GOP Arizona Senate candidate suggested McCain family statement on cancer treatment was meant to hurt her campaign

Arizona GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward suggested Saturday that the Friday statement issued by Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? MORE’s (R-Ariz.) family about ending medical treatment for brain cancer was intended to hurt her campaign.

McCain died Saturday hours after she made the suggestion on Facebook, The Arizona Republic reported

"I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me,” Ward wrote. 

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Ward had commented on a Facebook post made by one of her campaign staffers, who questioned the timing of the McCain family’s release.

Ward commenced her campaign bus tour the same day, the newspaper noted.

Ward’s staffer wondered if the statement released by the senator’s family was “just a coincidence” or “if it was a plan to take media attention off her campaign?”

Aaron Borders, the former second-vice chairman of a Maricopa County Republican Party group, took screenshots of Ward's remarks and slammed the candidate in an interview with The Republic.

"It's wildly inappropriate,” Borders said.“It's classless. It's not decent ... it's very narcissistic. It's a narcissist comment to sit there and think that the McCain family made this decision to interfere with your bus tour."

Ward’s statement appeared to have been deleted shortly after.

Ward posted a follow-up comment on Facebook that appeared to blame the media.

"The media loves a narrative. I’ve said again and again to pray for Senator McCain & his family,” Ward commented. “These decisions are terrible to have to make. I feel compassion for him and his family as they go through this. It’s not the McCains creating a narrative - it’s the media making something out of nothing. The media, the left, and the Establishment have the agenda."

“They’ve been attacking me over fake stories for a year on this issue. I ran against Mr. McCain. I don’t agree with his voting record and rhetoric. I pray for him as a man who is suffering,” she continued, according to the outlet.

That comment also appears to have been deleted.

Ward's campaign spokesman, Zachery Henry, did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Ward took to Twitter after news of McCain’s death, saying she was “saddened” to hear of his passing.

“His decades of service will not be forgotten by the men & women of Arizona,” Ward tweeted Saturday. “May God grant the McCain family comfort and peace during this difficult time.”

The tweet faced a barrage of criticism from those slamming her earlier comments.

public primary poll conducted by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights in mid-June found Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Air Force probe finds no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Trump pick Ex-FBI official names right-wing extremism one of the biggest security challenges for 2020 MORE (R-Ariz.) with a 14-point lead over Ward. But another poll released a week later from NBC News–Marist found a much tighter GOP primary, with McSally leading Ward by only 2 points.

McCain, a giant of the Senate and Vietnam War veteran, died one day after his family announced that he would be discontinuing medical treatment for brain cancer, stating that the “progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age” had rendered “their verdict.”

He survived years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before becoming a leading actor on the political stage for decades.