John McCain administered the oath of reenlistment to Staff Sgt. James P. Daponte during the Senator's visit to Yuma on Friday (7-17-09). Daponte requested McCain swear him in after finding out about his visit. Video by James Gilbert and Anne Slagill
|McCain on military|
Senator John McCain discusses Yuma's military installations, the war in Afghanistan, and post traumatic stress distorder in the military. Video by Anne Slagill and Janet Chasse
|McCain on Yuma|
Sen. John McCain visited Yuma Friday (7-17-09) to meet with local leaders and tour area projects. Video by Anne Slagill and James Gilbert
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Sen. McCain visits MCAS Yuma
A Yuma Marine took advantage of Arizona Sen. John McCain's visit to the air station Friday to have the senator re-enlist him to another term in the Corps.
When Staff Sgt. James P. Daponte, who has served 15 years in the Corps, found out that McCain was going be in Yuma, he asked permission to have the senator administer to him the oath re-enlistment.
McCain agreed and conducted the ceremony on base in an office in front of a small group of Daponte's friends, family members and co-workers. He works as an electronic key management system manager at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
Prior to the ceremony, McCain spoke to the media on several subjects, including President Barack Obama's proposal to send 1,500 National Guard soldiers to shore up the border.
"The governors of California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have asked for the Guard to be on the border and I have strongly supported that for a long time," McCain said. "I think that former Gov. Janet Napolitano understands and we are very hopeful we will have a Guard presence on the border."
McCain said the presence of the Guard will not only help prevent the violence in Mexico from spilling across the border, but will also take some pressure off of the Border Patrol and U.S. Customs.
"When the bad guys see Americans in uniform, it has an effect on them, no doubt about it," McCain said. "But also there is work that Guard personnel could do to relieve the burden from Border Patrol and Customs."
That being said, McCain added that cooperation with Mexico on border issues will continue to be important.
As part of his trip to Yuma, McCain also met with area growers, who expressed their concerns over not having a legal temporary workers program.
"I had to tell them the truth that the unions have so much influence now in this administration that it's not likely that we will get a legal temporary workers program," McCain said, "but that I will continue to do everything I can to get it."
Also as part of his trip, McCain toured the border, the new port of entry being built in San Luis, and was briefed by Border Patrol and Customs officials .
"We obviously need to expand the facilities to improve the flow of goods and traffic across the border," McCain said. "The Border Patrol is also still greatly concerned about the increase in violence on the other side of the border."
Asked about what he thought the strategy should be in Afghanistan after the recent influx of Marines, McCain he felt confident in the military leadership in place.
"Casualties, as we know, are tragically going up. We are in the midst of an effort to gain control of a part of Afghanistan that wasn't previously under our control. Our troops are going to hold and control these southern provinces so we can succeed the same way the surge did in Iraq.
"But," he added, "it's going to come at a very heavy cost in American blood."
While he is in favor of some form of national health care reform, McCain said he is dead set against it as it is currently and doesn't think the president has enough support to get it passed.
"The Congressional Budget Office issued a report (Thursday) that was devastating, saying the plan wasn't going to insure everyone and did not include a cost saving measure," McCain said. "The problem with health care in America isn't the quality. It's the best in the world. It's the cost of the care. This proposal does nothing to address the cost of care."
As for the future of the Republican Party, McCain said it needs to get its act together before it can regain any of the seats in Congress it lost in the 2008 election.
"I know America is a right-of-center nation. This administration is governing from the far left. We have to continue to articulate our message more effectively."
Also, while at MCAS Yuma, McCain was briefed about where the base was at in its process of receiving the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. MCAS Yuma is the first air station in the country to receive the state-of-the-art jet fighter.