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Democrat Senator Mark Kelly Criticizes His Party On Response To Southern Border

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Democrat Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, who just scored a victory in his reelection campaign, tore into his own Party and its response to the Southern border. In an interview with Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty on Monday, he said that his Party was “not even close” to comprehending the issues at the Southern border.

After his victory, the reporters asked him what the “lessons for other Democrats going forward, especially when it comes to what it takes to win in hard places?”

“When you’re running for the United States Senate or any statewide office, you’ve got to go and talk to everybody and talk to them about things they care about, whether it’s the cost of gasoline or, especially in Southern Arizona, about the border, which is a crisis,” the Senator said.

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“You can’t ignore that in Arizona. It’s been chaos down there at times, for decades,” he said.

That prompted the reporter to ask about the Southern border.

“Speaking of the border, do you think Democrats nationally have recognized the complexity of the issue and the frustrations that people have?” she said.

“Absolutely not. Not even close,” the senator responded.

“When I first got to Washington, it didn’t take me long to realize that there are a lot of Democrats who don’t understand our southern border and a lot of Republicans who just want to talk about it, don’t necessarily want to do anything about it, just want to use it politically,” he said.

“So my approach has been — to the extent that we could and can — to make progress on securing it, but also doing it in a way that’s in accordance with our ethics and our values, not to demonize people.
And I continue to talk to my Republican colleagues about how we have to do more. We have to do more in border security. We have to do more in comprehensive immigration reform, especially “dreamers,” but also these visa programs. If you’re a farmer, especially in Southern Arizona, despite having a ready supply of eager workers, you don’t have the visas available and it’s a problem for them,” the senator said.

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‘But when I talk to my Republican colleagues who are not anywhere near a border — let’s say they’re in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee — they have the same problem. So there are solutions and we’re continuing to work on this. Our country would really benefit from stronger border security and comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.

The senator offered some praise for the Republican Party too.

“This will probably surprise you to hear this from somebody who’s a United States senator who’s a Democrat, but we need a strong Republican Party in Arizona,” he said. “I think the two-party system that we have, we’ve got a set of checks and balances against each other and I think that’s important to have that. And I would like to see that in Arizona again.”

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During the campaign, Kelly spoke to CNN host Jake Tapper on his “State of the Union” show and he did not sound like someone who wanted the president campaigning for him.

“Would you want President Biden to come to Arizona and campaign with you?” the host said.

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“Hey, I’ll welcome anybody to come to Arizona, travel around the state at any time, as long as I’m here. If I’m not up in Washington in session. And talk about what Arizona needs. This water situation is significant. And right now we have some of the tools necessary to deal with it. I’m trying to get some answers from the department of interior on more – like what authority do they have to make some decisions themselves on this because, as I said earlier, the other states are not stepping up to help Arizona deal with this. But if anybody wants to come to Arizona and talk about Arizona issues or issues that affect the country, I’ll be here,” the senator said.

“That’s not exactly an open invitation to President Biden to come and campaign with you, even though he won the state of Arizona in 2020, saying you’d welcome anybody. Do you have concerns about whether President Biden is the best candidate to keep Arizona blue in 2024?” the host said.

“Not at all, Jake,” the senator said.

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