PHOENIX — Hours before Sen. John McCain died on Saturday, a Republican seeking Arizona's other U.S. Senate seat suggested that his family's earlier announcement that he was ending cancer treatment had been timed to hurt her campaign.
Former State Sen. Kelli Ward, who lost a primary to McCain running from the right in 2016 and is now trying to win the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake's seat, made the suggestion in response to a Facebook post by a campaign aide.
According to screenshots of the conversation posted on Twitter by Arizona political reporters, the aide, Jonathan Williams, wondered if it was "just a coincidence" that the announcement of McCain ending medical treatment came the day Ward was launching a statewide bus tour, her big push before Tuesday's primary.
Ward replied: "I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that is negative to me."
After her response was Tweeted out, Ward deleted the post and replaced it with one claiming the media was concocting a story.
"I've said again and again to pray for Senator McCain & his family," Ward wrote. "These decisions are terrible to have to make. I feel compassion for him and his family as they go through this."
Ward has acknowledged she is the underdog in Tuesday's primary. She faces Rep. Martha McSally and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
A message left with Ward's campaign office on Sunday morning was not immediately returned.