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How Underdog Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally Plans To Overcome Great Odds In November

She broke a kneecap hiking the highest mountain in Africa and competed in an Ironman triathlon with blood dripping down her face after sustaining an injury. So with her poll numbers being weak, even in historically Republican districts, we can still expect Republican Arizona Sen. Martha McSally will not be dissuaded easily.

President Donald Trump has reportedly told his advisers that he is concerned about her chances in the Nov. 3 special election. Yet she told the Daily Caller she’s giving it all she’s got.

In her recently-published book “Dare to Fly,” she describes her experience overcoming rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and the loss of family and friends as a “misery database.”

“We all have that database of difficult things we have been through,” McSally told the Caller. “Sometimes people tap into it in order to hold themselves back. They dwell on the misery, they can’t sleep at night, it stops moving them forward. I created the term [misery database] and I talk about it in a way that strengthens you, to propel you to be able to push through hard things and do amazing things because you’ve been through hard things before.”

McSally faced setbacks on her path to becoming a fighter pilot from the very beginning of her military career. Her arm was severely injured. She was too short to be a pilot. She was dreaming of a position that didn’t even exist yet for women in the military. 

Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of Defense Spectrum Policy and the Impact of the Federal Communications Commission’s Ligado Decision on National Security during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 6, 2020. (Photo: Shawn Thew/Pool via REUTERS)

But McSally’s difficulties began long before her career did. She said the death of her father Bernard McSally nearly broke her.

“Losing my dad at 12, and being very angry at God — the only way a 12-year-old can process it,” said McSally, “[then] being abused by my coach — robbing … me of my innocence while I was a hurting, vulnerable, fatherless kid. I have been to the depths of despair.”

Bernard told her on his deathbed: “Make me proud.”

McSally promised that she would. That moment, she says, is what drives her. She said she was later “able to find the peace of God and the hope of God to help me someday to get out of bed in the morning.”

“In the darkest and most difficult times in my life, I often found my last ounce of strength to persevere while thinking about my dad and his request,” she writes in “Dare to Fly.” 

She said she endured vicious harassment in the military due to her gender. She told the Caller that the “denigration” she put up with as a young female officer have helped her deal with the barrage of media attacks which she now faces regularly.

“As awful as those experiences I had as a woman in the military, it actually really helped me to be able to focus on serving, not getting distracted by the [media] attacks,” McSally said. “They’re unfair, they’re inflammatory. But life’s unfair, and ‘you know you’re over the target when you’re getting flak,’ as we say as fighter pilots. So you know they’re attacking me for a reason, and I gotta stay on my mission. I gotta keep serving and keep fighting and do the best that I can.”

Her father has influenced her life work in other ways. She said her father never dreamt of being a “big guy,” but only wanted to make a positive impact. She said he just wanted people to know “he was there.”

McSally has a long list of personal accomplishments, but she answered the phone for her interview with the Caller saying simply, “Hey, it’s Martha McSally.” She didn’t use her title. She doesn’t mention the Ivy League school she attended in “Dare to Fly,” nor did she mention it during the interview. 

McSally said her father Bernard often gave to charity anonymously. McSally herself donated her salary in April because she knew others had lost their income during the coronavirus pandemic. (RELATED: ‘Never Trusted A Communist’: Sen. McSally Calls For World Health Organization Director To Resign)

“If today is my last day, my prayer and my hope would be that there are people on this planet who say, ‘Martha made a difference in my life,’” McSally said, becoming emotional. “That someone would say that I was here and I impacted them in a positive way that made a positive difference for them. Now, whether that’s the neighbor down the street that I’m just helping through a difficult time or … legislation that I’m fighting for in the larger sense or supporting or fighting for my constituents.” 

U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) arrives to the U.S. Capitol on the third day of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., January 23, 2020. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger)

U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) arrives to the U.S. Capitol on the third day of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., January 23, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger)

McSally said she is committed to making a difference where she can and connected that desire to her desire to take office.

“If I am in a position to do something, why would I pass it by if I could make a difference for others?” (RELATED: Sen. Martha McSally Donates April Salary To Fight Coronavirus, Pauses Fundraising)

McSally once encountered a photo of an American woman serving in Saudi Arabia who was forced to wear full Muslim garb, a garment known as the abaya.

“When I walked by that picture of that American enlisted woman wearing the black gown and headscarf — it just gripped me,” McSally said. “I could’ve just walked by it and said, ‘This is not my problem,’ but instead I took a look into it.”

McSally told the Caller she fought for eight years and eventually sued the secretary of defense. She eventually got the law passed as a citizen, all by herself. Her decision to do so was professionally fraught.

At the time she raised the issue, McSally was on the cusp of becoming a fighter pilot. She knew drawing attention to herself was likely to injure her career.

“You gotta look at that moment in time for me,” McSally said. “I’m just trying to show that I can fly the jet, I can shoot the gun, be one of the guys. The last thing I ever wanted to be was to raise some ‘Excuse me, this is how women are being mistreated.’”

