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Arizona Governor Unveils Painting To Honor Kayla Mueller

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By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- With her parents at his side, Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled a painting Thursday designed to honor the memory of slain ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller.

Ducey said the painting -- actually a high-definition giclee reproduction -- will hang at the Capitol as a reminder of the work the 26-year-old Prescott woman did in the war-torn areas of Syria and Turkey. She was held for more than a year and raped and tortured by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before being killed.

"As Kayla showed us, sometimes the greatest heroes wear no uniform at all,'' the governor said.
But the event had overt political overtones.
It was held one day into early voting in Arizona, not at the Capitol but at the National Guard air base backed by a multi-story American flag.

The keynote speaker was Robert C. Obrien, national security advisor to President Trump. And he spoke repeatedly of all of the activities the administration was doing to keep the country safe.
"Know that President Trump will remain vigilant,'' he told his audience.
Ducey also praised the president's activities.

Martha McSally, involved in a tough race to keep her U.S. Senate seat, sang the national anthem.
And the Muellers themselves have injected themselves into the presidential race.

They have been critical of the Obama administration for not doing more to rescue their daughter.
"Our government let us down,'' Carl Mueller said when he was allowed to speak at this year's Republican convention.

And her story came up during the vice presidential debate Wednesday.

"Her family says with a heart that broke the heart of every American that if President Donald Trump had been president they believe Kayla would be alive today,'' Mike Pence said.

That clearly was planned: Pence had invited Carl and Marsha to the Salt Lake City debate. He also gave them a ride back to Arizona -- and directly to the Air National Guard terminal where Thursday's event was being held -- on Air Force Two as he was flying in for his own campaign event.

And Carl Mueller at Thursday's even praised the 2019 raid that killed Al-Baghdadi, saying the Trump administration acted "decisively and quickly.''
But Ducey bristled Thursday at a question about whether the event, the speeches and its timing was political.

"Shame on you,'' the governor responded.

"This event was put in motion with the agreement of the parents without any concern around the day except the date they could do it,'' Ducey said.

Her father related how the unit that killed Al-Baghdadi purposely named itself Task Force 814, the numbers referring to her Aug. 14 birthday.

The painting actually predates the events surrounding Kayla's capture.
Named "Into the Breach,'' the 2013 work by Stuart Brown depicts members of the 75th Ranger Regiment on a night combat operation in Afghanistan. Brown agreed to donate this giclee print to the family.

Carl Mueller said the governor's agreement to have it hang at the Capitol will inspire people "to learn Kayla's story ... so that this will never happen to another American again.''