The surprisingly competitive battle for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat has become increasingly personal, with each of the candidates making an issue out of their opponents’ character.
Republican Rep. Jeff Flake has run several ads attacking Democrat Richard Carmona as someone with anger issues who has problems working with women. Carmona’s campaign has, in turn, portrayed Flake as dishonest.
The latest ad from the Carmona campaign turns two of Flake’s biggest backers against him. It features footage of Arizona’s two current Republican senators, Sen. John McCain and retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, praising Carmona in 2002 at confirmation hearings for Carmona to become surgeon general.
“Dr. Carmona’s inspiring story is the living embodiment of the American dream,” McCain said. “He’s one of the most decorated policemen in Arizona.
“One might call him a man for all seasons,” Kyl said. “His unique background will serve him well and serve us well.”
“Dr. Carmona is extraordinarily, perhaps uniquely, qualified to address the needs of our nation,” McCain continued.
“I join my colleague in strongly recommending him,” Kyl added. (RELATED: Kyl, McCain hit back, call new Carmona ad ‘deeply dishonest.’)
“Our nation will gain an invaluable leader,” McCain concluded.
Both McCain and Kyl have endorsed Flake in his bid for the Senate.
The “unique background” that McCain and Kyl pointed to is the same thing that the Carmona campaign cites as explanation for why the polls are so tight in a Republican-leaning state.
McCain and Kyl pushed back on the ad in a statement calling it “deeply dishonest” for Carmona to run an ad making it seem as though they supported his candidacy.
An ad released by the Flake campaign earlier on Thursday attacked Carmona’s character, calling him a “bully” who “demeans women,” pointing to an incident last week when Carmona told a male debate moderator that he was “prettier” than Candy Crowley. The Flake campaign is also running an ad featuring Cristina Beato, Carmona’s former boss, who alleges that he has issues working with women and once pounded on her door in the middle of the night.
The Carmona campaign has denied those allegations.