In a doofy attempt at political theater this morning, former Congressman J.D. Hayworth marched into the Phoenix campaign office of Senator John McCain to hand-deliver a note challenging Arizona's senior senator to a series of debates as the two battle in a heated GOP primary.
As far as we can tell, phone lines were working properly today, as well as fax machines, e-mail, and the U.S. Postal Service. But J.D. still felt the need to hand-deliver the letter in front of the local media and about 40 of his supporters.
McCain, however, wasn't even there.
Because of intense media coverage, Hayworth admittedly knew McCain is in Washington D.C. today, participating in President Obama's healthcare summit.
When asked why he chose to so publicly deliver the letter on a day he knew "The Maverick" wasn't even in town, Hayworth chalked it up to scheduling conflicts.
J.D. wrote off accusations that the whole scene was a publicity stunt by suggesting that any other method of delivery wouldn't guarantee that McCain received the letter. So what better way to extend an invitation for debate than trotting down to his campaign headquarters, barging in the front door with the media in tote, and handing a nervous receptionist a letter?
He didn't even have the courtesy to jot down his name in the office's sign-in book. We checked.
"Former Congressman Hayworth's desperate publicity stunt today re-emphasizes what this race is all about: Who will be most effective for Arizonans in the U.S. Senate," says Brian Rogers, McCain's communication director. "While Senator McCain is today leading the
fight on behalf of Arizonans to stop the government takeover of our healthcare system, Mr. Hayworth held a press conference in our campaign parking lot."
Rogers goes on to say that McCain welcomes any certified debate.
During the press conference Hayworth held after delivering his letter, reporters seemed more interested in whether Hayworth was a "birther" than the political stunt he had just pulled or the debates he requested.
As usual, Hayworth managed to shuck and jive his way out of the "birther" accusations without actually answering the question of whether he is one.
Hayworth's presser gave New Times a chance to ask him poin-blank about an endorsement he picked up from the anti-illegal immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration.
On Tuesday, the McCain campaign advised Hayworth to disavow the endorsement because of support the group has received from racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the national Socialist Movement.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Hayworth tells New Times he has no plans of disavowing the endorsement because the organization is in good standing.
Try telling that to the Anti-Defamation League.
Hayworth says the claims against the ALIPAC are just a "shrill and desperate attempt" by the McCain campaign.
If so, where on the desperation chart would J.D. rank marching into an opponent's campaign office -- when the guy isn't even there -- to deliver a letter in front of every media outlet in town?