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President Donald Trump visits Luke Air Force Base prior to Mesa rally

President Donald Trump talks to a pilot in the cockpit of an F-35 aircraft during a Defense Capability Tour at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump arrived at Luke Air Force Base prior to his rally for Republican senator candidate Martha McSally on Friday.

Trump spoke during a roundtable with defense industry executives and local business leaders. McSally, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, Rep. Debbie Lesko, a Boeing official and others were in attendance.

Trump praised McSally for her service as a former Air Force colonel and combat fighter pilot, calling her “brilliant and brave” and has a “very, very strange opponent.”

McSally is running against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. Trump did not say why he thought Sinema was “strange.”

The two congresswomen are vying for the U.S. Senator seat of Republican Jeff Flake, who is retiring.

McSally was a Trump critic in 2016 and represents a Tucson district that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump is scheduled to appear at International Air Response at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa to help stump for McSally.

Mayor Thelda Williams, who currently serves as a member of the Luke AFB West Valley Council, was appreciative of the president’s visit.

“I’m excited to see the nation’s defense community and the President discuss prominent issues our military faces, including the importance of Luke Air Force Base’s mission in protecting our nation,” Williams said on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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