Sinema defends record on military after old anti-war flyers resurface

Sinema defends record on military after old anti-war flyers resurface
© Greg Nash

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) is defending her support for the armed forces after a CNN investigation uncovered her past criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The flyers, first reported by a K-File investigation, were created by a group Sinema co-founded to protest the two wars and sharply criticized the Bush administration and U.S. policy in the Middle East. 

One flyer depicts a U.S. soldier as a skeleton marching against protesters.

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"This is not about the United States doing the right and moral thing by a toppling an evil dictator," she said during a local news interview in 2004. "This is more about the United States having access to the oil and the power and control and world stature that it's seeking. It's not about the individuals in Iraq."

Rhetoric on the posters and in Sinema's interview, which largely remains aimed at the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, seems to contradict Sinema's congressional record and her public stance as a moderate and member of the Blue Dog Democrats.

Sinema's campaign spokeswoman Helen Hare told The Hill in an email that Sinema "did not review or approve the flyers." The campaign also pointed to several statements from Sinema explaining that the protests were to "respect and honor" lives lost as a result of the wars.

"This is to respect and honor those who would be killed. We want those lives to not be sacrificed," she said in 2003, according to The Arizona Republic.

Since taking office, Sinema has voted with Republicans in favor of halting refugee admissions from Iraq and Syria in 2015, and opposed the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement. Last year, she supported the Trump administration's strike on Syria after a suspected chemical weapons attack.

"Striking at Assad's capacity to deploy chemical weapons sends a powerful signal that the use of these heinous weapons will not be tolerated. The administration must work with Congress to develop a clear, unified, and effective strategy to end the conflict in Syria, remove Assad from power, address the humanitarian crisis, and defeat ISIS," she said last April in a statement.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for Sinema said, "Kyrsten comes from a military family and is very proud of her record supporting Arizona’s servicemembers, veterans, and their families. Attacks on Kyrsten's respect for those who serve have already been called out as false, and Kyrsten is going to stay focused on the issues that matter most to Arizonans--like making sure Congresswoman McSally and her allies can’t roll back protections for patients with pre-existing conditions."

Sinema's opponent for Arizona's Senate seat, Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law McSally to introduce military sexual assault reform bill MORE (R), an Air Force veteran, hammered her last month in an ad over her past anti-war activism.

“While we were in harm’s way in uniform, Kyrsten Sinema was protesting us in a pink tutu and denigrating our service,” McSally said.

“The world is a dangerous place,” she added. “We need strong leaders who understand the threat and respect our troops. Kyrsten Sinema fails the test.”

A PolitiFact investigation earlier this week defended Sinema, stating that it had found "no evidence of her disparaging troops."

"McSally’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False," the fact-checker wrote.

-- Updated 4:54 p.m.