The last Republican to run against Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) called on him to step down "as quickly as possible" following his Wednesday cancer diagnosis.
Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) in the 2018 Republican primary and made her comments about McCain on an Indiana talk radio show Thursday, CNN reports. A surgeon and former state senator, Ward argued that advancing the federal government's business and President Donald Trump's agenda gave McCain reason to step aside.
"I hope that Senator McCain is going to look long and hard at this, that his family and his advisers are going to look at this, and they're going to advise him to step away as quickly as possible, so that the business of the country and the business of Arizona being represented at the federal level can move forward," she said.
"Because you probably realize that with John McCain out of commission we don't have 51 votes on the Republican side," she said, despite the fact that Republicans do, in fact, have 51 votes without McCain. "That can't stand."
"We can't have until the 2018 election, waiting around to accomplish the Trump agenda, to secure the border and stop illegal immigration and repeal Obamacare and fix the economy and fix the veterans administration," she said. "All those things need to be done, and we can't be at a standstill while we wait for John McCain to determine what he's going to do."
She said it was unlikely that a "miracle" would heal McCain, although she also stated she did not want to presume without the senator's medical exams.
"I would never presume to say what someone's prognosis is without having exams," she said. "As a Christian, I know there can always be miracles. But the likelihood that John McCain is going to come back to the Senate and be at full force for the people of our state and the people of the United States is low."
Ward has been supported by the White House in her bid to unseat Flake, who has been critical of Trump, CNN reported Tuesday. She also suggested that Gov. Doug Ducey (R.) consider appointing her in McCain's place to serve until 2018, when she could run to retain McCain's seat.
"Well, you know, I certainly hope so, because I have a proven track record of years in the state senate of being extremely effective and of listening to the voice of the people that I represent," she said when asked about taking McCain's seat.
"And you know, I made an extremely good showing against Senator McCain against all odds," she added, before criticizing how McCain's campaign ran against her.
"You know, he outspent me nearly 10 to 1," she said about their 2016 race. "He has a super PAC called Grassroots Action PAC that spent over 10 million dollars seeking to destroy my character, my reputation, and my political future."
McCain's representative did not immediately reply to CNN's request for comment. Flake criticized Ward's comments Friday.
"John McCain is a fighter and an American hero. I fully expect to see him back in the Senate soon," Flake told CNN. "I'm dumbstruck by Kelli Ward's comments."