Image: AP

Kelli Ward, an Arizona Republican running for Senate in a crowded primary field, is touring the state with Mike Cernovich, a man perhaps best known for his pro-rape writings, his enthusiasm for the Pizzagate conspiracy, and his belief that diversity is “code for white genocide.”

This week, NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard asked Ward about Cernovich’s views on the latter, to which Ward replied, with a big smile on her face, that “attaching those things to me is ridiculous.”

She then blamed the media for her decision to invite a racist, misogynistic conspiracy theorist to tour around the state with her.

“We need to have a hook to get you guys interested in seeing the bus tour,” she said. “Just having a great candidate isn’t always enough for the media, sadly. You need someone to spin things up, and you guys have bitten. And I’m glad! I appreciate you, because I’m glad you guys are going to be following along and seeing what’s happening in the state.” Fuck? Off?

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Vaughn later asked Ward about outgoing Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a vocal Trump critic who still votes with Trump basically all the time. Ward called Flake a disgrace, saying Arizona deserves someone better and “cut from a different cloth than Flake and John McCain.”

“Are John McCain and Jeff Flake bigger disgraces than Mike Cernovich?” asked Vaughn.

“It depends on who’s looking, I guess,” said Ward. “I’m pretty disturbed that we have two elected officials that we haven’t been able to count on.”

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Here are just a few choice quotes from Cernovich’s profile on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website:

“Rape via an alpha male is different from other forms of rape. We can’t really understand this, as our culture is too detached from instinct.”

—Twitter, September 2013

“Today we have a moment of silence for Trayvon Martin’s rape victims. Kidding! He got got before he was able to rape anyone.”

—Twitter, February 2016

“Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love Black women, slut shame them.”

—Twitter, February 2016

Congratulations to Kelli Ward.