Talk about awkward timing.
Hours before President Trump announced the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party said publicly that Trump had aligned himself with the terrorist organization.
Naturally, the Arizona Republican Party called out chairwoman Felecia Rotellini for the ill-timed remark she’d made at a “We the Voters” conference on Saturday in Phoenix.
Felecia Rotellini speaks during an election night party in Phoenix in 2014. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Rotellini was explaining why she thought Democrats were going to show up to vote in 2020. “Another reason why people are going to vote (is) because Donald Trump is manipulating the White House and has aligned himself with ISIS and Saudi Arabia,” Rotellini said.
State Republican Chairwoman Kelly Ward immediately fired back. “I have to say that is not true. That is not true,” Ward said as Rotellini tried to continue.
In a major foreign policy win for the Trump administration, U.S. special forces raided an Islamic State (ISIS) compound in northern Syria; Baghdadi ultimately killed himself by setting off a suicide vest. Overall, U.S. forces killed six ISIS members.
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“It was a poor choice of words,” Matt Grodksy, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party, told The Arizona Republic. Nevertheless, he said the comments had stemmed from “President Trump’s haphazard decision to withdraw troops from Syria, which has been opposed by Republicans and Democrats alike because it abandoned our Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS, empowered Iran, Russia and the Syrian regime, and hurt our interests in the region.”
Ward said Rotellini’s comments were “wildly irresponsible.” “It is extremely disconcerting to hear the top Democrat in Arizona slander and malign an innocent person for being aligned with the world’s most evil terrorists, let alone the president of the United States,” she said, according to the newspaper.
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“While fear-mongering from the left is expected up to a point, we have to draw the line somewhere if they’re going to refuse to police themselves. Baseless statements like those made by the chair of the Arizona (Democratic Party) are wildly irresponsible and not rooted in reality.”
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Democrats and Republicans had been leery of Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, opening the door for a Turkish incursion targeting the Kurds, U.S. allies in efforts to contain the terror group.
Some worried that it might allow ISIS to re-establish a stronghold in the region. The death of not only Baghdadi but also Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, a possible successor to Baghdadi, in a separate operation led by U.S. forces has helped ease some of those fears.