Arizona Senator Martha McSally talks 2020 Democratic primary, Prescription drug pricing & her 2020 opponent
Guy Benson: Joining me now is Senator Martha McSally, Republican of Arizona. Senator, great to have you back on the show.
Sen. McSally: Hey, guy, glad to be back. Thanks for having me.
Guy Benson: So let's talk policy first, then a little bit of politics. I see that you have signed on to this bipartisan bill on surprise medical billing, which may not sound terribly exciting to people, but a top concern of so many voters is the rising costs of health care in this country. There's a massive debate about what to do on health care policy. This is a piece of legislation that you are now signing on to and you're advocating for it. Talk about why.
Sen. McSally: Yes. Thank you, guy. Look, everywhere I go around Arizona. We're a very diverse state. But the out-of-pocket costs of health care is a top issue. And when I ask people, have you gotten a surprise medical bill? Of course, most people answer because we feel like every medical bill we get is a surprise Bill. But we're specifically talking about here is when you go in for a surgery and you do your due diligence and you go to an in-network doctor or hospital, but then you find out later that, you know, some provider, the radiologist or anesthesiologist was out-of-network. And because of the dispute between the insurance company and a hospital, you end up getting a bill sometimes thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in the mail. And I have had constituents who had to sell their homes, who've been in financial distress over this. And it's got to stop. So there's a couple of different models. Everyone agrees that we need to take the patient out of the equation, that they should pay something that is reasonable. They did their due diligence and the fight between the rest of it needs to be between the insurance company and the providers. So this legislation, which is bipartisan, actually addresses that and basically forces the insurance companies, the providers to sort it out and stop putting it on the backs of hardworking families and patients.
Guy Benson: We've had Senator CASSIDY from Louisiana on this show talking about it. This is he's the lead sponsor on this bill. You mentioned that there are some Democrats who are in favor of it as well. Are you optimistic that in an election year where it seems like no one really wants to give anyone a win, so to speak, that this can actually pass in that type of environment?
Sen. McSally: Well, I have to wake up every morning optimistic as what gets me out of bed, you know, to serve our country and deploy to Washington, D.C.. There has been some movement and conversation between the House and the Senate. They had different versions, slightly different versions in the House. But I do believe that we are going to continue to put pressure that we have to address this. It shouldn't be held political hostage because the Democrats don't want to give President Trump a Republican to win. They're actually hurting their own constituents. So the more we can put public pressure on them to do the right thing, it's just like passing USMC. They took forever to do it. It's good for America. It was good for their constituents. And their vitriol and hatred for this president is so bad that they're often willing to, you know, hurt their own constituents. So they should stop doing that and work with us to get this on the president's desk.
Guy Benson: Senator, for those of our listeners who aren't in Arizona may not be as familiar with your background. You were in the House of Representatives before you were in the Senate. You served for 26 years in the U.S. Air Force and you were the first ever female fighter pilot to fly in combat. I mentioned that because I was watching the Democratic presidential debate the other night in New Hampshire and it was on ABC News. Three of the Democrats were asked specifically about the strike that took out Suleimani, the Iranian terrorist leader. And every Democrat who was asked about it opposed that decision by the president. And I wonder what you make of that.
Sen. McSally: It was unbelievable to me, guy. I was watching it, too. And I couldn't believe that they can't see straight that anything President Trump they're against. This was the main terrorist leader left alive on this planet, the largest state sponsor of terror. He's the architect of it. Over 600 American soldiers have been killed because of his very specialized IED. Hundreds of others were wounded. If you see a wounded soldier, if you see somebody with a prosthetic or missing a limb and they were in Iraq, it's highly likely it's because it cost them Suleimani. And the fact that they could not agree that given his terrorist record and their continued belligerent attacks and approach towards us in the region, killing another American, attacking our embassy, that with this specific intelligence, with no collateral damage, they would not have been willing to take them out. It just shows how weak the Democrats are on these issues. And I certainly wouldn't want any of them to be my commander in chief.
