Gabriel Gomez, the Republican nominee in the race for Secretary of State John Kerry’s old Senate seat, said Tuesday that he told veteran Sen. John McCain that he ought to have term limited himself out of the Senate by now.
Gomez’s opponent, Democratic Congressman Ed Markey, has been in congress for 37 years, something that Gomez repeatedly attacked him on in a debate Tuesday night. During a segment of the debate in which the two candidates got to ask each other questions, Gomez asked Markey if he did not feel that he ought to have left office by now.
“Congressman, you’ve been down there for 37 years … The president’s got term limits. Don’t you believe that Congressmen and Senators should be term-limited?” Gomez asked him.
Markey retorted that Gomez ought to ask McCain, who stumped for Gomez in May, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has been fundraising for the Republican Senate hopeful, that very same question. McCain has represented Arizona in the Senate for 26 years, and before that spent four years in the House. McConnell has been in the Senate for 28 years.
“Did you ask John McCain to leave the Senate?” Markey asked.
“Did you ask Mitch McConnell, tell him it’s time for him to leave the Senate as part of your ability to get support from them, to help you in this campaign?” Markey asked. “No, Mr. Gomez, you did not.”
Gomez said that, in fact, he had done exactly that with McCain.
“I did, actually, Congressman,” he said.
“You wish that you were running against Mitch McConnell or Newt Gingrich or even Gerald Ford, who was president when you first got down there, Congressman. But the reality is, you’re running against me, a first-generation American, one who is not afraid to tell his party when they’re wrong. They’re wrong on immigration right now. They’re wrong on gay marriage, wrong on expanded background checks, wrong on the environment, on global warming,” Gomez said.
Markey scoffed at Gomez’s claim.
“Mr. Gomez did not tell John McCain, ‘This should be your last term. You should just be leaving right now.’ … That never happened. That conversation did not happen. I think everyone here knows he did not tell McCain right now he should be finishing his career at the end of this term,” the congressman said.
“Are you calling him a liar?” asked the moderator.
“I’m saying that did not happen,” Markey replied.
“It absolutely did happen,” Gomez insisted after some more back and forth. “If you want to call me a liar, that’s fine.”
McCain communications director Brian Rogers confirmed that the conversation had taken place.
“Senator McCain did discuss the issue of term limits with Gabriel Gomez when they campaigned together last month,” Rogers told The Daily Caller via email. “They disagree on this particular issue, but agree on many others. Senator McCain believes that Gabriel Gomez represents the next generation of leadership that we need in the U.S. Senate.”