Sen. John McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer blew through Payson Saturday afternoon like a monsoon, rallying supporters with calls to seal the border and repeal “Obamacare” before they quickly exited after speeches that lasted just over half an hour.
Their brief campaign stop at the packed Best Western meeting room capped a whirlwind of weekend campaign stops. On Saturday alone, the Republican duo visited Lake Havasu in the morning and Pinetop-Lakeside in the afternoon before traveling to Payson. For lunch, McCain and Brewer stopped off at the venerable steakhouse Charley Clark’s in Pinetop, eating with state senate candidate Bill Konopnicki, where they discussed the economy, rural Arizona and the border.
Both face re-election bids. Most of the Republican primary field dropped out of the governor’s race after Brewer signed the immigration bill, and she now leads presumptive Democratic nominee Attorney General Terry Goddard in polls.
Similarly, McCain holds leads over Republican challenger J.D. Hayworth and likely Democratic challenger Rodney Glassman, according to Rasmussen polls.
McCain, wearing a dress shirt without a jacket and a Navy baseball cap strode into the Best Western, cheering Brewer’s recent clash with the federal government over immigration — “you know who she stood up to,” he said, referencing the man who beat him in the last presidential election.
McCain hammed it up, telling jokes and making wild hand gestures. “Come November, we’re going to change Arizona,” he shouted as the crowd cheered.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans told a story about a younger McCain campaigning in Yuma.
Evans encountered McCain as McCain sought a drink of cold water, “which wasn’t unusual.”
What was unusual, were the holes worn through the bottom of McCain’s shoes walking around Yuma seeking votes. Since then, McCain “has not been any less of a ferocious campaigner,” said Evans.
McCain took center stage, announcing, “We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” as the crowd went wild. He denounced the national debt, saying, “we have done a terrible thing, this administration.”
Then, Brewer took center stage in her bid to keep the gubernatorial seat she succeeded to after former Gov. Janet Napolitano took over the Department of Homeland Security.
“I wish it would have been as bad as I thought it was going to be,” quipped Brewer. “It has been worse.”
She said that she has cut $2.2 billion from a $10 billion budget, which she called the “largest streamlining” in Arizona history.
At times during the rally, Brewer’s voice went hoarse, which she attributed to all the screaming at similar events.
She said she has halted state Department of Commerce rules to “get government out of the way and let business thrive,” and joined the federal lawsuit against the recent health care reform legislation.
She also mentioned her recent signing of immigration bill SB 1070. “If the federal government won’t do their job, Arizona will, because the people of Arizona are not quitters,” she said. “A country without borders is like a house without walls — it collapses,” Brewer added.
Sarah Sahno said she thought Brewer, “seems to be on the right track.”
Payson resident John Lutz said he appreciated Brewer’s stance on the key issue of immigration. “That’s why I gave her my vote,” he said.