Journalists Roundtable

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Local reporters review the week’s top stories

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Mary K. Reinhart of the "Arizona Guardian", Casey Newton of the "Arizona Republic", and Luigi Del Puerto of the "Arizona Capitol Times". Let's start with the week's big announcement regarding Russell Pearce going after the 14th Amendment.

Mary K. Reinhart: Right, not a surprising announcement. The news was that he's, there's sort of a coordinated effort among state legislatures in 41 states have some sort of Illegal Immigration Legislation this year. 14 states including Arizona plan to have a model bill that will challenge the birth right citizenship which says that you are a U.S. citizen if you are born here. Among people who have babies who are illegal immigrants. Basically, what they are doing is they are trying to pick a fight with the Supreme Court. They believe that the interpretation of the 14th Amendment has been wrong all these years since 1868, I guess.

Ted Simons: He missed that. He says we are looking for a court battle.

Mary K. Reinhart: That's what they're looking for.

Ted Simons: This is the same guy who wrote SB 1070.

Mary K. Reinhart: A law professor from Missouri has been working with Senator Pearce certainly was one of the architects of Senate Bill 1070 and has been working with the other supporters of this legislation for the past several months trying to draft something that will get through the legislatures and ultimately get to the high court.

Luigi Del Puerto: We have definitely seen what that language is going to look like but, Mary K. is right, the idea is to basically challenge the 100-year-old interpretation of the 14th amendment, which basically says if you are born here, you are a U.S. citizen.

Casey Newton: It's an interesting strategy, that multi-state coalition when you figure with Senate Bill 1070, Arizona did it first and before other states could jump in the Obama Administration got involve, tried to nip it in butt. You could have the possibility of multiple states passing a law at the same time maybe creating a bigger legal headache for the Administration.

Ted Simons: Not only that but some folks in Arizona are saying maybe Arizona won't be in the spotlight on this one like it was for SB 1070.

Casey Newton: It's a possibility but I think Arizona is one of the first movers here, the first to hold a press conference, and I think given our recent history with immigration law we can still expect to see this will be a major Battle Ground state.

Ted Simons: How much does this affect the next session?

Luigi Del Puerto: I think it depends first of all if it gets introduced, I think it will get introduced, it depends on whether they were hear it in committee. I know that some people are not happy, if you will, that this kind of legislation is going to get introduced. It depends on what they are doing, the time they are hearing in committee or bringing it to the floor. If they are bringing it to the floor the same time they are doing the budget, it will probably distract them from doing the budget and everyone else will be talking about it.

Ted Simons: How does this help or hurt Russell Pearce's chances of being Senate President next session? Or does it impact it?

Mary K. Reinhart: I don't know that it could possibly hurt his chances. I think people who already are planning to vote for him for Senate President, you know, are pleased and are supportive of this legislation, and those who aren't are not. It remains to be seen. I guess the thing that sort of hangs in the balance is who gets elected. There's several swing seats obviously. I don't think it hurts his chances.

Ted Simons: Do you agree that? Is that going to be a factor at all in that particular contest in?

Luigi Del Puerto: I do know some lawmakers who are going -- let me put it this way. There's pressure from certain groups, certainly from the business community, that we are not doing legislation like this one again. They saw the result of 1070, what they think was the result of 1070, and they didn't want to go through it again. And these same groups I think will have some pressure on members, will be voting for the next Senate President. To that extent I think it's going to have an impact in the sense it's either going to confirm why they don't want Russell Pearce to become Senate President.

Ted Simons: Governor, no stand as yet on this. If elected, what do you think she's going to do?

Casey Newton: I don't know. Some politicos tell me maybe Jan doesn't actually sign this. Maybe she will have been reelected and take a look at this and say this is a fight I don't want to have. But the truth is we don't know. It's pure speculation at this point. I think the Governor is certainly at least going to want to wait to see the language in the bill before she starts to put forth an opinion on this.

Ted Simons: All right. The governor also came out, though, also, I should say, as opposed to, not taking a stand on this. She did take a stand on medical marijuana, that initiative, and basically the only initiative right now she's talked about?

