Rep. Ben Quayle (above) got the endorsement of Sen. John McCain in his primary against a fellow Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) officially endorsed Rep. Ben Quayle in his Member-vs.-Member primary against fellow Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert on Wednesday.
“I strongly recommend that he be re-elected,” McCain said at a Wednesday news conference.
The Quayle campaign posted the full video online:
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has also endorsed Quayle. But the side Kyl and McCain picked was as much about the Member they shunned (Schweikert) as the Member they backed (Quayle).
McCain conceded as much in his remarks announcing his endorsement of Quayle, suggesting that he has been uncomfortable with recent Schweikert campaign mailings.
“There are lines that I and Jon have watched over the years that should not be crossed, and character assassination and innuendo and allegations that are patently false I believe have no place in the political environment of Arizona,” McCain said.
McCain then held up a mailer that said Quayle “goes both ways,” according to the Arizona Republic.
The Quayle campaign has taken issue with that diction, which can apply to bisexuality.
“This is not appropriate,” McCain said. “This crosses the boundaries of decent political dialogue and discourse. This is not something that is acceptable at all.”
Kyl issued a scathing statement in defense of Quayle last week as well. He endorsed Quayle early in the campaign and was also in attendance at Wednesday’s news conference.
Roll Call previously reported that McCain had committed to endorsing Quayle weeks before the official announcement. During the news conference, reporters asked McCain if Schweikert ever asked for an endorsement. McCain said that he did, although that account is vigorously disputed by the Schweikert campaign.
“Of course,” McCain said on Wednesday, when asked if Schweikert had asked for his endorsement.
The Schweikert campaign doubled down on its version of the story.
“Congressman Schweikert has not sought the endorsement of Senator John McCain,” Schweikert general consultant Chris Baker wrote in an email Wednesday night. “Any assertion otherwise is not true.”
That there are differing versions of the communication between McCain and Schweikert and that it is a point of contention among Members of the Republican party’s state delegation is only the latest example of how much of a nasty turn this race has taken.