It was a perfect Saturday afternoon for a speech on the Prescott Courthouse steps; a fortunate turn of weather for Congressman Jeff Flake who arrived as part of his Arizona tour to present his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
Senator Kyl announced a little more than a year ago that he would not seek re-election in 2012. Four days later, on February 14, 2011– not only Valentine's Day, but also the date of Arizona's 99th birthday – Congressman Flake held a press conference, and also posted on Facebook, "I am announcing today that I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012... Arizona must continue to be the state where the beauty of the sunset in the evening is only surpassed by the splendor of the sunrise the next morning."
"I’m all in," Flake wrote at the time. "I look forward to a spirited campaign."
And so, Flake came to Prescott this weekend, joined by his wife, Cheryl and five children. Cheryl spoke about what she admired in her husband and why she supported his decision to run for Senate. Arizona State Speaker of the House Andy Tobin also came to endorse Congressman Flake's candidacy, stating, "This guy, he believes in what we believe in here. And if you get to know him... it's about country over self... We demand courage over convenience. We demand freedom over politics. And we demand free enterprise over Obamacare...We know what it's like to put together a budget. It seems that the United States Senate has completely forgotten that, and in more than a thousand days, they just can't even bring themselves to do it. Part of this battle in 2012... is changing that Senate. And sending members like Congressman Flake to do what? Actually pass a budget. And that's what this young man will do for us."
When Flake spoke, he pointed out that there have been only ten U.S. senators in Arizona's history.
"We have a $16 trillion dollar debt," Flake stated. "It has doubled just in the past few years. We have a deficit this year of $1.3 trillion dollars. That will add to the $16 trillion dollar debt. That is big. It's tough to fathom how large that is... We've got to change direction... We have a Senate that has not passed a budget in over 1000 days. That's over three years. Somebody mentioned the other day, that when the Senate last passed a budget, the iPad hadn't even been invented yet. Now we're on the third generation. And we still don't have a budget out of the Senate. When the President proposed a budget a couple of years ago, it was taken to the floor of the Senate and put to a vote. Guess how many votes it got? Zero. Not one. Not one person in his own party would support that budget. It's not a serious proposal. The President has not been serious, nor have the Senate Democrats about getting control of this financial crisis."
Acknowledging that not all the blame can be laid on the Democrats, Flake admitted, "We were headed towards this financial cliff long before President Obama took the wheel... What we need is people to stand up and say to their own party, and the other party, 'You're going in the wrong direction and you've got to change.' ...We've been trying for three years to convince this President that he's going in the wrong direction. And Harry Reid that he's going in the wrong direction. And we haven't been able to convince them. But the good thing about an election year, is you don't have to convince anybody any more, you just have to replace them."
See Congressman Flake, Speaker Tobin and the Flake family below:
Afterwards, when asked about the those that came for the campaign stop, Flake responded with a smile, "This was great, it was wonderful to see so many people here and an enthusiastic crowd; and these are just great people up here."
Speaking about why he came to Prescott, Flake said, "Well, this is the place where it all happens. Barry Goldwater launched his campaign here, John McCain has done the same, and many important campaigns have been launched here. So, we just had to do it. I love being here."
Sounding confident, Flake said that he believes Republicans can take a majority in the Senate in November, "If we hold all the Republican seats Republican, then we just have to pick up four seats, around the country. There are 23 senate seats defended by Democrats this year, because they had such a good year in 2006. Now, with Olympia Snow retiring, it makes it a little more difficult, that one will not go to a Republican, more than likely. I'm just disappointed that there will never be a Snow Flake bill now. But, with that aside, so we'll in all likelihood have to pick up 5 seats. But when you look at Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, even Hawaii as a possibility, we can do it."
As for Republicans holding on to Congress, Flake isn't concerned about that. "I think that one's good. We'll pick up a couple of seats because of redistricting in Texas, and as the population shifts in the more conservative south, and southwest, then we do better."
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