May 13, 2010
by Jonathan Cooper
PHOENIX — Three years after dismissing the effectiveness of building a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, Arizona Sen. John McCain is airing a campaign ad in which he declares: "complete the danged fence."
The 30-second ad shows McCain walking along Arizona's southern border with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and ticking off crimes potentially associated with illegal immigration, including drug and human smuggling, home invasions and murder.
Babeu replies, "We're outmanned," and touts McCain's border-security plan. The ad ends with the sheriff telling McCain that "you're one of us."
In a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair, McCain suggested a border fence wouldn't be much help in securing the border, saying: "I think the fence is least effective. But I'll build the g--d----- fence if they want it."
Brian Rogers, McCain's campaign spokesman, said the senator has long supported a fence but recognizes that it must be used in conjunction with other tactics, particularly in remote desert areas. Rogers pointed to a 2007 compromise immigration reform bill, which McCain co-sponsored, calling for 370 miles of fencing.
The ad, which has been airing in Arizona for about a week, has been subject to ridicule online and on cable television, in part for its contrived dialogue. U.S. Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., shared a laugh with hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" after watching the ad Thursday, and the Democratic National Committee released a statement saying McCain's tactics "reek of political desperation."
Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth is challenging McCain from the right for the GOP nomination in an August primary. His campaign has attacked McCain's record on illegal immigration, among other issues, and says he has "flip-flopped" on the border fence issue.