This is about as low as it gets.
Leaders from across the political spectrum have been mourning the loss of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — but one of the Republicans running for senate in McCain's state actually suggested that the timing of his death was a plot to hurt her campaign.
After hearing this, a staffer for Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward wondered aloud on Facebook whether McCain had "released his statement on the kickoff day of Kelli Ward's bus tour" in order to "take media attention off her campaign?"
In a now-deleted reply that was captured by local reporter Brahm Resnik, Ward agreed: "I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me," she wrote.
After deleting that reply, Ward posted a new reply criticizing the media for "making something out of nothing" by reporting on her initial comment.
Ward's reprehensible suggestion, made in the waning hours of McCain's life, is entirely in character for the candidate.
At a campaign event in April, Ward denigrated military service in general, and McCain in particular, by telling the crowd not to be "fooled" by "fluff ads" that reference military service.
“The last guy that was a pilot and became a senator in Arizona — ” Ward said, finishing her sentence with a dismissive gesture. "You guys make your own decisions."
In ordinary times, Ward's latest attack would probably end her candidacy. But these are not ordinary times.
Ward is desperately seeking the approval of Trump voters, and attacking John McCain could be one way to help her do that.
Trump has spent years attacking John McCain. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump infamously called McCain a “loser,” and said that McCain wasn’t really a war hero.
“He was a hero because he was captured,” Trump said in 2015. “I like people that weren’t captured.”
That comment didn't faze Trump's supporters, even when it became widely known that Trump had previously joked that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”
Then, after McCain shocked many by joining 48 Democrats and two other Republicans in voting down Trumpcare, Trump began attacking and disrespecting McCain anew. He even cruelly mocked the senator’s arm movements, which are restricted because of the torture he suffered as a prisoner of war.
But Trump's supporters reacted to these attacks with gusto, jeering and booing McCain — just like the crowd at that Kelli Ward event in April.
Ward may end up gaining the support of Trump's followers. But she will likely lose the respect of decent Americans.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.