McSally said the story of Esther inspired her to take action — specifically, a line that read, “can it be that you were put in this position for such a time as this.”

“Could it be that I was given this opportunity to become a fighter pilot not just to achieve my dreams, but to be in a position to be the voice for these women who don’t have a voice?” McSally asked. “So I felt propelled, but I was really nervous. I mean, I just knew it wasn’t going to go over well. I knew there was going to be a lot of people that were going to be upset.”

In the upcoming special election, it remains to be seen how McSally will wrestle with the current disparity at the polls. McSally described politics as one of the most frustrating things she has taken on so far.

“I can’t stand the politics, actually. But I have to put up with the politics in order to serve and make a difference,” she said. “My hope is that the people of Arizona can see my heart.”

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren says her oldest brother died of coronavirus

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, a US senator from Massachusetts, speaks during a campaign event in March 2019.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

In the late 1960s, Warren attended George Washington University on a debate scholarship. She dropped out after two years to get married, but she graduated from the University of Houston in 1970.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren holds her newborn daughter, Amelia, in 1971. She and her first husband, Jim Warren, had two children before divorcing in 1980.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren with her three brothers — Don, John and David — in 1980. After graduating from college, Warren worked as a speech pathologist at a New Jersey elementary school. She then got a law degree and taught at the Rutgers School of Law before becoming a professor at the University of Houston Law Center. She’s also been a professor at the University of Texas Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Harvard Law School.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren teaches at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in the early 1990s.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

US Sen. Barack Obama listens to Warren speak during a roundtable discussion about predatory lending in 2008. Warren is an expert on bankruptcy law and was an adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission in the 1990s. In 1989, Warren co-authored the book “As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America.”

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren takes her seat to testify before the House Budget Committee in 2009. The United States was battling a recession at the time, and Warren had been appointed to a congressional oversight panel overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listen to President Barack Obama at the White House in September 2010. Obama was appointing Warren to be his assistant and special adviser to the Treasury Secretary in order to launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren had long called for a federal agency designed to protect consumers from fraudulent or misleading financial products.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren and US Sen. Scott Brown, right, make fun of each other during an annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Boston. Warren announced in 2011 that she would be challenging Brown for his Senate seat..

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren speaks to constituents at a campaign event in Scituate, Massachusetts, in May 2012.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren takes a morning walk with her dog Otis on the Harvard University Business School campus in May 2012.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren stands with family members after giving a speech in Springfield, Massachusetts, in June 2012. Warren has several grandchildren.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

President Barack Obama greets Warren at a fundraiser in Boston in June 2012.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren speaks at the Democratic National Convention in September 2012.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren greets supporters during a campaign event at Boston University.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren takes the stage after defeating Brown for a Senate seat in November 2012.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren listens during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in May 2013.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren meets with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in April 2016.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren campaigns with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

In January 2017, Warren posted this photo of her and Obama together. Obama was leaving after two terms as President.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren and other Democrats listen as President Donald Trump speaks to a joint session of Congress in February 2017.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

US Sen. Bob Corker talks with Warren during a Senate committee hearing in June 2017.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren runs down Boston’s Clarendon Street waving to crowds during the annual Boston Pride Parade in June 2018.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren and US Sen. Susan Collins ride the Senate subway in June 2018.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren is seen in the sunglasses of Arian Rustemi during a rally in Boston in June 2018. Warren was calling for the swift reunification of children and parents who had been separated at the US-Mexico border.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren helps Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams make calls to voters in October 2018.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

A Warren figurine sits in the back pocket of Mary Jo Kane during a town-hall event in Boston in October 2018.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren was re-elected in 2018. Here, she is joined by her husband, Bruce Mann, as Vice President Mike Pence re-enacts her swearing-in.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren, her husband and dog Bailey attend an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, in January 2019. Warren had recently announced that she was forming an exploratory committee for the 2020 presidential race.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren speaks in Columbia, South Carolina, in January 2019.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren looks down at the crowd in Lawrence, Massachusetts, before formally announcing her presidential bid in February 2019.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren answers questions at a town-hall event in Jackson, Mississippi, in March 2019.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren makes a pinky promise with 8-year-old Sydney Hansen during a campaign stop in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in July 2019.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren makes her signature “pinky promise” during a campaign event in Lebanon, New Hampshire, in February 2020.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren speaks at her Super Tuesday rally in Detroit in March 2020.

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

Warren acknowledges supporters as she arrives to speak to the media outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in March 2020. She had just dropped out of the presidential race.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s brother dies of coronavirus

Don Reed Herring, a veteran and the oldest brother of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, died of coronavirus, the senator announced Thursday.

Herring died Tuesday evening, Warren said in a statement. He was 86.

