WINSLOW, Ariz. - Dr. Richard Carmona, candidate for the office of United States Senator from Arizona spoke to a sizable group of Winslowites at La Posada on Sept. 2. Carmona, a lifelong independent, is running as a Democrat.
Former Winslow Mayor Allan Affeldt introduced Carmona and said that he had one of the most outstanding resumes he had ever seen and was a man of intelligence and compassion. Affeldt said that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had been in Winslow in the 2004 campaign and Republican candidate Sen. John McCain had been in Winslow this year and before. He said that Carmona is one of the most intelligent and capable persons to come here and should be a formidable candidate.
Carmona has served in the Army in the Special Forces, as a combat decorated medic, after getting his medical degree as a trauma surgeon. He established the first regional trauma care system in southern Arizona. He served as a Pima County
deputy sheriff, detective and SWAT team leader. He became the 17th Surgeon General of the United States in 2002 under Republican President George W. Bush. After four years of a successful tenure as Surgeon General he returned to Arizona.
He said that when meeting groups for speeches and other reasons he often had to defend Arizona, which had become a joke for many because of extremist policies that are accepted in the state and even become law. He cited the assertion that college campuses would be safer if students were to carry firearms supported by more than a few state legislators.
"Conversations often come back to politics and how bad things are regardless of whether you are talking with republicans or democrats," he said. He continued that all issues seem to become political and that reasonable discussion is nearly impossible. "That is why I am going back into active duty in the senate if elected," he said.
Regarding the registration advantage republicans have in Arizona Carmona said that the race for senator could be a close one. He said that most independents and quite a few republicans would probably vote for him because they would be more agreeable with his positions on such things as health care, social security, taxes and women's issues.
Speaking of his life experience, Carmona said that he was the first generation of his family to speak English, but that he initially failed to be the first to graduate from high school. He joined the army but did then have to get a GED to qualify for Special Forces. After he came home he had friends who suggested that he should go to college rather than stay in the army as planned. He applied, mainly to silence those suggesting he go to college, expecting to be turned down. Most colleges did turn him down but one didn't and he went to school on the GI bill, which he still strongly supports. After graduation he went to medical school.
He has served in law enforcement and taught classes for law officers. He was serving as both a trauma surgeon and a law enforcement officer when he was asked to be considered for the post of Surgeon General. He had always been an independent and was surprised at the invitation. He became the first candidate for Surgeon General to be confirmed by 100 percent of the U.S. Senate.
"I was not the doctor for the Republican or the Democratic Party," he said, "I was the doctor for the people of the United States."
Looking toward the coming general election, he said, "Don't vote for me because the other guy is bad but because of what I can do for the country." He said that this is a crucial time in the country's history and that there will be important decisions to be made.
He noted that Rep. Jeff Flake and his opponent spent millions of dollars on negative ads against one another and that he had only ran one ad, which was not an attack ad but one about his experiences.
Asked how he would get people to talk honestly about issues and solve problems, he said that he had done so as Surgeon General. He cited an example as while in the administration of Republican George W. Bush he had gotten Ted Kennedy, a liberal democrat to join in supporting an important piece of needed legislation and getting it passed. He did agree that this was not an easy task and might not be possible on all issues.
During a question and answer period he was asked about the healthcare act known as Obamacare by opponents. He said that it has some good things but is too long and needs some improvement. He said that the United States is one of few countries without a health care policy and needs one to improve our health care, which is not what it should be.
Asked about Cuba he said that Castro has outlasted eight presidents and that our current policy has paid no benefits for our country.
Asked about medical marijuana and legalizing marijuana he said that the problem was that it had not been studied sufficiently and that facts need to be known before either action was taken.
Asked about immigration policy he said that both Bush and Kennedy had favored a path to citizenship and the Dream Act, which would not be a perfect solution but a good start. He said that a solution needs to be found and partisanship put out of the equation. This would be an area where bipartisanship should work if put into practice.
Asked about the Citizens United Decision of the Supreme Court he said that it was one of the worst decisions ever. The decision allows corporations, unions and virtually anyone or group to contribute to political groups without identifying themselves.
Finally, asked about taxes, he said that there needs to be some intelligent tax reform. He said that General Electric is one of the most profitable businesses in the world yet has enough loopholes to pay no taxes.