Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and her Democrat challenger, Mark Kelly, went head-to-head in an Arizona U.S. Senate debate Tuesday night, with McSally blasting his ties to China and how he would vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
McSally, who has worked to outcampaign and overcome the astronaut, attacked Kelly’s questionable record on China, saying “I’m not questioning your patriotism; I’m questioning your judgement.”
“The facts are there,” McSally said, making reference to a story involving Kelly and a “Chinese junket.” You went on the junket, paid for by the Chinese Communist government, part of their propaganda arm. 2003: while active duty Navy, 2004, 2005, you said it was the most meaningful thing you had done in your life. And then you chose… the Chinese communist banner to take to space with you.”
“Your business relationships put you in a place where you’re weak on China,” McSally said of Kelly. “If people want a fighter who is going to stand up to China, then I’m your girl. I’ve already been doing that.”
President Donald Trump recently nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away last month due to complications with cancer. McSally seemingly forced Kelly to announce how he would vote on Barrett’s nomination should he be elected, with Kelly saying he would vote against the nomination.
“You know right well the winner of this election could be seated right away, as early as November, so you don’t get to decide timing, you only get to decide what your vote is,” McSally said, signaling to Kelly for a response. “Would you vote yes or no on Judge Barrett?”
“Well I said I would vote no,” Kelly said. “This should wait until January when we have a new president.”
At one point during the debate, Kelly went on to stumble around the discussion of the Senate filibuster and whether he would vote to kill it if he is elected to the Senate.
“If you are in the Senate, would you support a filibuster to delay the nomination?” asked Lorraine Rivera of Arizona Public Media.
“We don’t know if this is even going to come up for — even a discussion,” Kelly said, after having the question repeated to him. “It might — and if it does, I will give it thoughtful consideration.”
McSally also called on Kelly to release his tax returns, a process she completed before the debate.
“I released my taxes today,” McSally said. “I’m transparent so that people can see what kind of money I’ve made, how I made it and what I paid in taxes. I’m calling on my opponent to also release his taxes so Arizonans can see where he has made his money over the last five years and where it came from. It’s just basic transparency.”
While this was the first and only scheduled debate, McSally challenged Kelly to three more debates before the election, suggesting that they could travel to Green Valley or Yuma.
“I think Arizonans really probably prefer this, the thirty-second select tv ads, so why don’t we do this three more times in the next few weeks? We could go to Green Valley, we could go to Yuma… I’m sure the local media would support holding the debates.”
Kelly did not signal whether he would participate in three more debates, an action McSally said “proves her point” on open dialogue between the candidates before the election.