Arizona GOP rebukes McCain for not being conservative enough
January 26th, 2014
05:48 PM ET
9 years ago

Arizona GOP rebukes McCain for not being conservative enough

(CNN) – The Arizona Republican Party censured longtime Sen. John McCain for what it called his “long and terrible” record of voting with liberal Democrats.

The voice vote Saturday came from the floor at the party’s meeting in Tempe. While the resolution does not have an impact on McCain’s work in Congress, the party pledges it would not support, campaign for or endorse the Republican senator.

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“Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Senator McCain would return to our party’s values on his own. That has not happened,” reads the resolution, which was provided to CNN. (Read the full text below.)

Tim Sifert, communications director for the Arizona GOP, said 704 of the 1,658 committee members were present for the meeting.

The resolution originally came from Timothy Schwartz, the party leader for a legislative district in the Phoenix area that has a lot of Democrats. By getting 20% of the members present to sign a petition supporting his resolution, he was able to get a vote on the floor.

The resolution refers to McCain’s vote for the Senate comprehensive immigration bill last year, which included a pathway to citizenship. McCain, and his fellow senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake, were two out of 14 Republican senators who joined with Democrats to support the legislation last summer.

While the state party’s resolution doesn’t mention specific legislation, it also refers to his procedural vote to move ahead with an amendment that would expand background checks to gun purchases at gun shows and online. McCain was one of four senators who bucked the GOP and sided with most Democrats on this issue.

“This record has been disastrous and harmful to Arizona and the United States,” the resolution states. It further accuses him of being “eerily silent against Liberals yet publicly reprimands Conservatives in his own Party.”

“The Arizona Republican leadership censures Senator McCain for his continued disservice to our State and Nation,” the resolution states.

The party, however, voted in favor of a resolution that supports conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as those “who stand with them.”

McCain’s office did not comment on the vote.

First elected in 1986, McCain has long been known as centrist in the Senate. And while he’s worked with Democrats, McCain is one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration’s national security policies. He has especially been vocal about the handling of the deadly terrorist attack against the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya–an issue frequently raised by conservatives.

Former Sen. Jon Kyl, another Republican from Arizona, labeled the effort to reprimand McCain “wacky.”

“I’ve gone to dozens of these meetings and every now and then some wacky resolution gets passed,” Kyl told The Arizona Republic. “But most people realize it does not represent the majority of the vast numbers of Republicans.”

Kyl said McCain, who’s in his fifth term, has been re-elected over the years despite opposition by many GOP activists.

“Do these guys ever get elected? It’s John McCain who gets elected,” Kyl told the newspaper.

In the past year, McCain has indeed reached across the aisle on legislation. He was part of the bipartisan group of 14 senators that crafted several proposals to end the government shutdown, much to the chagrin of far-right conservatives who only wanted to fund the government if the spending bill included major changes to Obamacare.

As he gathered on the Senate floor in October to celebrate the end of the shutdown with his 13 cohorts, he gave no indication that he planned to stop working with some Democrats.

"This group of 14 people (is) committed to staying together to address other issues of importance," McCain said. "This isn't the last crisis that we're going to go through. But I think we have the framework for the kind of bipartisanship that the American people need and want."

Also that day, McCain chided the bickering and fighting that was taking place in the GOP.

"There's a fight in our party, and that has to be waged and it's been there before," he said on CNN. But he was quick to remind his colleagues of former President Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.

"Don't speak ill of your fellow Republicans," he said. "We've done way too much of that."

McCain, 77, hasn’t ruled out making a bid for a sixth term in 2016. He told NBC’s Jay Leno that he’s still “looking very seriously" at another campaign.

The Arizona Republican easily held his seat in the 2010 election against Democrat challenger Rodney Glassman, but he faced a more challenging contest leading up to that in the GOP primary against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

Hayworth accused McCain of not being a true conservative, driving McCain to move to the right on some issues. He was also forced to spend $20 million in the primary campaign.

Sifert, who has been active in Arizona politics for more than 20 years, said Hayworth’s challenge, as well as a primary challenge in McCain’s 2004 re-election bid, are examples of some of the resistance the senator has seen from in his own party at home.

Asked why he still keeps winning re-election, Sifert credited McCain with being a “very effective speaker” who’s “good at persuading crowds of people.”

“People admire him personally for his military service” he said. “He just has a presence when he’s in campaign mode that has proved very tough to overcome.”

Full text of the resolution:

As leaders in the Republican Party, we are obligated to fully support our Party, platform, and its candidates. Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Senator McCain would return to our Party’s values on his own. That has not happened. So with sadness and humility we rise and declare:

Whereas Senator McCain has amassed a long and terrible record of drafting, co-sponsoring and voting for legislation best associated with liberal Democrats, such as Amnesty, funding for ObamaCare, the debt ceiling, liberal nominees, assaults on the Constitution and 2nd amendment; and

Whereas this record has been disastrous and harmful to Arizona and the United States; and

Whereas Senator McCain has campaigned as a conservative and made promises during his re-election campaigns, such as the needed and welcomed promise to secure our borders and finish the border fence, only to quickly flip-flop on those promises; and

Whereas McCain has abandoned our values and has been eerily silent against Liberals, yet publicly reprimands Conservatives in his own Party, therefore

BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED that the Arizona Republican leadership censures Senator McCain for his continued disservice to our State and Nation, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that until he consistently champions our Party’s Platform, we, the Republican leadership in Arizona will no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. Senator.

Filed under: Arizona • John McCain
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Richard

    The farther right the GOP goes, the further they will be from ever getting another Republican elected to the White House. They just don't get it.

