A friend of Barber’s, U.S. District Judge John Roll, almost certainly saved Barber’s life that day. Surveillance video showed that he pushed him to the ground, helped him crawl under a table, and laid on top of him. As he did so, Roll was shot in the back and killed.
McSally, who had just begun to teach at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Germany, learned of the shootings from her pastor, while watching the livestream of a Tucson church’s Sunday service.
When Barber announced that he would seek election to replace Giffords, much of what he said seemed an ode to his former boss. He said he wanted to “help restore civility to our public life.”
Of Giffords, he said, “We have a very strong bond. I’m a moderate, like she is.”
Barber’s wounds and his connection to Giffords are not, of course, a qualification for Congress. But a lot of people would have been content to let him have the job. Or they may have been too timid to challenge him. Jesse Kelly, the Iraq war veteran and tea-party favorite who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010, dropped out after he lost to Barber in the special election.
For better or worse, that is not how McSally is constructed. Her formerprofession, in some part, may explain that. In war, there are casualties. Losses are mourned, but sentiment is not part of the mission. She has never met Giffords or gone to look at the supermarket where so much carnage took place.
The rest of the explanation, the larger part, is McSally’s obvious relish for blazing the most difficult trails. She’s feisty and funny, blunt and occasionally profane.
When former Republican senator Rick Santorum took a stand against women in combat during his presidential bid, McSally went on television and said she “wanted to go kick him in the Jimmy” for saying that.
She went to a private lunch earlier this month to persuade an elusive donor to give to her campaign. “And I didn’t even have to give the pitch, because he said right away he was going to give me $2,500,” McSally recalled. “You know what I said? Are you married? Not because I wanted to date him! Because I wanted to know if he had a wife who could max out, too!”
Taking on politics
In her new career, it’s a great day when an attack ad is launched against you. It means somebody has decided it’s worth spending money to defeat you.
“I was . . . ooo, I’m almost a little afraid to look! My first attack ad!” McSally peers through her fingers as she campaigns before a dozen people in the housing business who are meeting at a local restaurant. The room breaks into laughter.