Dr. Kelli Ward

Bill Clark | AP Photo

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Kelli Ward is preparing for a long summer. With Arizona’s congressional primaries seemingly far off on the horizon in August, the former Arizona state senator has a ways to go on the road to unseat sitting Senator John McCain (AZ-R).

Despite the facing daunting challenge of taking on a three-decade incumbent, Ward sees that this just might be the time to do it, according to a phone interview with Conservative Review on Wednesday.

“You’ve seen it across the whole country, people are angry, upset, disappointed and disgusted with Washington, DC, with inside the beltway politics, and I see that right here in Arizona as well. But I think that people are turning that negativity to positivity,” said Ward of the support she’s seen for her candidacy. “And it really is giving people hope that we can turn the Senate more conservative than it is, and that the conservatives that are currently there are people like Senator [Ted] Cruz, Senator [Rand] Paul and Senator [Mike] Lee are going to have reinforcements to help them actually get things done to put this country on the right track.”

Immigration and veterans issues are two of the big issues on which Ward, who has been endorsed by CR’s Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin, has been hitting McCain hard, she said in the interview.

“Stop holding hearings,” she implored. “Stop holding town halls, stop writing letters and actually do something for the veterans who served our country so honorably.”

Dr. Kelly Ward

Listen to the full interview here:

“[McCain] basically failed us [on immigration]. He lied; He said he wanted to build a [border] fence and then he ran right to the gang of eight amnesty bill, and the comprehensive immigration reform that we all know is code for amnesty,” said the candidate. “So that on the ground here in Arizona is very, very important.”

Also on Ward’s agenda are recent scandals at the Veterans Administration, which she said has failed to adequately serve America’s servicemen and women under McCain’s—whom she referred to as “the most famous veteran in America” and the world—watch on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Stop holding hearings,” she implored. “Stop holding town halls, stop writing letters and actually do something for the veterans who served our country so honorably.”

“Our country should be getting our priorities straight,” on veteran’s and immigration issues, Ward said when asked about her recently-avowed support of presidential candidate Donald Trump, and how she believes it will impact her appeal among voters in the armed forces. “The current administration [and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton] prioritize people who have come into our country illegally…they even prioritize the LGBT community above our veterans; our veterans need to be at the top of our priority list.”

Ward, who was in the Arizona Senate during the showdown over the state’s failed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), also weighed in on the ongoing battle over North Carolina’s HB2.

“Loretta Lynch is even suing the state of North Carolina over an issue that really is a state’s rights issue…and that’s coming from the top-down. The top of the Obama Administration on down. And the media follows right along many times. And though these are small groups; the LGBT community is pretty small in this country. But they are given a huge microphone to change the culture in this country.”

Citing immigration, school choice and veterans’ issues, Ward again lamented what she views as America’s mismatched priorities. “There are so many things that we should have above trying to figure out which bathroom people can use,” she said. “The rest of the world is concerned about terrorism, is concerned about the economy, is concerned about jobs and the Obama Administration is concerned about where we use the bathroom.”

“The most important thing is to have a backbone,” when standing up to public pressure on issues like HB2 and Arizona’s RFRA, said Ward when asked how congressional conservatives could assist N.C. Governor Pat McCrory (R). “I think that you have to stand up to the hypocrisy of recording stars and movie stars…that are saying ‘we’re not going to North Carolina,’ and then on the flipside they’re going to places in the Middle East who don’t allow women to drive, who require them to cover their, who give them no freedom whatsoever, let alone to choose where they’re able to go to the bathroom or not…you have to be fearless.”

Ward also hit back against National Right to Life’s recent endorsement of her primary opponent during the call, which she called a “political favor” from a “big national group.”

“My voting record is 100 percent pro-life; his, not so much,” said Ward, referencing McCain’s previous support for fetal tissue research, and went on to argue that McCain’s support thereof “set us up for Planned Parenthood to be able to harvest and sell baby body parts.”

National Right to Life did not respond to CR’s request for comment.

“John McCain is deeply honored to have the support of NRLC, the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.  He has received a 100% rating from this organization every year since 2009,” reads an emailed statement from the incumbent’s campaign, who also sent CR “questionable” statements from Ward in 2012 such as: “I think the government has come too much into the doctor­-patient relationship in all areas, and I think abortion is one of those areas.”

Ward, who recently said she expected to ride the “Trump Wave” into Washington, also addressed potential concerns stemming from her association and support of the candidate in, and recent disagreement in the conservative movement about whether or not Donald Trump will make a trustworthy bedfellow. When pressed about threats to her street cred, the candidate said that she believes in a lot of the same “populist conservative values” as the New York billionaire.

Ward will face off against McCain in the Arizona congressional primary on August 30.

Nate Madden is a Staff Writer for Conservative Review, focusing on religion and culture. He previously served as the Director of Policy Relations for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. A John Jay Fellow, Citadel Parliamentary Fellow and National Journalism Center alumnus, Nate has previously written for World Magazine, The Washington Times, Catholic News Service, Patheos, Ethika Politika, and The Christian Post. Follow him @NateMadden_IV.

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