“He was charming and funny, a natural leader,” Warren tweeted. “What made him extra special was his smile — quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him.”

Herring joined the Air Force at age 19 and spent his career serving in the military, including “five and a half years off and on in combat in Vietnam,” Warren said.

Warren thanked the medical staff who cared for her brother as he battled COVID-19 — and detailed the sadness of the family being kept apart at the end by the restrictions wrought by the highly contagious disease.

“I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time — and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close,” Warren said. “I’ll miss you dearly my brother.”

Herring is survived by Warren and their two siblings, John and David Herring. All three brothers served in the military, and all three lived in Oklahoma.

The Massachusetts senator spoke often and fondly of her brothers on the presidential campaign trail, though they were largely unseen — appearing with her in a family video and when she stumped through Oklahoma. She often drew on the siblings’ political differences to argue how she could bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans.

“Two of my three brothers are Republicans. And sure, there are a lot of things we disagree on,” Warren said during a January debate. “But the truth is, there’s a whole lot we agree on.”

Herring’s passing drew an outpouring of support for Warren from her former 2020 Democratic rivals and her fellow Bay Staters.

 

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Obama called Trump a ‘fascist’ during phone call, Sen. Kaine says in new Clinton film

Barack Obama called Donald Trump a “fascist” in a phone conversation with Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia during the 2016 presidential election, Kaine says in a video clip featured in an upcoming documentary about Hillary Clinton.

Kaine, Clinton’s running mate on the Democratic ticket, recounts the call during an exchange with Clinton that was caught on camera in 2016. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, was also present.

“President Obama called me last night and said: ‘Tim, remember, this is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House,'” Kaine says before adding with a laugh that Obama “knows me and he knows that I could tend to err.”

Clinton replies, nodding, “I echo that sentiment.”

She then puts her hands to her chest and says, “But that’s really — the weight of our responsibility is so huge.”

The clip appears in an episode of “Hillary,” a four-part documentary series that will be available on Hulu on March 6. The docuseries, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday at a screening Clinton was scheduled to attend, chronicles her early life, rise to national prominence and political career.

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NBC News was given access to the series this week. Nanette Burstein, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who directed “Hillary,” confirmed in an email that the clip of Kaine was recorded by a camera team hired by the Clinton campaign.

The date and location of the conversation are not clear.

Obama has rarely publicly attacked Trump since leaving office, and his description of Trump as a fascist — as recalled by Kaine — is a far sharper attack than he offered in public during or after the campaign.

In a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Obama said “homegrown demagogues” were among the political forces threatening American values — a comment some interpreted as a veiled swipe at Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee.

And Obama has criticized some of Trump’s policy decisions, such as pulling out of the Paris climate accords, and implicitly jabbed at the president’s habits, saying leaders should avoid social media.

Hillary Clinton and 2016 Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine attend together a campaign rally in Miami on July 23, 2016.Alexander Tamargo / WireImage

Obama’s communications director declined to comment about the documentary when contacted by NBC News on Friday. Kaine’s office and Clinton’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

“Hillary” made headlines this week after The Hollywood Reporter said the series featured clips of Clinton bashing Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., her opponent in the bitter Democratic primary battle.

“Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician,” Clinton says in a wide-ranging interview recorded for the series. “It was all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

The series features other notable comments from Clinton, who speaks candidly about Trump, as well as her tenure as first lady in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, and the various challenges of her years in the national spotlight.

Trump’s campaign: “He entered the campaign with such negative energy, so much vitriol … He clearly felt comfortable attacking women, relished in denigrating women.”

The second 2016 debate: “(Trump) was stalking me. He was leering over me. He was sort of preening like an alpha male. I knew he was doing it. I was well aware of it, so I was trying to figure out: What do I do? If I wheeled around and I said, ‘Back up, you creep, you’re not going to intimidate me,’ would I sound angry, and would people recoil from that because all he’s doing is just standing there?

Her defeat: “I went in and laid down on the bed in the bedroom and I was just, like, bewildered and astonished. I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute, what is happening?’ I mean, I’ve been in lots of elections and I didn’t see this coming.”

The morning after: “I was totally emotionally wrecked. I felt like I’d let everybody down. I felt like … I worried that he wouldn’t rise to the occasion, that all the forces he’d unleashed had been rewarded. It made me sick to my stomach. It didn’t make sense.”

The Lewinsky scandal, Bill’s confession: “I was just devastated. I could not believe it. I was so personally hurt and, you know, ‘I can’t believe this, I can’t believe you lied.’ It was horrible and I said, ‘If this is gonna be public, you’ve got to go tell Chelsea.'”

Her husband’s impeachment: “I had the extra burden of having been on the impeachment staff back in 1974 (during Watergate). I had done the research about what is a high crime or misdemeanor. I knew what the standards of impeachment were. I knew this did not meet it. He shouldn’t have done what he did. He shouldn’t have tried to hide it. But it was not an impeachable offense.”