WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) claim that President Barack Obama is to blame for the Orlando, Florida, massacre is turning into a fund-raising boon for his Democratic challenger, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
McCain told reporters Thursday that Obama was "directly responsible" for the shooting, then released a statement saying he "misspoke" and meant to say Obama's policies are to blame, not the president himself. McCain explained that he believes Obama is responsible for the growth of the Islamic State -- to which the Orlando shooter pledged allegiance -- because of the way Obama ended the Iraq war and because McCain thinks Obama has not responded aggressively enough to the Syrian crisis.
Regardless of his partial retraction, though, the veteran senator's words sparked outrage, moving people to open their wallets for Kirkpatrick. According to her campaign, at least $100,000 flooded into its accounts.
"John McCain's reckless and appalling comments about the Orlando mass shooting disappointed thousands of Arizonans and people from across the nation," said Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell. "But his actions are just further proof that after 33 years in Washington McCain has changed, and now Americans are witnessing that he's no longer a 'maverick.'
"Arizonans know it's time for new principled leadership, and that's why Ann Kirkpatrick saw the largest one-day fundraising number of the campaign," Mitchell added.
The spokesman's words echoed a fundraising appeal the campaign sent out Friday afternoon to capitalize further on McCain's misstep.
"We need a senator who will put our national security before partisan politics," said the appeal to supporters. "We must do everything we can to elect Ann to the Senate and we are asking you to make a donation today."
The McCain campaign did not immediately answer emails about the Kirkpatrick campaign's charges.