Arizona Democratic chair criticized for saying Trump has ‘aligned himself with ISIS’

2019-10-31 21:38:21

PHOENIX – Hours before President Donald Trump announced the death of the leader of ISIS, the chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party said in public remarks that Trump had aligned himself with the terrorist organization.

The Arizona Republican Party hit Felecia Rotellini on Tuesday for her ill-timed remark at Saturday’s “We the Voters Conference” hosted by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission in downtown Phoenix. 

During a panel discussion, Rotellini explained why she thought people will show up to vote in 2020.  

Felecia Rotellini
Felecia Rotellini

“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 Kelli Ward, who was part of the same panel, immediately interjected. “I have to say that is not true. That is not true,” Ward said as Rotellini tried to continue.

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‘Poor choice of words’

The remarks came as American forces began a raid in Syria that trapped Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted terrorist, who blew himself up in a tunnel, along with three children, according to Trump’s telling of al-Baghdadi’s final moments.

“It was a poor choice of words,” Matt Grodsky, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party, said in an email to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday. 

Grodsky said the comments 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, who has had more than a few cringe-inducing remarks of her own, hit back at Rotellini for what she viewed as slanderous comments.

“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.

“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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Comment stems from Syrian troop withdrawal

Rotellini’s comment came as people across the political spectrum wrestled with Trump’s decision to withdraw at least some troops from northern Syria after the Turkish offensive into the territory previously held by Kurds aligned with the U.S.

Democrats and Republicans alike said the move empowered ISIS and sent a bad message to U.S. allies.

Trump gained a measure of redemption with the announcement Sunday that al-Baghdadi was dead.

The credit has proven fleeting for the administration, amid reports that Trump’s withdrawal orders forced the Pentagon to speed up the long-planned raid on al-Baghdadi’s location.

The New York Times reported that U.S. officials determined his whereabouts with a tip and collaboration with Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officials.

Follow Ronald J. Hansen on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Felecia Rotellini, Arizona Dem. chair, said Trump ‘aligned’ with ISIS

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