McCain and Kirkpatrick in Tucson this week

McCain and Kirkpatrick in Tucson this week
Both Ann Kirkpatrick and John McCain were in Tucson this week. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Both Ann Kirkpatrick and John McCain were in Tucson this week. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's only June, and the two leading major party candidates for U.S. Senate are already braving the heat by making stops in Tucson.

Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick and incumbent Senator John McCain both made visits to Tucson this week.

McCain still has a crowded primary field to navigate whereas Kirkpatrick does not have a primary challenge. While the two candidates have many differences, they both have some things in common.

Border security and comprehensive immigration reform is one area where they agree.

McCain is calling for more technology and more boots on the ground.

While accepting the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council, McCain said "We need to double the number of towers along the border."

Those towers contain highly sophisticated imaging cameras which right now cover about half the border. Another fifty would cover the entire border but would cost about $150 million.

McCain believe the heroin and opioid epidemic is due in large part to the open border, which the cartels use to smuggle in nearly unlimited amounts of drugs.

Kirkpatrick also believes border security is lacking and would like to see more boots closer to the border.

"I'm a former prosecutor," said Kirkpatrick. "I have zero tolerance for drug cartels and smugglers."

Ranchers have told Kirkpatrick they have seen drug smugglers cross their property and "they're afraid," she said. She, like McCain agree comprehensive immigration reform is needed to help secure the border.

Another thing they agree on is the anger they see in the voters.

"I've thought for quite a while that I've got a very, very tough race," said McCain. "And anybody who takes an election for granted in this environment is not aware of the anger and dissatisfaction out there."

"I've been seeing that anger for years so this is not something new to me," Kirkpatrick said. "There are a lot of people in my district who play by the rules, who are hard working and life's not getting better."

That voter anger could help Kirkpatrick in her effort to unseat McCain because it's generally aimed at establishment candidates.

"They're angry and they want to know why (life is not getting better)" she said.

Asked whether Trump at the top of the GOP may help in her efforts against McCain, she was noncommittal.

"We'll have to see," she said.

McCain was just as noncommittal when asked the same question.

"Well, a lot of things you don't know because you don't anticipate these kinds of things," McCain said.

But there are many areas of disagreement as well. The most obvious is support for the candidate at the top of the ticket.

"I will support the nominee," McCain said when asked if he would support GOP candidate Donald Trump.

Asked a second time he said "I will support the nominee," without mentioning his name.

For Kirkpatrick, her support of Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders is unabashed.

"I'm a Hillary supporter," she said. "I think she's the most qualified for the job."

Because McCain is involved in a primary, he's focusing his attention there.

But Kirkpatrick, who does not have a primary opponent, is free to step up criticisms of McCain, which she did.

"He used to be a maverick, he used to be a straight talker, he used to stand for something, and his support for Trump is proof he's changed after 33 years in Washington," she said.

Kirkpatrick has spent six years in Washington and says she's rooted in Arizona and is not a Washington insider, establishment candidate.

Asked if there are any surprises in this election cycle, Kirkpatrick said "You know what surprises me is that Senator McCain says over and over again that he will support Trump in light of his hateful, racist, even insulting Mr. McCain himself, he says he'll support Trump as President," she said. "That's what surprises me."

McCain, when asked, never used Trump's name saying he "will support the nominee."

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