Casey Newton: That's right. She's not gotten involved in campaigning for or against any of the other I believe it's nine propositions that are on the ballot this year. She said She wanted to get involved in this one because she felt like, if the bill passes, or prop 203 passes there's going to be a big cost to the state, both about $1 million to set up a new regulatory scheme to regulate all of the dispensaries that would open up or the proposition to pass, but also a societal cost. She says it's going to bring in higher crime near those dispensaries.

Ted Simons: And the idea that other health services might suffer, DHS is saying that if we are going to have all of our resources in here, other resources might get the short drift?

Mary K. Reinhart: DHS has been whacked so every million dollars counts. They are down about 40% in their staff. Tens of millions of dollars. It remains to be seen whether it costs a million dollars to set up the regulatory scheme and whether or not that's enough of a reason to vote for or against this. I think there are much bigger issues here.

Casey Newton: I talked to the Campaign Manager for Proposition 203 this week, he says, if this thing passes, we will raise funds to fund the regulatory scheme. They are confident they can find the money that will pay for it and it won't cost us.

Luigi Del Puerto: One thing I'm interested if they are going to tax it. They tried taxing it might have been last year or this year but definitely tried passing legislation that would say, this particular drug is going to be tax exempt so I am interested to find out next year the people who voted against it or didn't want to vote for it this year, if they are going to vote for it now that it's presumed it's going to pass.

Ted Simons: All right. Governor's race, let's get to that right now. Casey, we are getting tweets but not getting joint appearances.

Casey Newton: That's right. As the campaign season has worn on, there are more and more events where all of the gubernatorial candidates have been invited, and most of those events you will find three out of four candidates and the one that's not showing up is Jan Brewer and that led to some grumbling from senior citizens who got to hear from everyone but they were saying, hey, where's the governor?

Ted Simons: Is this becoming an impactful issue? Or is this just more of the same?

Casey Newton: I have to say, we have seen so many races this year where one of the candidates will not participate in more than maybe one debate. What those candidates have in common they are all in the lead. Right? If somebody won't show up at a debate that's how you know they are winning.

Ted Simons: Governor says, governor's campaign I should say, is that she's got a day job. She can't be everywhere all the time. Electorate OK with that do you think?

Mary K. Reinhart: I don't think it's -- I think Casey is absolutely right. She's got only stuff to lose, nothing to win by participating in these debates. People who aren't going to vote for her anyway are urging her to come to those debates, naturally, but she clearly has to no reason to. At least in the latest polls we have seen. You know, and frankly, you know, I don't -- I think for Democracy sake it would be nice to see them go at it again but I don't think from a political standpoint it makes sense.

Luigi Del Puerto: She's up there very honest about her reason for not going to these debates, if you recall, a couple weeks ago, she said, I'm in the going to debate Goddard unless my numbers start falling.

Mary K. Reinhart: She said -- both of them have decades of public service, people know where they stand, people have seen them around for decades, she is not staying home, either. She's been out. She's been to events, she's been pretty busy the last couple of months. So it's not as if she's not doing anything.

Ted Simons: Without a Governor Brewer there to debate, it sounds like Terry Goddard is tweeting.

Casey Newton: Absolutely. He is going to as many of these public forums as he can but when he is not doing that he's held a couple of what are called tweet-ups, a play on meet-ups. He goes on Twitter which is a way to exchange very short messages with people. And he allows people to ask him questions and he fires off responses and all of those responses are 140 characters or less. Very short answers, which his campaign staff tells me is sometimes a challenge to condense his responses.

Ted Simons: But is this not just tweeting to the choir here?

Casey Newton: It is. When you look at the questions that are asked of him, frequently they are not as sharp as the questions you asked here on "Horizon", Ted. He is often getting questions from supporters. But, you know, you have to give him credit, I guess, for trying to reach that audience. I will tell you Governor Brewer has exponentially more followers on Twitter than Goddard does by tens of thousands.

