Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Richard Carmona kicked off the first day of the general election campaign by announcing the endorsement of members of iconic Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater’s family.
Joanne Goldwater, the senator’s daughter, and C.C. Goldwater, his granddaughter, gathered with Carmona today at Barry Goldwater Memorial Park in Paradise Valley to throw their support behind the Democratic candidate.
“My father Barry held that seat for about 30 years, and Rich, the reason I’m voting for Rich and endorsing Rich, is he embodies pretty much all of the principles that my father held,” Joanne Goldwater said. “I think Rich is one of the most honest men and his background is incredible. He’s almost overqualified. He’s done so much in his life. I think he stands for some of the principles that my mother and I and my children, especially with women and the right to choose and having positions in enabling them to get help in health matters.”
C.C. Goldwater also focused on Carmona’s pro-choice beliefs, a traditionally Democratic issue that the conservative Goldwater championed later in his career.
“We need a man of choice, and he is absolutely the perfect person for that,” she said.
Joanne Goldwater said Carmona shares some of the libertarian views that she and her father held, but none of the three elaborated on what other issues Carmona had in common with the Senator known as “Mr. Conservative.” Carmona, who served as surgeon general under Republican President George W. Bush, said he shares Goldwater’s independence, devotion to Arizona and straight-talking persona.
“Barry Goldwater was a straight talker. You always knew where you stood when he spoke, even if you disagreed with him. His life was embodied with integrity and selfless service, and this is what drove him. I intend to follow the example that he set for statesmanship,” Carmona said. “It’s an honor to receive the endorsement of the Goldwater family. I’ve always been an admirer of the Goldwaters because of the service that the Goldwaters have given to the state of Arizona for so many years, and because of the outstanding, independent leadership that Barry provided.”
While Carmona tied himself to the Goldwater legacy, Republican nominee Jeff Flake began his general election campaign by tying his Democratic opponent to President Barack Obama, who personally helped recruit Carmona into the race last year.
Flake, a six-term Mesa congressman who won a 48-point victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary, released a web video today dubbing his opponent as a “rubber stamp” for Obama. The ad criticized Carmona’s position on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature health care law, which Carmona has described as “brave.”
“Personally handpicked and recruited by President Barack Obama to run for the Senate in Arizona, Carmona has spent much of his campaign trying to hide the fact that he’ll be a rubber stamp for the Democrats’ liberal agenda in Washington,” the Flake campaign said in a press statement.
Flake spokesman Andrew Wilder said the endorsements wouldn’t matter. He noted that Goldwater family members who endorsed Carmona are largely unknown, and said Flake has the support of former Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr., a prominent, conservative member of the family.
“They’re not going to have the intended effect. The intended effect is to try to convince people that he is something other than the Democrats’ and President Obama’s handpicked candidate, and frankly a rubber stamp for the Democrats in Washington,” Wilder said. “They’re trying to convince you that he has support across the board.”
Wilder also noted that C.C. Goldwater wrote a column for Huffington Post in 2008 about why she was supporting Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Carmona denied the “rubber stamp” assertion.
“People that know me know that I’m not anybody’s rubber stamp. As surgeon general of the United States I worked for a Republican administration, but when necessary I stood up on issues of values and science. I’m very proud of the fact that a Republican president recruited me to become United States surgeon general,” he said. “The fact that a president of the United States called me to suggest that I should consider this, I’m very proud of that, that in my lifetime I’ve had two different presidents of two different parties reach out and say we think you’d be a good leader, why don’t you serve your country?”