"We've got to make some tough decisions," U.S. Senator John McCain told more than 200 Rim country residents at the Natural Resources Town Hall Saturday afternoon.
McCain was referring to federal subsidies of more than $200 million a year to Sunkist and other major corporations to help them sell their products overseas.
The Senator would return again and again to the theme of "tough decisions" as he answered questions posed by residents who attended the event at Gila Community College.
Another theme that ran through much of what McCain said was that Washington simply doesn't get it.
"The system in Washington is broken," he responded to a question about a bill authorizing a $136 billion in tax breaks.
"The gravy train was leaving the station. It was the no lobbyist left behind act and every lobbyist in Washington got their goodies."
Other McCain responses on some of the subjects raised by Rim country residents:
• On the price of oil surpassing $55 a barrel:
"We're not doing enough. We're going to have to make some tough decisions. We've got to have hydrogen in use for cars. If you bought a Hummer for $100,000, you can write that off in taxes in just four years. Why do we encourage people to buy an automobile that gets five miles to the gallon. It's crazy.
"If you took every program on water, wind, solar, all of those, it would only account for a small percentage of what we need to take care of our energy needs, so we're gong to have to make some even tougher decisions, and we may not be able to drive as big or as powerful an automobile as we used to."
• On the 2004 election campaign:
"I think these campaigns have gotten completely out of hand.
"The day that the voters reject these kinds of campaigns and reject the candidates who use these tactics will be the day they stop using them. We've got to demand better and higher quality campaigns."
• On running for president in 2008:
"(Former U.S. Rep.) Mo Udall once said, ‘If you're a U.S. Senator, unless you're under indictment or detoxification you automatically consider yourself a candidate for president.' (But) in 2008 I'll be 2008. It's not ruled out, but I'm very happy where I am."
• Excessive drug company profits:
"The (prescription drug) bill that we passed was a disgrace for two reasons.
"One, it prohibits the importation of prescription drugs from Canada or from Europe.
"Two, it prohibits Medicare from negotiating with drug companies for lower drug prices.
"I tell my colleagues in the Senate, ‘My constituents aren't going to Canada; they're going to Mexico.' That's disgraceful, because if they don't, they make a choice between eating and paying for their prescription drugs.
"The health care costs in America are probably the most daunting challenge we face."
• Immigration reform:
"I believe our first priorities in the next year are budget discipline, Social Security, Medicare, and immigration reform.
"We need to have an orderly process where we identify jobs that Americans won't do.
"You bring in somebody who will do those jobs because you make an agreement with Mexico. They do those jobs and they go home."
Also appearing with McCain was Arizona House Speaker Jake Flake.