October 16, 2018 / Modified oct 16, 2018 10:38 a.m.

Debate: McSally Accuses Sinema of Promoting 'Treason'

2003 radio interview is the focus of the accusation.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Martha McSally used the closing minutes of Monday night's debate to accuse her Democratic opponent, Kyrsten Sinema, of supporting "treason" in 2003.

Last night's hour-long debate covered issues ranging from immigration to health care and the Supreme Court. But as moderator Ted Simons was trying to wrap it up, McSally voiced frustration at having no questions about the military, and she accused Sinema of encouraging people to join the Taliban during the debate over the Iraq war.

(Simons) "... But we have to let you respond to that."

(McSally) "... whether you're going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it's okay to commit treason ..."

(Simons) "We're running out of time so we gotta get a response."

(McSally) "Well, l we need a response because she owes us an apology."

(Simons) "... Please ..."

(Sinema) "Martha has chosen to run a campaign like the one you're seeing right now ..."

(McSally) "It's treason."

(Sinema) "... where she's been engaging in ridiculous attacks and smearing my campaign."

At issue is a newly-uncovered exchange from 2003 between Sinema, then an anti-war activist, and libertarian radio host Ernest Hancock.

(Hancock) "If I want to go fight in the Taliban army, I'm saying that's a personal decision."

(Sinema) "Fine, I don't care if you want to do that."

Sinema's campaign told CNN it was an offhand remark aimed at getting the host back on topic. In the debate Sinema asserted she supports the military, and veterans.

Both McSally and Sinema also claimed to be strong on immigration issues.

McSally, an Air Force veteran, said despite her support for a border wall, she would never shut down the government over the issue, and she accused Sinema of doing exactly that.

"Last year when there's a lot of pressure from Kyrsten's base to address this issue, she voted with Chuck Schumer to shut down the government, choosing illegal immigrants over our troops in a partisan play," McSally said.

Sinema says she supports a border wall too, but she's also worked across the aisle on a bill that would build the wall, while also helping immigrants brought here as children.

"And I sponsored, [was] an original co-sponsor, of a bill called the USA Act, which I mentioned earlier, which both secures our border and provides a path to citizenship for 'Dreamers.' Martha has chosen not to support that bipartisan legislation," Sinema said, referring to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The two candidates also debated health care, with each accusing the other of wanting to undermine protection for people with pre-existing conditions.

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