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McCain co-author: Rep. Gosar 'dumbass' over Cindy McCain talk; Gosar responds 'piss off'

  • June 03, 2018

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Sen. John McCain discusses his most enduring contribution to the Senate during an interview with The Arizona Republic on Aug. 3, 2017. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain’s co-author and former Senate chief of staff tore apart an Arizona congressman who said he agreed with a gubernatorial candidate that McCain’s wife, Cindy, should not be appointed to her husband’s seat if it is vacated. 

Mark Salter, frequently described as McCain’s alter ego, berated Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., on Twitter Saturday, calling him a “dumbass” for weighing into the conversation since McCain’s seat isn’t even vacant. Gosar, who has reportedly expressed interest in the appointment to McCain’s seat, told Salter to “piss off.”

The virtual brawl on social media puts into sharp focus the deep political divide within the Republican Party over McCain.

McCain, 81, is battling brain cancer and is at his family retreat near Sedona with his wife and daughter, Meghan. 

Early Saturday, Gosar wrote on Twitter that Cindy McCain was not qualified to hold the seat and asserted that Gov. Doug Ducey or his team “floated” Cindy’s name to see how the public would respond. That claim is false, Ducey’s spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato said Saturday. 

Gosar’s post came days after Ken Bennett, ignited a political firestorm by pledging to never appoint Cindy if he wins his long-shot bid to unseat Ducey during the Aug. 28 primary.

Bennett’s social media posts indicate he was basing his information off a story published by Newsmax.com. That story carried the headline “Cindy McCain Set to Succeed Husband in Senate,” and relied on unnamed, anonymous sources. The story is spreading on social media, particularly on conservative pages and groups, and is drawing heated responses by those who dislike the McCains. 

Gosar wrote that Ducey, who earlier in the week ripped Bennett and his pledge, would be “wrong” to appoint Cindy. The governor and his team have shut down talk of a potential succession plan if the senator were to resign or die in office, saying McCain is Arizona’s senator until 2022. His team has called the speculation “disgraceful.”

“It is a matter of public policy,” Gosar wrote. “Gov. Ducey or team floated the name. We want the most qualified for Senate. Cindy McCain is not. I reject leftist tactics of attacking the person and urge Ducey to stand down.” 

Soon after, Salter shot back.

“Hey dumbass, the seat isn’t vacant,” he wrote to Gosar. “Mind your own business and continue being the same useless do-nothing MC you’ve been from the start.”

Gosar responded that Salter’s “infantile name calling befits” the author. 

“Next you will bemoan the ‘lack of civility,'” he wrote, a reference to McCain’s lamentation of the decline of civility and hostile partisan views that is dividing Americans. 

“Responsible adults plan for the future #pissoff,” Gosar wrote. 

Salter fired back that he lamented Gosar’s “lack of class and decency” and his approach to politics, which is seen by some as combative and intemperate.

“And I’m not alone,” Salter wrote. “Your own family doesn’t like you.”

In an interview with Vice News that aired on HBO last year, Gosar raised far-right conspiracy theories. He suggested the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally was the work of a supporter of former President Barack Obama and that liberal activist George Soros had turned Jews over to the Nazis as a boy.

That interview exposed a deep-seated family rift, with Gosar’s brother telling The Arizona Republic he was repulsed by the congressman’s comments.

After Salter invoked Gosar’s family, the congressman responded with “this is why we lost 2008.” That year, McCain lost his bid for the U.S. presidency to Obama. 

Salter fired back: “I guess you think it’s better to beg the governor for a senate appointment, be laughed at and then tweet insults at the family of a man who served his country for 60 years with more integrity than you’ve ever demonstrated in your entire life. Yeah that’s winning.”

McCain and Salter’s new book, “The Restless Wave,” this week hit No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list in Hardcover Nonfiction and in Combined Print e-Book Nonfiction.

More: ‘This is not an administration that is capable of apologizing,’ Meghan McCain says

More: HBO’s ‘John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls’ isn’t a eulogy

More: McCain: Trump’s pardon of boxing legend Jack Johnson closes ‘shameful chapter’ in history

Follow Yvonne Wingett Sanchez yvonne.wingett@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. 

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