PRESCOTT - U.S. Sen. John McCain, Gov. Jan Brewer and other Republic candidates drew an enthusiastic crowd Thursday morning as they criticized their Democratic opponents and pressed the flesh.
"We are going to win in November," McCain told supporters in a packed hallway inside his local campaign headquarters in the Elks Opera House building. His communications director, Brooke Buchanan, estimated 90 people were in the building.
"I guarantee you this will not be a vote for (Democrat) Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House," McCain continued. "This will be a vote for (House Minority Leader) John Boehner for speaker."
McCain, who prevailed over former congressman J.D. Hayworth in the Republican primary Tuesday and faces Democrat Rodney Glassman in the Nov. 2 general election, called for supporting Brewer.
He said Brewer has faced "enormous challenges," and drew applause for praising Brewer for "standing up" to President Barack Obama on state Senate Bill 1070, which cracks down on illegal immigration. Obama defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
But while McCain sounded partisan notes, he said during an interview that he would be willing to work on the other side of the aisle with the Democrats, as he has on immigration and campaign finance reform.
However, he added, "We are not going to compromise our principles."
McCain, Brewer, congressional candidate Paul Gosar, Secretary of State Ken Bennett and state Treasurer candidate Doug Ducey arrived at the Elks building after 9 a.m. for the Victory Tour. The tour arrives this morning at the StoneRidge Golf Club in Prescott Valley.
Brewer, who ascended to the governorship in 2009 from secretary of state after Obama appointed Janet Napolitano secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, attacked her Democratic opponent, Attorney General Terry Goddard.
Referring to the conservatives' terms for climate change legislation and health care reform, Brewer said, "Terry loves 'cap and trade.' He loves Obamacare."
She also criticized Goddard for opposing SB 1070.
Goddard has attacked Brewer for her support for private prisons in light of the escape of three inmates from a private prison near Kingman. The prison's operator, Management & Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, considered Fain family land outside Prescott Valley for a private prison nearly three years ago.
"I have called for a review top to bottom," Brewer told the Courier. "Private prisons were in place when I arrived on the job. It is something that we are not going to tolerate," referring to the escapes.
Brewer also signed posters that liken her to Rosie the Riveter, the cultural icon from World War II.
Like Brewer, Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist who bested seven rivals in Tuesday's primary, raised border security as an issue. He said the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, is a latecomer to the border issue.
He was the first candidate to arrive at the rally. During an interview he defended his endorsements from two controversial Republican politicians - former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - saying they speak "their minds."
He also called for overhauling health care reform by increasing competition in the insurance industry and making it more difficult to sue doctors (tort reform).
Rally participant Richard Batchelor, an Air Force veteran and retired pilot who lives in Yavapai Hills, showed support for Gosar by wearing a shirt that said, in all capital letters, "Hey Ann, which way to the exit?"
The rally drew at least one Independent: Suzanne Cook, who is retired from a career in human resources and moved to Prescott from Los Angeles four years ago.
Cook said she showed up out of curiosity, adding she admires Brewer for her tough stance on illegal immigration.
"It is a fact that drug cartels are coming across (the border)," she said. "I don't think anyone could deny that."