Guy Benson: Were you surprised? I mean, you know, it's I was sort of waiting for at least someone up there to say, actually, maybe this is a good thing that this happened. And it was a worthwhile decision, because you remember in the hours and days, Senator, after that strike took place, there was widespread discussion among supposedly serious people that this could be putting us right on the verge of World War. 3. And it didn't really pan out that way. Is there any accountability for the people who were so hyperbolic and fearmongering in the reaction of this this this strike that took out such a huge terrorist who has the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands, on his hands, or at least he used to before he was liquidated by the United States military. Is there any accountability for the people who said all this is this is really scary and Trump really has done something reckless here when it looks actually with a little bit of distance now, like it was, of course, the right thing to do.
Sen. McSally: Well Guy the accountability is at the ballot box. And their reaction and their response was so troubling to me again as somebody who served. And I really thought that. I mean, Mayor Pete, the veteran, I thought of anybody he would stand up and say this was the right thing to do. The reality is this is a body blow to Iran and their terrorist activities in Iraq and Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas and their threat to Israel. This man is irreplaceable and they should have come together with us and united behind this being the right decision. Just like Republicans did when President Obama took out Osama Binlaudin the and we we disagree with him on nearly everything, but we were willing to stand with him in America on that decision. And I think this accountability is going to come in November because of the way they reacted with so disturbing and so bizarre. It was almost like they were wishing that we tripped into conflict with Iran. And in fact, President Trump has shown tremendous restraint. I was over in the Straits of Hormuz in October on a destroyer and on a carrier in the Gulf of Oman. And I visited the Saudi Aramco facility. Twelve days after the strikes happened. This is a very volatile time. And President Trump showed incredible restraint, but also resolve at the right time against the right terrorist leader. And I really think the Democrats overreaction to this will hurt them in November.
Guy Benson: So a little bit on politics here. Speaking of November, you lost by a microscopic margin the Senate race last cycle in 2018 to Kristen Cinema. But then there was an opening when John McCain passed away. You were appointed to that seat. Now you're up for election this coming fall. Tough fight. The leading Democrat is Mark Kelly. He's raising a huge amount of money. The National Party is behind him. And, you know, your state is is redish still, but becoming increasingly purple. Look at the polling and it's it's tight. Mark Kelly was asked by a few different news organizations about the prospect of maybe Bernie Sanders being at the top of his party's ticket in the fall. And he gave multiple answers to that question regarding Bernie. Here's a little bit a taste of that in cut 42.
AUDIO CUT: Bernie Sanders wins. Are you going to support someone who just described herself, describes himself as a democratic socialist? Well, he's going to win first. And when we get there, we'll see, you know, how how was this campaign conducted? And at some point in the future, I'll make a decision. But philosophically, on philosophical grounds, democratic, socialist. And Mark Kelly, where are you? I'm a capitalist. And I did circle back with Kelly's campaign to ask about the differing statements. And this is when we got that third answer campaign telling me that it is Kelly's intention to support the Democratic nominee.
Guy Benson: So at the very end there you got that reference to he was asked this type of question multiple times and he gave ultimately three different answers on the Bernie Sanders question. I wonder what you make of that.
Sen. McSally: Well, guy, this is the first time he was even asked a hard question in a year. He's been hiding in a bunker raising, you know, 20 million dollars. The media is just fawning all over him. Nobody asked him a hard question. And finally, he showed his true colors that he would be Bernie Sanders. Fifty first vote in the Senate. His entire path to victory is trying to pretend he's not a Democrat. So he can win over center right leaning independents and moderate Republicans who may not like President Trump tweets or demeanor, pretending he's not a Democrat. But those people are not for socialism. They are not for what Bernie Sanders and the hard left wing are selling. And people need to wake up and realize that Mark Kelly's first vote is to decide the power in the Senate. He just made a rookie mistake. He's never been vetted, never been tested, and he can't even get his story straight. But when he finally did, he said, I'm for Bernie Sanders if he's the nominee. And Arizona needs to know that and make sure that they send me back to the Senate to hold the line as the thin red line for the Senate majority in the fall. We are ground zero and Chuck Schumer is going to have to pry that Senate majority out of my cold, dead hands.
Guy Benson: And it's also a lot of judges are on the line, no doubt about that. There are the stakes in the Senate are extremely high. The stakes are high for all Americans if you have a socialist president. What do you think? What do you think? A president? SANDERS What impact that could have on your state.
