With shouts of “four more years,” and “make America great again,” about 50 supporters of President Donald Trump crowded into the Flagstaff Republican Field office to welcome the Women for Trump bus tour.
Speaking at the event were several high profile Republicans including Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, U.S. Senator Martha McSally and Congressional District 1 candidate Tiffany Shedd.
During the stop, McSally made the case that Trump and the Republican Party are the right choice for women voters. And McSally presented both her opponent Mark Kelly and former Vice President Joe Biden as far-left radicals, a claim both Democrats dispute.
McSally said women care about issues like national security, border security and keeping police departments fully funded.
“That’s what’s at stake right now in this election,” McSally said. “Before this first-in-a-century pandemic hit, we had the lowest unemployment out there for women, we had the lowest unemployment across all demographics.”
Likewise, Shedd said she didn’t fit the liberal stereotype of what a Republican woman should be and attacked Democratic Rep Tom O’Halleran.
“I grew up in a Hispanic community, I’ve taught bilingual kindergarten, I am the mother of three Native American children, I farm and I am a small business owner,” Shedd said. “We have Tom O’Halleran on the run with a clear path to victory, so we need to knock, call, do whatever you have to do so we can win this district.”
O’Halleran represents himself as a moderate Democrat seeking bipartisan solutions, but Shedd took issue with that claim, suggesting instead that he is in lockstep with Democratic Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Women for Trump bus has been on tour crisscrossing the country for the last 80 days and is now spending two days at stops across the state.
The stop in Flagstaff at about 10 a.m. Wednesday was just the first of many planned for that day, said spokesperson Emma Hall.
Republican speakers drew a distinction between their on-the-ground tour and the strategy of Biden, who has campaigning primarily from his home in Delaware for fear of spreading the virus.
Biden is challenging Trump for the presidency after both officially received their parties’ nominations last month.
Ward said she believed the tour was being conducted in a safe way and that the state of Arizona was at a point where such a tour was appropriate.
“It’s time to open Arizona in a very safe way. We’re making sure that we’re social distancing, we’re making sure that we’re washing hands,” Ward said. “People who want to wear masks are wearing masks, so we’re out here, standing up for President Trump and standing up for our freedom.”
Ward also defended the Trump administration’s response to the virus, insisting the president had taken important steps early on to ensure the pandemic had not impacted the country in the way it could have. As evidence, Ward pointed to the travel restrictions to and from China and many European counties.
The number of new cases in Coconino County has been trending downward in recent weeks, although 126 residents have died from the virus since March 16.
Ward said the federal aid that Congress passed and the administration approved for states has saved thousands of lives. But Ward suggested Flagstaff may not have seen as much benefit from that aid because of Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans.
“Putting into place opportunities for our state governments, who have the responsibility for managing these pandemics, to have resources from the federal government that were managed at the state level and [distributed] to the local level is amazing. Unfortunately, in Flagstaff, many people aren’t able to live in Trump’s America because it is ruled under Democrat leaders,” Ward said.
Evans, a Democrat, is seeking a seat in the state House of Representatives for Legislative District 6.
Former state Representative Brenda Barton, who is competing with Evans and Art Babbott in that race, was also in attendance at the event.
Last month, several high profile Republicans spoke during the Democratic National Convention, including Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Senator John McCain who died in August 2018.
During the convention, McCain spoke to the friendship between her late husband and Biden, tacitly endorsing the Democrat.
McSally, who was appointed to the late senator’s seat, said she respected the decision but added it by no means dissuaded her own support of President Trump.
“This is an important choice at the top of the ticket and I respect everyone’s decision and their perspective on that,” McSally said. “For me, I’m with President Trump because I have been working with him to provide more opportunities for the people of Arizona, to support our military, the secure our border, to confirm judges.”
But Ward said she hopes that Republicans who are considering Biden as their candidate come back into the fold before November.
“I certainly hope that the Republicans who have gone a little astray remember that this is about policy, not about personality,” Ward said. “I hope over these next 60 days they have their eyes open and when they go into the voting booth, they actually check President Trump, Martha McSally and Republicans all the way down the ballot.”
The Women for Trump bus tour represented the second Trump campaign road show to visit Flagstaff within the last three weeks.
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