GOP lawmaker once made a joke about Saudi women stepping on land mines

Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFive things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Democratic challenger to McConnell raises .5 million on first day of campaign MORE (R-Ariz.) once appeared to joke about women in Saudi Arabia stepping on land mines.

McSally in 2003 gave a commencement address at Rhode Island College, in which she said she was thankful to be back in the U.S. after spending time deployed in Saudi Arabia as an Air Force pilot, according to a video obtained by ThinkProgress.

She said during her most recent time in Saudi Arabia, she saw "something different."

"As a custom, the women walk 5 to 10 feet behind the men. And, it's because of their deference and where they stand in society and that's just a common practice," she said. "When I went back this time what I saw was an exact reversal. The women, when I went off-base, were actually walking 5 to 10 feet in front of the men."

She said she couldn't believe it.

"I thought, I know we've been trying to bring about some change, could it be that some radical revelation has come and women are finally in a place of respect," she said.

McSally said she went up to one of the women and said: "I can't believe it, you've got to tell me, I mean I was just here recently, what changed?"

"And she said, 'land mines,' " McSally said, to laughter. 

McSally said she realized the comment "wasn't politically correct," but added she wanted to see if she could "get your attention," according to ThinkProgress.

McSally announced earlier this year her bid for Senate to replace Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R), who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term. Other candidates in the primary include former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R).

In her campaign video to kick off her Senate bid, McSally made an attempt to appeal to her party's right flank and reminded voters about her successful challenge to military rules that mandated women wear an Islamic robe over their uniform while in some Muslim countries.