Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who faces a tough election fight in 2020, took a campaign victory lap Thursday after calling a CNN reporter a hack.
The day started with a straightforward question from CNN’s Manu Raju, who approached McSally in a Senate hallway just hours after hundreds of pages of records from Lev Parnas’ iPhone were released publicly by congressional investigators.
“Sen. McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?” he asked.
“Manu, you’re a liberal hack,” McSally replied. “I’m not talking to you.”
Raju asked if she would comment at all.
“You’re a liberal hack,” McSally repeated as she walked out of sight.
McSally’s staffer was apparently recording the exchange, which the senator posted on her official Twitter page within an hour.
Then, the campaigning began.
Within an hour of the video hitting Twitter, Politico’s Kyle Cheney noted, McSally’s campaign had reserved the domain name Liberalhack.com — prime real estate.
NEW SHIRT!! 🚨
I’m in the Senate to fight for all Arizonans, not play politics and games with the liberal hacks of the left-wing media! https://t.co/tNbKJa49JN
— McSally For Senate (@MarthaMcSally) January 17, 2020
The site features a shirt with the senator’s phrase, a gift for those who donate $35 or more to her campaign. It has a ’70s vibe.
President Trump’s campaign, of course, endorsed McSally’s remark. They also tweeted a link to her campaign donation page:
THREE CHEERS for Senator @MarthaMcSally!!!
THIS is how you handle FAKE NEWS @CNN.
— Trump War Room — Text FIGHT to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) January 16, 2020
By Thursday evening, McSally appeared on Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show to talk about the viral video hit. Ingraham’s is the fourth most watched cable news show in the country, according to Nielsen data released in December, with 2.567 million total viewers last year.
“Do you regret what you said?” Ingraham asked, dead panning.
“Uh, no Laura, I do not. And I said it again, actually, as I went in. I said, you’re a liberal hack buddy!” the senator responded gleefully.
Notably, though, McSally refused to answer a question similar to Raju’s, when Ingraham asked whether she would vote to hear witnesses at the impeachment trial.
“We’re going to get to that,” McSally said, dodging. “I’m not going to tell everybody what all my votes are going to be.”
McSally may face off against the former astronaut Mark Kelly in 2020 — the primary elections are in August. Kelly, husband of former congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, has a big cash lead over McSally.
The senator, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2014, unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 2018 against Arizona’s other current senator, Kyrsten Sinema. McSally ultimately did reach the Senate — after she was appointed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) vacant Senate seat, which had been temporarily filled by John Kyl.
Notably, McSally took a couple of veiled swipes at McCain toward the end of his life. The late senator was well-known for joking around with members of the press, including Raju. So when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked an unnamed McCain family member what they thought of the “hack” hubbub, they were blunt: “There’s no love lost between our family and her.”