McCain deals with contentious crowd at Tucson town hall

Published: Aug. 9, 2011 at 10:50 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 16, 2011 at 6:33 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Tuesday was a rough day for Sen. John McCain.

At a town hall meeting on the Northwest side the Arizona Republican took heat on just about everything, from the debt ceiling deal to the war in Afghanistan.

The venue was not large enough for all who wanted to attend and many were turned away. Those who made it inside expressed frustration with just about everything Congress is doing, or not doing.

There were people from across the political spectrum.

Before the town hall even started the senator laid out some ground rules to keep things civil, but had to keep reminding people what they were.

The town hall was contentious with audience members shouting at him and at each other and during one exchange, McCain was interrupted a few times.

He said, "Sir, you've got to let me finish and then I'll let you talk. Ok? Remember what I said at the beginning. So let me just finally say, let's cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent."

The boos and cat calls then rang out.

McCain continued to explain his stance, saying that, in addition to cutting the corporate tax rate, he wants to close, what he calls, special-interest loopholes.

Another of McCain's ideas that got a heated response was what to do about entitlements.

He said we have to preserve things like Social Security, but some audience members did not like how he proposes to do it.

After the town hall, I asked him about that.

"Oh, everything has to be on the table, including proposals for future recipients of Social Security - beneficiaries. We may have to raise the retirement age," McCain said.

During the town hall, questions came rapidly.

One man asked, "Why do you believe that tax breaks to the wealthy create jobs?"

McCain found himself answering variations of that question all through the town hall.

He said, "I do not believe that raising taxes on anybody is helpful in making our economy better and providing people with the wherewithal to make investments and jobs."

People either agreed or disagreed every time McCain spoke, and they voiced it.

McCain acknowledged Americans' anger and frustration with Washington gridlock.

He blamed Congress, even President George W. Bush for out-of-control spending, but he aimed severe criticism at President Obama, whom he says is failing to lead.

McCain said Obama should come up with a plan, then call Congress back from vacation.

"We all sit down together and address these issues and come up with a result for the American people," McCain said.

He said he believes the mandate from voters in November was to cut spending, and not raise taxes.

That, he says, is his philosophy too.

It's probably safe to say that not many, if any, minds were changed on any of the issues.

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