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CD8 special election

Barber talks Social Security to seniors

Democrat makes first stump stop since Kelly's GOP primary win

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Ron Barber, the Democratic candidate in the CD8 special election, spooled up his campaign on Thursday in his first stump appearance after Jesse Kelly won Tuesday night's GOP primary.

In front of a crowd of about 30 at a retirement home on the Northwest Side, the former Giffords staffer spoke of Social Security, border security and class security as keys to his campaign, and repeated his call for civility and respect in the election contest.

Barber may not be casting slings and arrows from the lectern, but in an email — signed by Barber — sent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday morning, the Dem hopeful went after Kelly's positions on Social Security, the minimum wage and Medicare. Barber didn't offer his own stance on those issues in the email. The only position taken by Barber's camp was that his campaign needs more money — it called for gifts of $3 or more to fund a grassroots campaign against Kelly.

Over the course of his speech, Barber repeatedly said that he is not seeking to "replace" former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who stepped down in January, but to carry on constituent services and advance his own political agenda.

"This is not Gabby's seat. This is not my seat. This is the people's seat," Barber said.

But the same DCCC email, sent one hour before Barber's speech, said "We simply can't let Jesse Kelly finish Gabby's term in Congress."

Barber also reminded the crowd that the shooting that eventually prompted this special election happened "not far from here." Barber himself was shot twice in the Jan. 8, 2011 attack that killed six and wounded 13.

Barber echoed the theme that Giffords used to challenge — and narrowly beat — Kelly in 2010: that the Republican candidate, who was backed by the Tea Party, wants to end Social Security and Medicare.

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Barber's campaign website, which had been a simple splash page until the GOP primary result was known, now boasts a six-page "Issues" section that lays out policy differences with his opponent without mentioning him.

Over the 45-minute presentation Thursday, Barber told the crowd that he wants to preserve Social Security as a means of protecting senior citizens — many of whom depend on it as their sole income in retirement.

According to the Social Security administration, the average monthly payout for a benefits-eligible retiree is $1,230 in early 2012, or $14,760 per year. The federal poverty line for a household of two people in 2011 was $14,710, and $10,890 for an individual, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Barber said that both Social Security and Medicare need overhauls, but said that the privatization of Social Security was not a good option.

"People can't rely on the stock market for their retirement," Barber said, citing the risks of investing and the stock market crash "not so many months ago."

He also said that while he disagrees in part with the now-embattled Affordable Health Care Act, he supports most of the bill — especially COBRA options for dependents into their mid-20s and no limits on lifetime payouts.

Barber also said he favors a "boots-on-the-ground" approach to border security, although he said he would prefer the boots worn by U.S. Border Patrol agents over the National Guard. He called for more forward operating bases, more horse patrols and mobile surveillance to keep illegal entrants, including cartels, out of the country.

In spite of a Latin American movement in recent months to decriminalize the production and sale of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, as a means of controlling violence and weakening cartels, Barber said "that's not what I'm about."

Barber said if he's elected he would push for legislation once supported by Giffords that makes it harder to move money for drugs south of the border.

Kelly has also called for more people on the border, as well as a double border wall. Both camps are quick to talk about ranchers on the border living in fear of cartels and human traffickers, citing the Krentz murder nearly two years ago as evidence of escalating violence in the region.

The special election is on June 12, early voting begins May 17. Both Barber and Kelly are also running for the newly created CD2 seat this fall.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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3 comments on this story

3
1460 comments
Apr 20, 2012, 7:34 am
-0 +0

First off, thank you Mr. Seberger. Most reporters in this town are pretty quick to defend Democratic candidates. It took some balls for you to do the right thing and point out the inconsistencies developing in Barber’s message and campaign. Props to you.

One inconsistency that wasn’t fully pointed out, however, is about Barber talking about how badly he needs money. It’s been addressed in several previous stories that he’s leading all of his republican opponents, by quite a significant margin, in fundraising.

So in reading this, it does appear that he is taking the same low road that Muffy Giffords did in the last election…take a Kelly sound byte or two, heavily edit it and grossly twist it until it is no longer close to what he said, and run with it. It’s really easy to get in front of a bunch of seniors, tell them your opponent is threatening Social Security, and use that fear you just created to get their vote. So many seniors were brainwashed by these lies, including my own mother I’m ashamed to say. Muffy Giffords used this fear tactic and unfortunately for us all it worked. I hope that CD8 is smarter than that this time around and doesn’t fall for it again.

The truth of the matter is that Social Security is indeed a ponzi scheme that’s destined for inevitable failure, and we do indeed need to start developing an exit strategy. However, no one is ever going to get away with depriving people of what they’ve already paid into the system, so no one is ever going to try that…not even Kelly. And, even when some sort of exit strategy is developed, there is no way it would ever be set into motion while any of the seniors Barber was speaking to are currently alive.

2
399 comments
Apr 19, 2012, 3:10 pm
-0 +2

@RRowleyTucsonAz

You repeatedly repost the exact same comment on multiple stories. If you have something original to say, please join the conversation. Overposting is not only a violation of our User Guidelines, it’s the easiest way to get other readers to ignore whatever points you’re trying to make.

As it says in the sidebar, “Don’t bore people and waste electrons with identical comments on multiple stories or repetitive comments that don’t advance a conversation.”

Thanks!

1
5 comments
Apr 19, 2012, 2:36 pm
-2 +1

Jesse Kelly??? You want THIS to represent you???

Article: Citizens United Endorses Jesse Kelly in Special Election http://j.mp/w4YGg8
      About “Citizens United”: http://j.mp/zz409s

Article: CD8 candidate Jesse Kelly’s and Tea Party’s economic platform similar to Communist nations http://j.mp/zBKXth

Article: CD8 Republican Jesse Kelly Calls For New National Sales Tax http://j.mp/xNFoui

Article: Giffords Opponent, Jesse Kelly, Held June Event to “Shoot a Fully Automatic M16 to “Get on Target” and “Remove Gabrielle Giffords” http://j.mp/zsqdwJ and http://j.mp/A5to9a

Article and Video: Jesse Kelly: “Oil Is A Renewable Resource” http://j.mp/xlm23i

Article:  Jesse Kelly Supported by Groups Tied to White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis http://j.mp/Ax5lXO

Letter:  Tucson Tea Party Co-Founder: 13 Questions for Jesse Kelly that must be answered before you vote http://j.mp/zCtsMM

Simply put, Jesse Kelly has neither the brains, credibility or honesty for public office, the will for fighting or the compassion to represent the people of southern Arizona either CD8 OR CD2.

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Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.com

Democratic CD8 candidate Ron Barber speaks to about 30 people at a retirement home in Tucson's Northwest Side on Thursday.

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