Ted Simons: All right. Let's talk about some real debates and we had one here on "Horizon" for CD-5. One. Most civil debates that we have had. We have had some Lou-Lous but this came off as a couple of folks discussing the issues, and I don't know. What did you take out of it?

Mary K. Reinhart: I thought David was very confident. Came off, you know, as someone certainly on the offensive, very, you know, could tell the guy was the County Treasurer. Talked talking about the economy and jobs. That was a good tactic but I was impressed with Harry Mitchell's response on health care. With all the Democrat who is have seen the polls, presumably most people don't like it, now that pieces of it are being implemented, that actually may help some folks, you know, who can't kick their kid out for preexisting conditions. You see the Democrats, including Harry Mitchell, defending their votes very vigorously.

Ted Simons: Do you think in CD-5 in defending that vote? The "Arizona Republic" basically said that Mitchell wasn't representing his district here at the debate he said he didn't necessarily agree with that.

Luigi Del Puerto: Polls certainly show that a bigger number of people are not very happy with the legislation. What I can say about the debate is that after seeing it, it seems like there was a clear policy choice after watching the debate. There are two separate ideas. And they're debating those ideas. And you get a sense of where those people are coming from. So after watching the debate you get a sense of whether I want this kind of viewpoint or whether I want the opposite viewpoint. You do get that. It was pretty civil and I liked it a lot.

Casey Newton: What I took from the debate there is a sense in which it's a lot easier to be the challenger. Being the incumbent has a lot of advantages but particularly in the debate format you get to go on the offensive if you are the challenger. You get to hold that person accountable for all the things they have done in office and Schweikert hit Mitchell hard on that. Mitchell is in the fight of his life right now. It's a very tough race.

Mary K. Reinhart: In 25 minutes I think it's difficult to fact check everything that comes out. Talk about stimulus and how many jobs Mitchell said he would create and what a failure the stimulus package was. Go back to the internet, half of the $7 billion Arizona got went to education and Medicaid. As Casey says being a challenger when you are talking about what appear to be unpopular votes in Congress is a good position to be in right now.

Ted Simons: I thought I noticed as well as the same two gentlemen were debating a couple years ago it seems as though for this round Schweikert had more confidence going for him, which I guess translates as far as the debate goes. Speaking of ready to go, they sure went at it in Tucson. You were there.

Luigi Del Puerto: I was there, and I was there two years ago when Gabby Gifford debated him. That was a very civil debate. They talked about the issues. They did talk about the issues this time also but the crowd was split right down the middle. They interrupted the candidates and I thought that it was just an angry atmosphere.

Ted Simons: Where was this held? How big of an auditorium?

Luigi Del Puerto: It was big. At the University of Arizona -- it was one of their ballrooms there but it was a huge --

Ted Simons: Hundreds?

Luigi Del Puerto: Hundreds of people were there. I was actually there before they opened the gate and everyone was anxious to get in and once the gate was open. You could, you saw the people just flooding in. And it was standing room only and if there was one spot beside you, I mean basically everyone I don't think people were there necessarily to be swayed by these people. I think they were there because they wanted to hear the candidates but I thought that there was a real interest in what they had to say.

Ted Simons: Well, was there really a real interest? Or was there a real interest in yelling and shouting and calling your opponent out? First of all, we got that much from the audience. Did we get that much from the candidates?

Luigi Del Puerto: The candidates, they were, there was civil to -- well, civil, OK. Let me rephrase that. They were sniping. They were to a certain extent mud slinging. They were repeating the TV ads that they had been airing against each other. They did talk about issues. They did very clearly lay out their positions and issues and you get a sense they were sniping at each other a lot.

Ted Simons: For these kinds of mudfests, we certainly had them here, we have seen them down there. This campaign seems to be full of it. What are you hearing from people?

Casey Newton: I believe, believe it or not, in a close race it's going to be effective. What mud slinging does it dampens enthusiasm for your opponent. And in a race that's as close as the one in CD-8 looks like turnout is going to be a big factor so if enough of that mud sticks you might find yourself in Congress.

