Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona is now in a battle of ads in the Arizona Senate race, not only with Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, but with Sen. John McCain and retiring Sen. Jon Kyl.
Carmona launched an ad on Thursday, featuring video clips of McCain and Kyl praising Carmona in 2002, and supporting his nomination for Surgeon General under President George W. Bush — showing at the time, they had a lot of great things to say about him.
“Dr. Carmona’s inspiring story is the living embodiment of the American Dream,” McCain is shown saying. He also praised Carmona as “one of the most decorated policemen in Arizona.” Kyl is shown saying: “His unique background will serve him well, and serve us well.”
On Thursday, the Flake campaign released a scathing joint statement from McCain and Kyl, saying in part: “It is shameful for Richard Carmona to try to deceive the voters in this way. It shows that he has no credibility, and it says everything the voters of Arizona need to know about Richard Carmona’s fitness for office. Jeff Flake is our candidate. He is a courageous, independent Arizona conservative — and he’s honest.”
And on Monday, the Flake campaign released a new ad, starring McCain and Kyl.
“We helped Carmona ten years ago,” Kyl says in the ad, “but found he’s not the kind of man to represent you in the U.S. Senate.”
McCain adds: “It isn’t just that he supports the Obama agenda; his ads prove Carmona lacks integrity. We support Jeff Flake.”
And over the weekend, Kyl told the Weekly Standard of his past dealings with Carmona — saying that during the 2006 election cycle, when Republicans were looking for a candidate in the open seat that was later won by Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, he had spoken on the phone with Carmona about a possible candidacy as a Republican.
“I thought his response was odd and a little off-putting,” Kyl said. “He seemed more concerned about the perks of the office; he specifically asked about a house and a car, in the context of, well, he wasn’t a wealthy man and he would need to consider what went with the job. And he also seemed to think that it was just a lot of work for just two years, and having to run again, he thought, well, a position in the Senate would be a lot better to hold.”
Carmona responded in an interview Saturday with The Hill, saying he was “flabbergasted” at the accusation.
“I did have conversations with Senator Kyl asking him, ‘Where does a congressman live? Do you bring a car here? Do I need to?’ I mean, there were a lot of logistical questions that I asked him as I was doing my due diligence,” said Carmona. “It had nothing to do with perks, I just, I did not know what the life of a congressman was going to be.”
“For someone who’s ‘not so political’ you sure leave an audience in awe,” Kyle wrote, on his personal letterhead. “Thanks for all you did for me in Phoenix last week. I look forward to continuing our discussion at your convenience.”