Sen. McSally: It would be devastating. He's devastating for the whole country with you know, with just 51 votes in the Senate and the House, they will just. Ram through their hard left wing agenda, whether it's the government takeover of health care, open borders and free health care for all illegals, the green bad deal. You know, government run utilities, you know, all the socialist policies that you hear the left peddling. Keep the original socialist. And it's his party now. And this would be so devastating for Arizona families and seniors and businesses. Things are going good in Arizona. In America, we are optimistic. We have opportunities to keep it going. But it would just be horrific if Bernie Sanders or anyone like him from the Democrats were in charge and we lost the Senate majority, which is why the Senate is so important. The other flip side is, of course, President Trump won the election and we don't hold on to the Senate because we're on defense this year. He's not going to be able to get one more judge through. They're gonna do constant investigations, obstruction, more impeachment. That's why it's so important that we hold the line.
Guy Benson: Speaking of the president, he is heading soon to Phenix for one of his giant rallies ahead again of the neighboring caucus in Nevada. Coming up over the weekend, it seemed like the president really is doing a lot of these events in those states and around those states just to sort of remind folks, hey, I'm still here. Some counter-programming drawing really big crowds. Talk about the president's impact, in your opinion, on this race.
Sen. McSally: Well, I really look forward to welcoming President Trump back to Arizona. He came out to campaign with me in 2018 for a rally. He won our state by three and a half points, guys. So we can't take anything for granted. We have a lot of rural communities who often don't vote in midterms. About 200,000 Trump voters who stayed home in the midterm is going to rally them out and more. And we're winning people over every single day. But we can't take anything for granted. We've had a lot of California refugees move into Arizona because of the failed policies in California, and they don't think and change their voter registration at the border, though. We've got to fight for every last vote. And I think, you know, President Trump is going to drive out his base, bring over some disaffected Democrats and independents. And look, I have a broad coalition. It's not that everybody who votes for him is that they love every way he carries himself, but the results are real and strong. We're lifting people out of poverty, getting them off the sidelines, rebuilding our military, securing the border. That's what Arizona wants. And they certainly don't want a socialist agenda in the White House.
Guy Benson: Last question you hear around town, people sort of gaming out these Senate races and this, okay, the Democrats really are on defense in Alabama and the Republicans are really on defense in Colorado and maybe Arizona. And they say, gosh, you know, the polls Mark Kelly's doing well of the fundraising. I know that's a lot of noise and you can't focus on it. But also it's something that can shape certain narratives. What's your response to those types of maybe not whispers, but some of the concerns you're hearing from national Republicans?
Guy Benson: Well, sure I look, we raise more money than any other senator last year. I'm a one year senator. So I've done my part where I've built we're building strength around the country. It's the out-of-state liberals that are funding Mark Kelly's campaign. California, New York. And, you know, there are elites there. And we've just got to make sure that he's not allowed to, as Chuck Schumer's recruit, allowed to be able to prevail. He won't be asked a whole lot of hard questions. Things are structurally in our favor. In twenty eighteen, we had a 10 month campaign from a cold start with a late primary. The people voting six weeks later. We're now been a senator. Last year, I passed more bills into law tied with Chuck Grassley than any other senator. And so I'm showing results. We're showing that we're making a difference and we're asking people to join our team. They can get some exatly for Senate dot com, but they want to volunteer and contribute literally about the resources. At this point, we know exactly what we need to do. And don't be fooled by the handpicked, you know, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer candidate. They go, oh, he's an astronaut. Well, you know what? I'm a fighter pilot. And I had to break barriers for a lot of women and girls in order to serve as well. And I hope people see that and are willing to stay with us so that we can hold the seat.
Guy Benson: Yeah. And look, it's a very different election, a very different climate, a very different electorate in 2020 versus 2018 as well. But as you said, it's going to be a real fight. We appreciate you coming on the program. We look forward to watching that rally out there in Phenix this week. Senator Martha McSally, Republican in Arizona. Senator, thank you so much.
Sen. McSally: Thanks, guy. Talk to you soon.
Guy Benson: You bet. We'll take a quick break. Stay with us as we will continue next.