Kari Lake's latest rehabilitation tour: McCain smear was just a joke. Riiiight

U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake answers questions during a press conference on Feb. 7, 2024, at her headquarters in Phoenix.
U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake answers questions during a press conference on Feb. 7, 2024, at her headquarters in Phoenix.
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Attention all you Arizona moderates. Kari Lake was just joking when she told supporters of the late Sen. John McCain to “get the hell out” of one of her campaign events during her run for governor.

And when she called McCain loser? I know. Hilarious stuff.

“It was said in jest,” Lake explained, during a Monday interview on KTAR, “and I think if John McCain, who had a great sense of humor, would have heard it he would have laughed.”

Oh, I can just see him – being such a huge Trump fan and all – cracking up as Lake waxed on, during her campaign for governor, about how the about how the once-Grand Old Party was on "life support" in the days before Donald Trump became its savior.

“It was the party of Romney. It was the party of McCain. And it was, I know it was bad,” she told the booing crowd, making a face as if she'd just eaten a rotten tomato. “It was the party of Jeff Flake. Boy, Arizona has delivered some losers, haven’t they?

“But we have some winners as well. We have Wendy Rogers, right there.”

Laugh riot is also known as Lake's rehabilitation tour

OK, I can believe she was joking about that last part.

Sen. Rogers is easily the kookiest legislator ever elected in Arizona. She lauds white nationalists as “patriots,” rants about election conspiracies and spins fantastical tales about George Soros and the cabal of Jews, journalists, political elites and other nefarious characters who plot to create a New World Order.

And she's a winner while McCain's a loser?

Lake made her just-joking-about-McCain remark during a wide ranging, eye popping interview Monday with KTAR’s Barry Markson and Bruce St. James.

Or as I call it, the latest stop on the Kari Lake Rehabilitation Tour, the one that’s supposed to convince the moderate Republican and GOP-leaning independents who made Democrat Katie Hobbs governor that she’s a new and improved Lake — one they should send to the U.S. Senate.

Sadly, Markson and St. James didn’t ask Lake about whether she was also joking months after calling McCain a loser, when she celebrated her win the 2022 primary win by proclaiming, “We drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine."

But they did ask her about abortion and whether she still believes, as she did just two years ago, that Arizona’s 1864 law that made abortion a crime is still a “great law."

Her miraculous pivots include her stance on abortion

Come back with me now to February 2022, when Lake was rooting for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade so that Arizona’s territorial-era law – the one that criminalizes abortion even in cases of rape and incest – could make a comeback.

“I have a good feeling that they’re going to do the right thing,” she said of the Supreme Court during a Republican candidate forum. “We have a great law on the books right now, if that happens, we will be a state where we will not be taking the lives of our unborn anymore.”

In those days, Lake called abortion the “ultimate sin” and extolled the virtues of Texas’ “heartbeat law” that all but banned it.

And now, as a ballot initiative is under way asking voters to enshrine abortion a constitutional right in Arizona?

“I would support what the people of Arizona support,” she said on Monday.

Going from a nationwide ban to abortion-pill access

Unless, apparently, the people support continued use of the abortion pill that is used by half of all Arizona women who terminate their pregnancies.

When asked Monday – yes or no – whether she would vote for a nationwide ban on the abortion pill, here is Lake’s answer:

“I don’t think that women should be taking a pill at home and risking hemorrhaging,” she said. “I care about women. I care about women’s health.”

The American Medical Association says it’s “exceedingly rare” – as in .3% – for the abortion pill to cause serious complications that require hospitalization. The AMA puts the risk of patient death at “near zero.”

Did she suffer amnesia on stolen-election claims?

But perhaps Lake’s most jaw-dropping revelation came when discussing her signature issue – her supposedly stolen election for governor.

It seems Lake – who has spent 15 months fuming, filing lawsuits, accusing people of “rigging elections” and generally proclaiming herself to be Arizona’s legitimate governor – no longer wants to talk about it and in fact, isn’t really sure who stolen her election.

“I don’t want sit and look backwards,” Lake said.

Markson pressed: “Can you tell us who stole the election from you and how they did it?”

“I don’t know who exactly stole the election but there are a lot of people who are running elections poorly,” she replied.

You do know, Lake intends the joke to be on voters

This, no doubt, comes as a surprise to everybody in Maricopa County whom she has savaged but most especially Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer whom she has accused of criminal activity.

For 15 months, Lake has gone all scorched earth on elections workers in general and on Richer in particular, buying herself a defamation lawsuit along the way.

Lake has repeatedly said that Richer personally sabotaged the 2022 election by adding 300,000 phony ballots into the vote tally and that he intentionally set printers to shrink Election Day ballots so they couldn’t be counted.

She's been long on accusations but painfully short on anything approaching proof, which is why she lost her election challenge in court and every appeal thus far.

Yet now, suddenly, she says she doesn’t know how the election was stolen?

I think even John McCain would be laughing.

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on X, formerlyTwitter, at @LaurieRoberts or on Threads at laurierobertsaz.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kari Lake says blasting McCain was in jest. Now THAT's a joke