Conservative challenger targets McCain on Planned Parenthood

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMost in new poll say Biden running mate won't influence their vote Kelly leads McSally by 9 points in Arizona McCain's reset: US-Vietnam relations going strong after 25 years MORE's primary challenger is hoping to jump-start her campaign off the recent Planned Parenthood fight, suggesting the Arizona senator flip-flopped on whether he would oppose any government funding bill that included money for the organization.

"I have had enough. If McCain can't even muster the strength to stop abortionists from selling baby's body parts, then there is no chance he will fight for anything else," Kelli Ward, who is running an uphill campaign against McCain for the Republican nomination, said Tuesday in a fundraising email to supporters.

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The Arizona state senator said McCain "initially" indicated he would be willing to shut down the government instead of funding Planned Parenthood.

"I was surprised and pleased when John McCain initially said he'd be willing to shut down the government instead of funding Planned Parenthood," she said in the email.

McCain told NPR earlier this month that "I don't like a government shutdown, but this is a clear case of totally improper use of taxpayers' dollars. ... I have an obligation to the taxpayers of Arizona.”

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain, quickly told The Arizona Republic that the report were not an "accurate reflection" of McCain's views.

“Senator McCain never said he supported a government shutdown, and he agrees with Leader McConnell that there should not be a government shutdown this fall," Rogers added, separately, in a statement.

But Ward, in the email, is suggesting that McCain "backtracked" and "preemptively surrendered to Obama and the radical left, saying he wouldn't be willing to shut down the government to defund the organ harvesting of aborted babies."

separate video released by Ward on Monday also targets McCain, saying that "flip-flopping John McCain won't stand up to Planned Parenthood" with a photo of the senator and President Obama in the background.

The video cites the Republic article, which includes Rogers's statement.

McCain, who is up for reelection next year, is getting hit from both sides over whether or not he supports linking defunding Planned Parenthood to a government spending bill.

While Ward is a longshot to beat McCain, her criticism comes amid a larger Republican fight about the issue.

Conservatives are pledging that they won't support a spending bill unless it defunds Planned Parenthood and are pressing leadership, trying to build pressure heading into the fall.

Meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Pelosi signals flexibility on size of renewed unemployment payments Lincoln Project reports raising .8 million for anti-Trump efforts MORE (R-Ky.) has said repeatedly that he won't let the government shut down, a result that would undercut his push to show that Republicans can govern responsibly.

McCain is also getting targeted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), alongside a handful of Republicans up for reelection next year.

The committee said last week that McCain "cheerleads a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood" and suggested that Republicans are willing to "attack women’s health and shutdown the government."

Rogers, however, dismissed the DSCC saying that it was "unfortunate but not surprising" that they are taking McCain "out of context."

"It’s sad that Senate Democrats would rather spread fears of a government shutdown than address their role in protecting taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood," he added.