John McCain brings a wealth of experience in foreign affairs and powerful seniority to his position as senator. After 30 years in the Senate, he’s developed perspective that comes from witnessing, from a front-row seat, American history being made.
In that time, Arizona has grown tremendously. McCain, who we have criticized from time to time for looking to the world stage rather than focusing more on state needs, says that his priorities for Arizona are “fire and water.”
McCain, 80, is running against Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who has represented Congressional District 1 for two terms.
Kirkpatrick shares many of our priorities: college affordability; equal rights and protection against discrimination for Arizonans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; work permits and security against deportation for immigrant children, known as “Dreamers,” brought into the U.S. without proper documentation; and promoting trade and commerce with Mexico.
But when it comes to encyclopedic knowledge of a complicated world, McCain has the advantage. He chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and has been so involved in American foreign policy that he brings a perspective others can’t.
He’s been in Washington long enough to have seen policy cycles, to watch as partisanship and ideology have taken deep root, particularly in his own party. “A lot has changed over the years,” he said. “I think it disillusions young people.”
Yet we noticed something in interviews with Kirkpatrick and McCain — he uses “us” and “them” when referring to his Republican Party and to Democrats.
Kirkpatrick emphasized her bipartisan work with Republican Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar — they have teamed up on “common sense kind of things” that directly affect their constituents, as well as forest health and forest-fire prevention efforts. She has also broken with Democrats by voting against the Wall Street bailout, cap and trade, and the Dodd-Frank regulations on the financial industry.
McCain’s priority of “fire and water” for Arizona is wise. Wildfires have caused tremendous damage across the state in recent years.
“Our whole state is hostage to forest fires,” he said. He helped get Air Force planes transferred to help fight the blazes.
For water, McCain said it’s time to consider water reuse, although he acknowledges there’s a “psychological barrier” to doing so.
McCain said technology is key to developing solutions to potential water shortages and for border security.
He said he supports the comprehensive immigration reform package that came out of a bipartisan effort in 2013 nicknamed the “Gang of Eight.” The legislation, which stalled, would create a path to citizenship or legal residency for people in the country illegally and address business concerns by making it easier for immigrants to come to the U.S. to work in labor-intensive industries such as agriculture.
McCain also suggested that giving Border Patrol agents who work along the U.S.-Mexico border hardship pay, in part because of the extreme climate here. That could make the job more attractive, he said.