him to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, though the senator said that was never the actual plan.
“It is unfortunate that the retiring senator from Arizona feels he must escalate his perpetual assault on President Trump’s character to such a dangerous and indecent level,” Ward said in a Tuesday statement.
“If Sen. Flake does follow through and deliver this shameful and offensive speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, it will be an utter embarrassment to Arizona and I will condemn it in the strongest possible terms. I call on all my fellow candidates running for his seat in Arizona to do the same.”
However, it appeared Ward’s statement could have been released in vain.
Flake said over the weekend his speech would not directly compare the president to a dictator responsible for the executions of thousands of his own people.
Instead, the senator said his planned address would liken Trump’s “Fake News Awards” and constant criticisms of the press to Stalin’s disdain for the media.
“I noted how bad it is for a president to take what was popularized by Joseph Stalin — ‘the enemy of the people’ to refer to the press — and today you have authoritarians across the world using the term ‘fake news’ to justify cracking down on their opposition or to staunch legitimate debate. That’s nothing we should be proud of,” he told “This Week ABC.”
He doubled down on that statement during an interview with CNN.
“I am in no way comparing President Trump to Joseph Stalin. Joseph Stalin was a killer. Our president is not.”
Ward is one of a handful of candidates running for Flake’s seat. She trailed both U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a poll released Tuesday.