Governor irked when asked to weigh in on Flake, McCain comments on Trump

Gov. Doug Ducey: “We’re getting things done in the state of Arizona. I challenge Washington, D.C. to get something done.’’ Photo by Howard Fischer

Gov. Doug Ducey: “We’re getting things done in the state of Arizona. I challenge Washington, D.C. to get something done.’’ Photo by Howard Fischer

SCOTTSDALE -- Gov. Doug Ducey won’t add his voice to that of two other top elected Arizona Republicans in criticizing President Trump.

The governor on Wednesday dodged multiple questions about what he thought of the speeches by John McCain and Jeff Flake, the state’s two senators, chiding the president for creating a toxic political atmosphere. Both said Trump was more interested in finding scapegoats than solving problems.

And during his Senate floor speech on Tuesday, Flake specifically called out those who are “compromised by the requirements of politics’’.

“Because politics can make us silent when we should speak,’’ the senator said. “And silence can equal complicity.’’

But Ducey, asked if his failure to speak out as the senators have done makes him “complicit,’’ instead responded, twice, with a criticism of the federal government. And the governor was visibly perturbed when told none of that answered the questions about his silence about Trump.

“Yes, it’s answering the question,’’ he snapped.

“We’re getting things done in the state of Arizona,’’ Ducey said. “I challenge Washington, D.C. to get something done.’’

The governor’s comments -- or lack thereof -- come on the heels of two high-profile speeches by the senators pushing back against Trump, his policies and his behavior.

It started with a speech by McCain last week while he was receiving the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia from the National Constitution Center.

He specifically lashed out at the change in direction in foreign policy that he said are based on “some half-baked spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.’’

Flake picked up on that theme with his Tuesday floor speech where he spoke about the “undeniable potency to a populist appeal’’ that he said resulting in “giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle.’’

That, he told colleagues, “threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people.’’ And he had a specific warning for fellow Republicans, saying “those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.’’

But Flake did not stop there. He also spoke out against “the coarseness of our leadership’’and “the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.’’

Ducey, reminded of the statements after a speech Monday -- and specifically about Flake’s statement that “silence can equal complicity’’ -- was not interested in expressing his own views.

“You know, I hear a lot out of Washington, D.C.,’’ he responded. to the question of whether his silence makes him complicit with what’s going on in the nation’s capital.

“I don’t see much action,’’ the governor continued. “What I’d like to see is some results out of Washington, D.C.’’ he said in response to the question about whether his silence puts him into that category.

Pushed further, Ducey said the country is “bigger than one person.’’ And he sought to compare what he said is the gridlock at the nation’s capital with what he said is being accomplished on a bipartisan basis in Phoenix.

“I don’t see any of that coming from Washington, D.C.,’’ he said. “I, like many other Americans, are just tired of it.’’

Ducey also said he has no interest in joining in the hunt to replace Flake, preferring to seek reelection next year.

“I love being the governor,’’ he said.

“I always think it’s kind of a silly question,’’ Ducey continued. “Why would anybody ever leave this job to go work in Washington, D.C.?’’

And Ducey said he is unlikely to throw his support behind anyone in the GOP primary.

Ducey also responded defensively to questions about reports that some of his staffers have been given double-digit raises since he took office, even as the governor was offering teachers just a 2 percent pay hike at the rate of 0.4 percent over five years. Lawmakers were more generous, compressing that 2 percent increase into just two years.

“That’s complete misreporting,’’ the governor said, calling them “two different topics.’’


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