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McSally tells supporters to 'fast a meal' and donate to her campaign

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told her supporters to “fast a meal” and donate to her reelection effort during a recent event, a comment that sparked backlash, which her campaign later dismissed as a "joke." 

The Republican senator, who is facing a fierce challenge from Democratic opponent Mark Kelly, made the remarks during an event in northern Arizona, according to an audio recording obtained by outlet Arizona's Family on Friday.

“We're doing our part to catch up, you know, to get our message out. But it takes resources,” McSally said. “So, anybody can give, I'm not ashamed to ask, to invest. If you can give $1, $5, if you can fast a meal and give what that would be.”

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The remarks stirred backlash among critics online, causing the senator’s name to trend on Twitter on Saturday morning with nearly 30,000 tweets.

Singer-songwriter and writer Holly Figueroa O’Reilly called McSally’s remarks “sick.”

“There are literally people sitting in their cars in food bank lines all night in order to get a small box of food to feed their entire families for one week,” she wrote. “Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySenate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave Cunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing MORE wants you to skip some meals so she can win her Senate seat.”

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Dean Obeidallah, a comedian and radio show host, called it “selfishness that defines Trumpism.”

The Lincoln Project, a Republican super PAC targeting McSally and other GOP senators, simply wrote, “Yikes.”

McSally’s campaign dismissed the criticism in a statement to local media outlets.

"This is a dumb non-story about a candidate making a joke on the stump,” a spokeswoman for the campaign said in part to Arizona's Family.

Campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg told the Arizona Republic that McSally "would literally give the shirt off her back for anyone" while accusing Democrats and Kelly's campaign of "launching a misleading character assassination.

"Martha has written checks to people on her block that can't afford their groceries," the spokeswoman added while also pushing back on the criticism on Twitter.

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McSally is among the most vulnerable GOP Senate incumbents facing reelection this year. She is currently the only GOP Senate incumbent to find her seat in The Cook Political Report’s "lean Democrat" column.

She already has a history of losing a statewide race. A former representative from Arizona’s 2nd District, McSally was defeated in 2018 by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the state’s Senate race. Weeks after that loss, she was appointed by Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyThis election, Americans will once again show their support for marijuana legalization Whatever happened to Deborah Birx? Arizona, Virginia observe Indigenous Peoples Day for first time MORE (R) to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave Budowsky: Trump's COVID-19 death toll dominates election Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE’s (R-Ariz.) term.

Virtually every recent public poll shows the GOP incumbent trailing Kelly, a former astronaut and U.S. Navy captain, in the race.

Kelly began the general election fight with nearly $24 million in cash on hand, more than twice as much as McSally.