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Why Kari Lake Is Trying to Make Nice With the McCains

The Lake-McCain feud boiled over this week. The Senate hopeful wants to cool it down.

Republican candidate Kari Lake told Meghan McCain she'd love for them to work together — McCain was not interested.
Republican Kari Lake is making a bid for the U.S. Senate after a failed run for governor. Ross D. Franklin/AP

Arizona Republicans are coming to terms with the fact that Donald Trump’s feud with John McCain and his family is bad politics for the party.

Over the last few months, Senate hopeful Kari Lake has made overtures to the McCain family, a 180-degree turn from saying the late senator’s backers should “get the hell out” of a campaign event when she was running for governor. This week, she tried to walk back that comment and others, saying they were made in jest — only to get hit back with a “no peace, bitch” response from Meghan McCain.

There’s a clear reason why Lake is making these appeals: “She needs McCain supporters,” said a prominent Arizona Republican who supports Lake and requested anonymity to speak about her campaign. “Trump needs them too.”

While McCain is still a reviled figure among many pro-Trump Arizona Republicans, the state’s close split between Democrats and Republicans means that Lake needs all the votes she can get in her bid for Senate after a failed try for governor.

“There is a lot of commonality between the McCain faction and the MAGA faction,” the prominent Republican said, adding that the fight is over 10 to 15% of voters.

Meghan McCain theorized that Lake’s comments about her father were motivated by politics.

“I think there is some kind of data that they’ve seen … that shows there’s a giant swath of Arizonans who will never vote for this woman in no small part because of how much she has attacked my dad who is a beloved Arizona icon,” McCain said Wednesday on KTAR News’ “Outspoken With Bruce and Gaydos,” the same show Lake appeared on earlier in the week.

“We are not MAGA, ‘dear leader,’ Kim Jong Un, Trump people,” McCain added. “I think her and her team have had a very, very cataclysmic misunderstanding of the people that we are, the kind of Republicans that we are and the amount of support my dad still has even five years in death.”

Lake tried to make amends on X in response to McCain’s posts, responding: “I value you. I value your family and I value the passion you have for our state. I’d love nothing more than to buy you a beer, a coffee or lunch and pick your brain about how we can work together to strengthen our state.”

The Lake campaign told NOTUS that she is seeking to unite the party.

“Kari Lake is focused on uniting Republicans in Arizona and defeating Biden and [Democratic candidate Ruben] Gallego come November. She will work with any Republican who wants to make Arizona a better state,” a Lake spokesperson told NOTUS.

The prominent Republican Lake backer noted that there has not always been bad blood between the two Republican factions, noting that Trump endorsed McCain in 2016.

“Trump has tried to make peace … but no one talks about the other side slapping it down,” the Republican said.

Tara Kavaler is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.