Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords conducted a whistle-stop tour of District 8 on Aug. 27, labeling her newly chosen Republican opponent Jesse Kelly "an extreme guy.
"The choices we have this fall are some of the starkest choices you're going to see in any election," the two-term Democrat told a Marana audience. "Paton (Jonathan, the defeated Republican targeted by the Democrats in the primary election campaign) and Kelly are both so extreme, running against either one of them would have been fine for me. … This guy is way too extreme for this district."
She characterized Kelly as supporting corporate tax breaks, and wanting to reduce taxes for millionaires.
"He wants to risk Social Security," Giffords said. "In this district? Are you nuts? He wants to eliminate it, do away with it, phase it out."
Kelly is "a blind follower to this extreme ideology," Giffords said. "It's wrong for the district. Those are not our values."
Giffords described herself as "one of the most moderate members of Congress." On certain issues, she and others "like myself cross over and vote with Republicans. I've looked my Democratic leadership in the eye, on a variety of occasions, and said 'no.'"
Now, she said, Republicans are "not crossing over and voting with us."
This campaign, people are "going to be barraged" with "national attack ads against me," Giffords said. "I apologize."
Republicans and Democrats should be "working together, non-partisan, bipartisan. You're not going to see that from my opponent in the next few months."
Kelly is "a different sort of opponent" than Tim Bee, her last opponent, who was an elementary school classmate of Giffords and who is what she called a moderate Republican.
Giffords was running late for her appearance at the Continental Ranch Community Center. Before she spoke, a video was shown in which teachers, ranchers, business people, veterans, law enforcement personnel and Maranans who Giffords helped get out of a Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain designation praised Giffords. "Gabrielle Giffords gets it," they proclaimed.
Giffords said she's demonstrated "my job is to be your voice in the Congress. I don't care if you're a Republican rancher or a Democrat, my objective is to work for you, regardless.
"It's important to listen and to learn, to realize compromise is important, and talking things out is important," Giffords said. "I don't hear that from the other side."
Giffords mentioned accomplishments by the Congress, among them a new GI bill of rights, closing of the "doughnut hole" for Medicare recipients, an increase in the minimum wage, and legislation bringing $600 million to border security.
Arizona has been "punished" for border buildups in Texas and California. Illegal trafficking has been "funneled to Arizona. We have to stop this problem. It's a result of inaction by the federal government."
The border is the #1 subject Giffords hears about from constituents. "We need to do everything we can do to secure this border, to figure this problem out. That's our top priority."
Giffords said Arizona needs to be "taking advantage of this solar economy." And she wants to make sure Arizona gets its fair share of federal spending. "Those federal dollars, I want them coming back here" where they are generated, she said. Giffords has voted against pay raises for the Congress, and won't take campaign contributions from firms or institutions that request federal dollars.