The Republican Party’s harsh censure resolutions aimed at Sen. John McCain have set off a rash of inter-party polemics.
The Gila County Republican Party joined with the Maricopa County and the state Republican parties in censuring the party’s 2008 presidential nominee and the best-known politician in the state.
The Gila Party resolution said, “Senator McCain has amassed a long record of drafting, co-sponsoring and voting for legislation best associated with liberal Democrat interests, such as amnesty, funding for Obamacare, raising the debt ceiling, and continues to support liberal judicial nominees, while avoiding any defense of the liberal assaults on the Constitution and the Second Amendment.”
Therefore, the Gila County Republicans concluded, “until the senator consistently champions Republican principles and our party’s platform and values, we, the Gila County Republican Party in Arizona, will no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain.”
The language mirrored resolutions adopted by county party groups in Apache, Cochise, Mohave, Maricopa and Santa Cruz counties as well as the state party. The resolutions termed McCain’s record “disastrous and harmful.”
McCain, 77, called the suggestion he supported Obamacare “bizarre” and the attack by the party “regrettable” but not detrimental, according to an article in Politico.
McCain sharply criticized the House Republican shutdown of the federal government in an effort to force the administration to “defund” health care reforms. McCain correctly predicted the party would have to back down and suffer for the move in opinion polls.
Rim Country’s Republican representative in the state Legislature, Brenda Barton, sidestepped the controversy. “I am aware that the state Republican Party elected to censure Senator McCain. This was by no means a legislative action. I am highly focused this session on obtaining additional funding for rural community colleges, obtaining new funding for forest health on state lands, and passage of my water augmentation bill that would provide funding for local governments for the purposes of water infrastructure development. And, I am fully committed to the full restoration of the HURF funding to our rural counties.”
McCain and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake also irritated the party’s right wing when they gathered the Republican “gang of eight” to craft a plan for comprehensive immigration reform to both secure the border and find a way to legalize the status of millions of immigrants here illegally. Negotiators from both parties continue to work on the package, with concerns about how to legalize the status of an estimated 12 million people without rewarding illegal behavior at the core of the impasse.
Now in his fifth term in the senate, McCain hasn’t yet decided whether to run for a sixth term in 2016. However, he said the sharply critical resolutions have “fired me up.”
The former fighter pilot and war hero long earned a reputation as a fiercely independent maverick. Throughout his career, he has focused on foreign policy, proved willing to seek bipartisan solutions and clashed with the party’s right wing. After winning the presidential nomination, he took more conservative positions and healed his breach with the most conservative elements of the party. However, he lost decisively to President Barack Obama.
Although he has consistently and sharply criticized the administration, he has also colorfully criticized some members of his own party. In one published interview he reportedly commented, “… it’s always the wacko birds on the right and left that get the media megaphone. I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not.”
McCain took exception to the criticism of his opposition to Obama’s health care reforms, saying that he “led the fight for 25 days on the floor of the Senate.”
However, he also opposed efforts to refuse to raise the debt ceiling or fund the government to force Democrats to abandon their signature legislative achievement. He said Republicans could only eliminate the program by winning veto-proof majorities in both houses.
However, his Republican Party critics struck back fiercely.
The Maricopa County Republican Committee approved the censure by a nearly two-to-one margin. County party chair A.J. LaFargo said, “based on the responses from the diminishing number of John McCain supporters, they are either in denial, senile or lying to the public again. It’s unfortunate that liberal individuals like John McCain (former Arizona Senator) Jon Kyl, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Duval and Duval’s campaign manager (former Arizona Attorney General) Grant Woods — who is a Republican — would use Saul Alinsky tactics to try silencing the millions of people who disagree with them on the critical issues and their progressive socialist bullying tactics. The censure and the people who support it have never used demeaning and derogatory terms or phrases like John McCain.”
The release also quoted Timothy Schwartz, who authored the censure resolution, who said “Washington’s power allure has thoroughly corrupted” McCain.
He said, “this message is vitally important. We are losing our country. Every day a little more of what made this country the greatest nation on Earth is being taken from us — and Washington is to blame. Ironically, it seems necessary we remind ourselves that those who go to Washington go for us, not themselves. Yet Senator McCain … goes to Washington with an agenda of his own. That must change.”
McCain’s voting record
Project Vote Smart compiled the following tally on how Sen. McCain voted in support of bills backed by various groups that issue ratings of representatives.
Scores above 50 percent:
National Association of Counties: 100 percent
National Right to Life: 100 percent
Sportsmen and Animal Owners Alliance: 100 percent
Federal Employees Association: 100 percent
National Mining Association: 100 percent
Global Exchange (real estate, insurance, finance): 100 percent
Americans for Prosperity: 90 percent
American Conservative Union: 92 percent
National Taxpayers Union: 85 percent
National Association of Manufacturers: 80 percent
US Chamber of Commerce: 82 percent
American Farm Bureau Federation: 70 percent
National Journal (composite conservative): 73 percent
American Civil Liberties Union: 72 percent
John Birch Society: 56 percent
Scores of 20 percent or less:
American Immigration Lawyers Assn: 0 percent
League of Conservation voters: 0 percent
United Food & Commercial Workers: 0 percent
National Farmer’s Union: 0 percent
NARAL Pro-Choice America: 0 percent
American Library Association: 0 percent
Defenders of Wildlife: 0 percent
Animal Welfare Institute: 0 percent
National Organization for Women: 13 percent
Humane Society: 20 percent
Alliance for Retired Persons: 20 percent