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John McCain's family slams GOP group for using footage of him in campaign ads

The late senator's family took issue with the way his image was being "weaponized" in political attack ads.
by Frank Thorp V, Alex Moe and Daniel Arkin /
Image: John McCain
In this file photo taken US Republican presidential candidate John McCain, from center, speaks during a rally with his wife Cindy (R) and daughter Meghan (L) in Springfield, Virginia on November 1, 2008.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

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The family of John McCain sharply rebuked the National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday for releasing political advertisements that use footage of the late senator to attack Democratic candidates in Arizona and Michigan.

"The McCain family believes it's unfortunate that the senator's image is being weaponized this election season," a family spokesperson told NBC News in a statement. "They hope that there would be more respect, especially so soon after his passing."

The first ad goes after Ann Kirkpatrick, the Democratic nominee for Arizona's 2nd congressional district. The spot features a clip of McCain slamming Kirkpatrick over her positions on economic issues during her unsuccessful bid for his U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

"Ann Kirkpatrick won't oppose higher taxes, she won't oppose more federal spending and she won't oppose increased debts that slow economic growth," McCain says in the clip, before a narrator adds: "In 2016, Senator McCain warned us..."

The second ad targets Elissa Slotkin, the Democratic nominee for Michigan's 8th congressional district. The clip features a video of McCain criticizing Slotkin during a Senate hearing at which she was a witness.

"Miss Slotkin, you either don't know the truth, or you are not telling the truth," McCain says in the clip. The ad later flashes a quote from a December 2014 news article in which McCain said Slotkin was "totally unqualified" to become the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs at the Pentagon.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee told NBC News that the "ad speaks for itself."

McCain, widely regarded as an independent voice in the Republican Party, died on Aug. 25, little more than a year after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He was 81.

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