Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward distanced herself from former White House strategist Steve Bannon Thursday after touting his endorsement early in her candidacy.
“He was never part of my campaign. He was never an adviser. He’s not somebody that I’d reach out and talk to in any way, shape or form,” Ms. Ward, who is running to represent Arizona in the Senate, told CNN.
Ms. Ward said recent revelations about the former White House chief strategist have changed her opinion of Mr. Bannon.
“He’s made some significant mistakes, significant gaffes, that are unacceptable to me. I support the president, and I support the president’s family,” Ms. Ward said.
Mr. Bannon has been largely shunned from President Trump’s inner circle after author Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” was released. The book attributed several quotes to Mr. Bannon that are critical of the president and his family. Mr. Bannon also left his publication Breitbart News after the Mercer family, who financially back the outlet, expressed their dislike of his comments.
Ms. Ward was one of several Republican challenger candidates who Mr. Bannon planned to back after promising to challenge every establishment Republican in the midterms. He is still listed as one of Ms. Ward’s endorsements on her campaign website.
The recent entry of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, however, could split that challenger vote. Mr. Arpaio is also an avid supporter of Mr. Trump and was pardoned by the president last year. The 85-year-old was convicted of ignoring a court order to policing methods the court said amounted to racial profiling.
Ms. Ward called Mr. Arpaio a “patriot” and said there’s “plenty of room” for him in the race.
Mr. Arpaio’s entry knocked Ms. Ward to third place behind the former sheriff and Rep. Martha McSally, who is also expected to enter the race.
The OH Predictive Insights survey — taken the day Mr. Arpaio entered the race — showed Ms. McSally at 31 percent, Mr. Arpaio at 29 percent and Ms. Ward at 25 percent. The poll was taken via telephone among 504 likely Republican primary voters with a plus or minus 4.36 percent margin of error.
A November poll had Ms. Ward leading Ms. McSally by 8 points.
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