Mary K. Reinhart: Right. In this race there are, it's about as clear a difference as you can possibly have in this state, you know. So there isn't really, you know, a middle. So if you can throw something that sticks, I think that's going to make a difference. Because the people in the middle probably are going to stay home, you know?

Luigi Del Puerto: I didn't get the sense the people who were watching their TV sets and hearing on the radio, I didn't get the sense they were actually swayed by the arguments people made there. It's just that there was a lot of sniping. I don't think that that necessarily enlightened people.

Ted Simons: I often wonder about that. If you were literally on the fence between two candidates, and someone is being negative here and someone is being negative here, is it who's being negative the most palatable? How does that work?

Mary K. Reinhart: It also again, it could be working against, in other words, if I was going to work for candidate A and enough stuff is thrown at candidate A that makes me question candidate A, I'm not necessarily going to vote for candidate B. They are not going to change people from one candidate necessarily to another but you are going to take votes away as Casey said from that person I had originally thought of as being honest and now this mud slinging made me question it.

Ted Simons: It may in the knot be the electoral still -- they don't trust, people just don't trust anything. They don't trust business, they don't trust any kind of politician, the media. So when they hear, let's say I'm just flinging the mud at you, wouldn't you think that people would say, what's he doing that for? But they don't do that, do they?

Casey Newton: No. Because mud slinging has become such a time-honored part of the campaign. And now if you do not charge your opponent with something, you can look weak. This isn't true of every race but I think of the Attorney General's race part of what voters are deciding who will be the better person to fight for them. Best way to show them is to fight your opponent.

Mary K. Reinhart: Negative campaigning, it works. It's been going on forever. People are saying, I hate that negative campaigning and it's terrible, I hate it but it just works. And so if you are a victim of the mud, and you do nothing, then, you know, you might as well give it up. You got to throw back and then there you go. You are volleying back and forth and the rest of it.

Casey Newton: As the counter example, again, it matters if it's a close race. Look at the governor's race which is widely presumed Jan Brewer to be ahead in. She's made some attacks against Terry Goddard but it's been a relatively civil debate. Her ads show her gazing dreamily at the Phoenix skyline. For her it doesn't make as much sense to sling mud.

Ted Simons: You had that debate, Luigi, and that was a raucous debate. We had a half of a debate here regarding CD-1. We would both candidates agreeing to appear here on "Horizon" and one of the candidates at last minute decided he was not going to appear, Paul Gosar, so we had a chance oh talk to Ann Kirkpatrick in that sense and I had a chance to talk to her. But the idea of not debating does that send up a flag saying I think I'm doing pretty well? No reason for me to show?

Casey Newton: It does. And I think candidates kind of have to weigh the pros and cons. We saw in California Meg Whitman at first was resistant for debating but she got a lot of flak for that. I don't know that Gosar is going to come around on this but we should absolutely take that as a sign he thinks he can win this without going one on one with her.

Ted Simons: It's obviously a shame when you agree to debate and back out of it as opposed to not saying you would do it in the first place. Is that race close?

Mary K. Reinhart: Well, the national polls, you know, the 538's and those folks have got, it certainly got it close but have Gosar ahead pretty consistently. So I think again it's back to that, if it's yours to lose, if you're in the lead, don't risk screwing it up by getting into a one on one with somebody and you never know what you are going to say.

Luigi Del Puerto: The fact people are throwing so much money into that race mean it's very competitive. You saw the ads that they are showing up there. In the North Country so the fact the people are spending much money in that race mean it's very competitive.

Mary K. Reinhart: It's kind of a quirky district. It's gigantic and it's full of a lot of small towns and as one political operative told us it's sort of like campaigning at 100 different city halls. So it's a very difficult district to work. So if you have got the mo, go.

Ted Simons: Have you seen this YouTube video of Senate candidate --

Casey Newton: I have.

Ted Simons: What's going on here?