    January 26, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. tbone

    about time they call him out.

    January 26, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Thomas

    The party, however, voted in favor of a resolution that supports conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as those “who stand with them.”

    Ted Cruz / Mike Lee 2016
    Joseph McCarthy was Right ,
    when something ain't right , It's WRONG !

    January 26, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. waben38

    and the GOP wonders why it keeps losing? To call Senator Mcain-who learned his trade from barry goldwater and ronald reagan a liberal shows how extreme and out of touch they have become. i never left the republican party-it left me! (abandoned me actually)

    January 26, 2014 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. Rico X

    He was your presidential candidate, what, five years ago? The top Republican in the entire country?

    Jeebus. The GOP is so far off the deep end, it will never return to shore.

    Let's hope it drowns itself, rather than the country, in the bathtub.

    January 26, 2014 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. JacinJax

    John McCain is reaping what he sowed. He courted the radical right and gave them national attention in the 2008 campaign. He waited too long to say anything about the hateful, racist remarks by his supporters and he brought Sarah Palin into the national mix. It doesn't matter what he does in the future, this is the first thing people will think about when you say John McCain. I don't think history will be forgiving either. I used to respect the man. He was reasonable and could work across the aisle but his desire to be president no matter the cost to the country has made him a late night joke.

    January 26, 2014 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  7. BobInIrvine

    More proof that the GOP has become a party where "thinking for oneself" is bad and only those who obey the party masters (Rush? Roger Ailes?) are permitted a voice.

    But I love it! They are making themselves unelectable. In a two party system, if one party refuses to budge off their orthodoxy, the system collapses.

    January 26, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    That was earned.

    January 26, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  9. Ancient Texan

    John, your constantly voting like a Democrat is the reason you lost in 2008. While the country appreciates your military service and the time you were detained in Viet Nam, you have done the country a dis-service in voting against the wishes of the people that voted for you.

    January 26, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  10. OldSchool

    They need to dig Hitler up so he can run in Arizona...

    January 26, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  11. Jonathon Powelly

    <I<Less than half of the GOP committee members were present at the event.

    January 26, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  12. S. B. Stein

    I guess party and ideological purity is more important than getting the job done.

    January 26, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  13. Vence

    Old slimy McCain can get trough everything!

    January 27, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    I believe this resolution ( while clearly not being a republican) is flawed. he has worked well on domestic issues to get to compromise solutions in the interests of the nation as a whole the resolutions basic challenges are just anti government tea party ideology which does not win election for republicans.
    I di however fault him on his international political perspective wher he is simply a war monger and still pushing American exceptionalism as a reason to be the global international leader in any situation.
    Its OK to believe in American exceptionalism, from the point of view of style of governanace but it fails to recognize the global power base changes of the last 2 decades caused by the utter failure of war as the only solution while Chinese and Russian influence have emerged much stronger. The effect of the " war on terror" basically against islam and Islamic states with its huge Numbers but weak political influence have totally undermined USA polict as propunded by Mc cain

    January 27, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  15. TBone

    McCain is too liberal?? The GOP is too far gone.

    January 27, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. ironman59

    Keep it going. There is nothing more fun nor better the country than to have the gop eat their own. It is why the gop is so out of touch & such a cluster.

    January 27, 2014 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  17. with a grain of salt

    You've all but got him reelected right there. How far are moderates willing to go before they wake up. If you can't see where this is going, your blind. The gop has quite simply lost their collective minds, I see a slaughter coming in November, and none to soon.

    January 27, 2014 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  18. Anonymous

    A publicity stunt. MCCain was not and w I'll not run for another term w I t h or without this "censure"' It reflects a poor attempt by the Republican party to intimidate moderates.

    January 27, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Conservatives keep denying that there are thought police in the far right wing. Could've fooled me.

    January 27, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Conservatives keep denying that there is a civil war with the far right wing. Could've fooled me.

    January 27, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Barry wrote:

    McCain is a thinker. He has been fighting the radical GOP non thinkers for years. I voted for him in 2008. I think he would have made a great President were in not for the misguide party that he is unfortunately associated with. With any other VP candidate than Palin, he would have won. John keep fighting for a logical agenda. You are the man!!!!!!!
    Maybe, maybe not. Picking a provincial like Palin was a grave mistake, but McCain had enough flaws of his own. He's never seen a war that he could walk away from. I shudder to think about the state of world peace had McCain won in 2008. He most definitely would have started shooting at Iran, which would have quickly digressed into a regional and then global conflict.

    January 27, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  22. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    How is that rebranding effort coming along?

    January 27, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  23. Al-NY,NY

    a pox on you Mr McCain for releasing the shreiking harpie from Alaska on the citizens of this country.

    January 27, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion???

    You brought this on yourself McCain. You introduced that Teahadist Palin to the public, and now she's indroctrinating more numbskulls to take over the republican party. The day of the moderate republican is coming to an end. Either you're a pure RWNJ, or you're a traitor to their cause.

    January 27, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    Let's see: based upon his voting record in 2008, he was actually among the most conservative members of the Senate. The critical difference between McCain and his conservative bretheran is that he actually believes that government should actuallly do something, that it has a moral obligation to act on occaision, hence his interventionist foreign policy and his willingness to act on the domestic front (provided there is not an election coming up). He cites Teddy Roosevelt as his inspiration, a president who is definitely out of favor with the Right, but it indicates someone who actually thinks for himself and has a different concept of governing. Is he right all the time? Of course not, but I would take him any day over the others in his party who reach conclusions before the situation even arises or the question is even asked.

    January 27, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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