McCain, Kyl livid over new TV ad

Posted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona is trying to win votes and score cash off two big-time Republicans who back his opponent.

On Thursday, the campaign released a new television ad featuring Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain praising Carmona during his 2002 Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. Surgeon General.

Carmona's wife, Diane, sent an email to supporters that included a link to where they could see the new commercial  and contribute to her husband, who is challenging Republican Congressman Jeff Flake for the state's first open senate in 18 years.

The ad begins with McCain saying, "Dr. Carmona's inspiring story is the embodiment of the American Dream." It then cuts to Kyl saying, "One might call him a man for all seasons. His unique background will serve him well and serve us well."

Despite the glowing descriptions, both senators endorsed Flake to replace the outgoing Kyl. Since the start of his campaign, Carmona has touted the personal story of his rise from a street kid in the Bronx to combat veteran, medical school graduate and eventually the country's top physician.

In response, Flake has attacked Carmona's resume. In recent weeks, the six-term Republican congressman has launched several ads questioning Carmona's dealings with women as well as his financial management skills.

Andy Barr, the communications director for Carmona, said they put out the ad to remind voters what two of Flake's biggest supporters were saying.

"Richard Carmona hasn't changed," Barr said. "It wasn't long ago these guys were recruiting him to run."

Carmona, who was a lifelong Independent, has talked openly about the efforts of high ranking Republicans like McCain and Kyl to persuade him into joining the GOP.

The ad prompted a sharp response from Kyl and McCain. In a statement sent late Thursday, they accused Carmona of twisting their own words to deceive voters.

"In a deeply dishonest new TV ad, Richard Carmona implies that we support his campaign for Senate. We do not," the two politicians said in a joint statement.

"It shows that he has no credibility, and it says everything the voters of Arizona need to know about Richard Carmona’s fitness for office. Jeff Flake is our candidate. He is a courageous, independent Arizona conservative - and he’s honest."