John McCain Takes A Beating
The 2010 Arizona Senatorial debate was held last night in Phoenix. It lasted all of 60 minutes (with four participants) and it will be the only debate at which Sen. John McCain will deign to appear. 60 minutes for a 6-year term? Easy peasy.
McCain has clearly decided that the only issue on the minds of Arizona voters this year is immigration. But the same Senator that in 2006 coauthored a comprehensive immigration bill with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, now says we can’t even talk about that until we “secure the border.” Apparently, McCain’s position on Immigration now boils down to building “the dang fence.” John McCain, for his part, only wanted to talk about his shiny 10-point plan for border security; so immigration dominated the debate.
Democratic challenger Rodney Glassman landed quite a few good blows, if not a total knock-out. Glassman repeatedly hit McCain with substantive criticism of policy effecting Arizona. He cited the Senator’s lackluster performance on unemployment and jobs policy, the wide-spread foreclosure crisis, education and energy independence. Best line of the night?
“If we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to reduce the number of our senators dependent on fossil fuel contributions.” – Rodney Glassman
When the debate veered into other territory, it was notable for some interesting flubs on the sitting Senator’s part. Asked to compare his own legislative legacy to that of legendary Arizona senators Carl Hayden (Central Arizona Project) and Ernest McFarland (original GI Bill), McCain fumbled and ended up citing his “reputation” rather than any actual legislative accomplishments. The man who has received a Zero score from the League of Conservation Voters, called himself “the Grand Canyon’s greatest friend.” He also proclaimed his desire to keep “Arizona the most beautiful nation on earth.”
Regarding tax policy, the man who voted against the Bush Tax Cuts, famously calling them “a disgrace”, now has backed himself into such a corner during his primary battle that he now says it would be “foolish” to allow them to expire.
Rodney Glassman, needing to make an impression, as this is his only opportunity to confront the incumbent, needled McCain on everything from the number of votes he missed during the 2008 Presidential campaign, to his infamous bad temper. McCain ignored these remarks.
Glassman’s most effective moment came when he said his own campaign
“is about having someone who will work with everyone to find solutions – not just serve as a partisan battering ram trying to accomplish nothing except self-aggrandizement and furthering their political future.”
Green Party candidate Jerry Joslyn got in a few swipes, too, calling McCain:
“the most pro-war senator we’ve had for a long time.” Nolan, noting McCain’s past bipartisan efforts on campaign finance and immigration, added: “Let’s face it. John McCain is no consistent defender of our liberties.”
As the incumbent, McCain should have been prepared for these attacks, but considering the short 60 minute format of the debate, he was able to mostly ignore his opponents’ barbs and dismiss them simply as “biased.” Rodney Glassman did call out McCain for his refusal to debate further, calling it “disrespectful” to voters to grant them 60 minutes for another 6 years.
While there were Green Party and Libertarian candidates present, this was a debate between Democrat Rodney Glassman and incumbent Senator John McCain. In the Republican primary debate, McCain handily put challenger J.D. Hayworth away; but last night Glassman more than held his own, and McCain came out a bit bloodied. Here’s hoping enough independent voters saw what I did to make a difference in November.