Three of the five Republican candidates hoping to take on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords appeared at a Tea Party debate last Monday, June 14, in Green Valley. Here's a tape-delayed live blog of the event. Times are approximate. You'll find an expanded version on The Range, at blog.tucsonweekly.com.
2:12 p.m.: Jesse Kelly introduces himself: He's a conservative Marine running for Congress "because this country has had enough liberalism, and it's time to do something about it."
2:14 p.m.: Brian Miller tells the audience he's an A-10 instructor pilot in the Air Force Reserve, and he's running for office because "we need to hand down a better future to our kids and our grandkids and our great-grandkids than what we had."
2:16 p.m.: Former state lawmaker Jonathan Paton says "we don't recognize our country anymore because of what's happening in Washington, D.C." He gives some shout-outs to audience members and warns that the current direction of the nation will lead to "the death of the American dream."
2:18 p.m.: Kelly says he supports the Rosemont Mine, but that the "United States Congress has nothing to do with the mine."
2:20 p.m.: Miller says the mine should go forward as long as Rosemont fulfills its regulatory requirements. He says a member of Congress shouldn't use "political maneuvering" to distort laws to block the mine.
2:22 p.m.: Paton says he's opposed to the mine and produces a letter from Jamie Sturgess of Rosemont Copper that states that Sturgess can't support Paton as long as he opposes the mine. "I will never sell out your water rights as your state representative, your state senator, and certainly not as your congressman."
2:25 p.m.: Paton boasts that he voted not only for SB 1070, but "for every single anti-illegal-immigration bill in the state Legislature." He says that the immigration law will force illegal immigrants to move out of Arizona. He says he also sponsored an anti-human-smuggling bill while in the Legislature.
2:29 p.m.: Kelly says he supports SB 1070. He takes a shot at Paton's boast, saying the Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio accuses Paton of trying to prevent that human-smuggling law from being used against run-of-the-mill illegal immigrants. "I think that I've heard for the last time about a human-smuggling law that you passed and didn't want enforced," Kelly says. "... That is the problem with weak-willed politicians on our side who say one thing and do another."
2:30 p.m.: Paton asks for a minute to rebut. "That's just patently false," he says, noting that he has the endorsement of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who used the law to charge illegal immigrants of conspiring to enter the country if they paid a coyote.
2:31 p.m.: Paton says the 1,200 National Guard troops on their way to the border are not enough. He wants at least 6,000 troops—and not just the National Guard: He wants Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine troops to guard a new border wall.
2:33 p.m.: Kelly calls for a double-layer fence all along the border, more agents on the border and investigations into companies that hire illegal immigrants. He reminds the crowd that he's been endorsed by former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Arpaio.
2:35 p.m.: Brian Miller points out that building and maintaining a 2,000-mile fence and adding more Border Patrol agents will cost a quarter of a trillion dollars over 25 years. Miller says you can get the same results "for a fraction of the cost" by putting more Border Patrol agents on the border itself.
3 p.m.: Paton says the only way to rein in federal spending is to reduce taxes, "because if there isn't that revenue going in, they're not going to be spending it." (Evidently, someone hasn't been paying attention to the how Washington, D.C., has worked for the last decade.) Paton says that ending earmarks—which account for 2 percent of the federal budget—will solve budget problems. "It's the only way to do it," he says.
Kelly says "tax cuts work. We need to get to a 10 percent flat tax in this country. ... If 10 percent is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for the federal government." He blames the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on environmental regulations that force companies to drill in deep water by keeping coastlines off-limits. He digresses from the topic of financial reform and suggests dropping "the mother of all bombs—the largest non-nuclear device" on the gushing undersea well.
Miller proposes cutting back on everything that government does and replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax of 30 percent on all goods. "These are some of the ways we need to move toward fiscal responsibility."
3:15 p.m.: Jesse Kelly says "earmarks stink." (He doesn't mention that Don Kelly Construction, the family construction firm for which he works, has accepted tens of millions of dollars in contracts funded through earmarks and the Obama stimulus plan.) He chastises politicians who request earmarks: "It's Republicans who take earmarks, too, and that's just stunning. We're supposed to be the party of adults, of fiscal responsibility, of saying no."
3:25 p.m.: Kelly goes after Paton: "I'm sorry, Jonathan, but I cannot let you go on with this talking about reining in government spending. You voted for Janet Napolitano's budgets. In '08, you voted for her budget that increased state spending by a billion dollars. In '07, you were given a worse fiscal rating by Americans for Prosperity than Janet Napolitano herself."
Paton rebuts: "I wish I knew where this was coming from, because honestly, Jesse, what you're doing is you're accusing me of not being a conservative. And the fact of the matter is, I voted for the budgets I voted for—the ones that you're talking about—because I am conservative." He says the budgets he voted for included tax cuts for soldiers and more law enforcement on the border. He adds: "And the truth of the matter is the reason that you keep bringing up my record is because you don't have a record of your own, and that's just too bad."
Kelly returns fire: "What's too bad is your record. And you did say something accurate: I am accusing you of not being a conservative. ... Now, I understand that it's Republican primary season, and it's the year of the Tea Party, and you would like to be one. It's fashionable. But you're not. Own it. That's your record."
Moderator Ray Carroll offers Miller, who is seated between Kelly and Paton, a chance to comment. Miller gets a big laugh with his response: "I think I'll just scoot back."