US Senate candidate Dr. Kelli Ward comes to President Trump’s defense

Jul 17, 2018, 9:42 AM | Updated: 9:46 am
(Twitter Photo/@kelliwardaz)...
(Twitter Photo/@kelliwardaz)
(Twitter Photo/@kelliwardaz)

PHOENIX — Not every Arizona politician thought President Donald Trump’s performance during his summit with Russian President Vladimir was a fiasco.

U.S. Senate Republican hopeful Dr. Kelli Ward came to Trump’s defense Monday night, hours after the president was ripped by politicians on both sides of the aisle, including GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

At 11:20 p.m., Ward tweeted that Trump was keeping his campaign promise to mend U.S. relations with Russian and keep Americans safe.

She also tweeted a link to a Washington Times article about her support of Trump.

The physician and former state senator is running for the seat being vacated by Flake, who is not seeking re-election.

Neither of her opponents for the Aug. 28 GOP primary, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have directly addressed what Trump said during a news conference in Helsinki, Finland.

McSally hadn’t responded publicly as of Tuesday morning.

On Monday afternoon, Arpaio’s social media accounts shared a video of Trump defending his decision to pardon Arpaio, who had been found guilty of misdemeanor criminal contempt.

It’s unclear whether Arpaio’s sharing of the video was in any way related to Helsinki.

The likely Democratic candidate in the race for Flake’s seat, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, was one of the many U.S. lawmakers who expressed their displeasure with Trump, saying she was “highly disturbed” by his comments.

Her sentiments echoed those of McCain, who called the meeting “disgraceful,” and Flake, who said it was “shameful.”

During a joint news conference with Putin on Monday, Trump appeared to side with the Russians when asked about indictments issued last week by the U.S. Department of Justice against 12 Russian military intelligence officers for allegedly meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” said Trump, repeatedly denouncing the special counsel investigation into Russian interference efforts, which intelligence officials warn are ongoing.

“I don’t see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election,” Trump said.

Trump also said the U.S. has been “foolish” in its dealings with Russia and was equally to blame for poor relations between the countries.

Ward has been campaigning on her strong support for Trump. On Monday, it was reported that her political action committee had recently received a $500,000 contribution from conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer.

In polling done last month, Ward was running second in the GOP race behind McSally.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US Senate candidate Dr. Kelli Ward comes to President Trump’s defense