Casey Newton: So Rodney Glassman in what has to be characterized as a last ditch effort to win the Senate race against John McCain filmed an ad in which he recorded a new version of "Sweet Home Alabama," where he changed the lyrics to a litany of complaints about Senator McCain. I think if you were running to be student body president of his middle school it would be really impressive. Running for a seat in the United States Senate, I think it made him look ridiculous.

Mary K. Reinhart: He wanted to have a little bit of fun. OK? Couldn't we all have a little bit of fun in an election year? Does the fun completely have to go out of it? Pretty much that's what the likes like.

Ted Simons: The key question here, though, was he having more fun than you?

Luigi Del Puerto: I think he was.

Mary K. Reinhart: It was a little bit painful.

Ted Simons: All right, all right.

Luigi Del Puerto: I actually enjoyed watching it. I think he had lots of fun and the guitar playing was awesome. [Laughter]

Ted Simons: We never got around to the backing band. Pretty good job. Real quickly, Sarah Palin appeared at a Tea Party rally at the Capitol today.

Casey Newton: It was a surprise. It sort of emerged on Twitter earlier today that Sarah Palin was going to be at this rally. The Tea Party express which is making a run through the country and the run-up to November 2nd stopped by and they said they had a big surprise guest and I think Sarah Palin qualifies as a big surprise guest. She showed up. There were hundreds of people there. She gave a very short two-minute speech to rile up the crowd. People seemed very excited.

Ted Simons: Republic was there and Joe Arpaio was there.

Luigi Del Puerto: She didn't mention any candidates. If you were, if that was the one thing that sort, we sent a reporter down there and he said, well, she didn't endorse anyone or mention anyone's name who's was running. If you were a candidate and you wanted her endorsement or the people support her to support you as well, I would think you would be hoping she would mention you or something but she didn't do anything like that.

Ted Simons: Last week that the time on the Friday Roundtable we had first heard word of Jorge Garcia passing and we wanted to check that going on the air. That was the case and Luigi, in the Capitol Times, you had a very nice piece regarding Mr. Garcia. Talk us to about the man.

Luigi Del Puerto: Thank you. Senator Garcia, the first thing that would strike but him is a very austere person, very unassuming person. You wouldn't think he was a legislator because he never imposed that stature whenever he spoke to you. And I learned from his family, what -- I remember telling him at one point, I said, Senator Garcia we are going to do a Q&A with you and take photos of you. And he showed up in his jeans and very drab looking collar shirt. But that's just the way he was. He was very austere. He was just as austere with his family. They told me he would almost always order a side salad because he knew there would be left over from the other members. And that he even complained against buying Vitamin Water because he thought it was wasteful. He was brought up that way. Jorge Garcia was born in Mexico and came over to the United States when he was seven years old. His mom grew up here. He was a U.S. citizen but he used to peddle candy and gum on the border and he brought that kind of work ethic with him. He delivered newspapers when in high school as well.

Ted Simons: Your experience working with or covering I should say.

Casey Newton: Just one of the absolute friendliest guys in the Senate, very approachable, not all of the Senators are approachable but I think Senator Garcia really stood out for being a guy that was always willing to talk with you and was obviously admired by his colleagues who made them their minority leader.

Ted Simons: Senate minority leader. Obviously folks put their trust in I am but he could be independent, couldn't he?

Mary K. Reinhart: He was going to do what it took to help the underserved and vulnerable, the folks who did not have a voice in the state. That's I think why he was at the Capitol. He believed in the people that he served and again the folks who didn't have a voice. If that meant crossing the aisle, he would do that. And if it meant, you know, raising the ire of some of the people in his own party he would do that. He was kind of a throw back in a sense when people did work in a bipartisan manner, in the legislature to do what they felt was right for the state. And that's what he would do.

Luigi Del Puerto: Jorge Garcia was the only Democrat who voted, the only one who voted for a Republican budget. And he voted for it because he thought that was the right thing to do.

Ted Simons: All right. We got to stop it right there. Great conversation. Thanks for joining us.

Mary K. Reinhart:Arizona Guardian;Casey Newton:Arizona Republic;Luigi Del Puerto:Arizona Capitol Times;

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