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Kyl, McCain stump for Flake at Yuma town hall
Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain were in Yuma Saturday to drum up votes for Congressman and fellow Republican Jeff Flake, who is running for a Senate seat against Democratic challenger Richard Carmona in a tight race.
Both Kyl and McCain gave high praise to Flake during a joint town hall at Booth Machinery attended by constituents and many prominent area officials including Yuma Mayor Al Krieger and Sheriff Ralph Ogden.
“I believe he is fully qualified to fill the shoes of one of our great senators we've ever had in the history of the state of Arizona, and I don't say that lightly,” McCain said about Flake. “I don't need someone named Carmona to cancel out my vote.”
Ensuring Flake fills his seat is an important matter to Kyl, who will retire at the end of this term after serving 18 years as a senator.
“You can tell that for me this election is pretty personal,” he said. “It really matters to me who takes my place. I don't want somebody who ... is going to undermine” everything McCain tries to do, “and isn't going to work with him to complete some of these projects in Arizona, and work on the important issues in Washington D.C.”
Kyl encouraged those in attendance to vote for both Republicans Mitt Romney and Flake in the upcoming election. He noted that without a Republican in the White House, or a majority in the Senate, the GOP would have difficulty furthering its agenda of repealing the Affordable Care Act, preventing cuts to the defense budget and crafting a balanced national budget.
“We tried for three and a half years to convince” Democratic President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “that we are going in the wrong direction,” said Flake, who has served as a U.S. Representative for Arizona's 6th congressional district since 2001.
“Do you know what the beauty of an election year is? You don't have to convince them anymore, you just have to replace them, and that's what we've got to do. With just over one week to go, it all comes out to turnout — who gets to the polls and votes.”
If Romney and Flake are not elected, McCain is concerned the GOP may not be able to prevent looming defense budget cuts as part of sequestration, which will have a disastrous impact on Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and Yuma Proving Ground, he said.
As part of sequestration, federal defense spending cuts will automatically take effect on Jan. 1. The process will require the Defense Department to reduce its budget by $500 billion over the next decade, in addition to $460 billion in cuts that were already planned.
“We have begged the president to sit down with us to prevent this,” McCain said. “We are willing to put everything on the table to prevent this devastating blow to our national security because our first obligation is our nation's security. The devastation that will take place here in Yuma, both at MCAS and at YPG, would be devastating. We can't let it happen.”
If Flake is elected and joins a Senate comprised of a majority of Republicans, “then we can move ahead and the community here will be protected,” Flake said.
Sequestration “cannot go into effect,” he continued. “We need to stop it. In the House of Representatives, we've dealt with that. We've said we will hit that budget target that will take the savings from elsewhere, not just the military. So the Senate needs to do what the House has already done.”
Flake will also work to balance the national budget, which will in turn create jobs in the Yuma community, he said.
“There is no way we will be able to grow this economy dragging around $16 trillion in debt. We've got to make sure the federal government lives within its means, and that it recognizes what drives this economy, and that is private sector growth.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.