Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) got an earful at a town hall in Tucson on Tuesday over his support for comprehensive immigration reform.
As members of the audience became more and more angry, the Arizona senator explained that the border near Yuma was largely secure and mass deportations did not make sense.
“There are 11 million people living here illegally,” he told the crowd. “We are not going to get enough buses to deport them.”
“One man yelled that only guns would discourage illegal immigration,” according to The Associated Press. “Another man complained that illegal immigrants should never be able to become citizens or vote. A third man said illegal immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits.
“I remember when you were in bed with [former Massachusetts Sen. Edward] Kennedy,” one man said.
“In bed with Kennedy? Thank you,” McCain laughed. “That conjures up a specter that I have to reject, sir. Thank you for the compliment.”
“Cut off their welfare and all their stuff and they’ll go back!” the man insisted as the audience applauded. “You said, ‘Build the dang fence.’ Where’s the fence?”
At that point, McCain pointed to a chart showing that millions were being spent to build fences along the southern border.
“That’s not a fence!” the man shouted.
“Oh, that’s not a fence? It’s a banana,” McCain quipped. “We’re putting up a banana with about $600 million of appropriations we have.”
Another person was angry that there were not more armed troops on the border.
“If you look at the Constitution of the United States, we are not allowed to have an armed militia on our border,” McCain said. “Because that’s what our founding fathers wanted. Your problem is with them, not me.”
Following the event, the former Republican presidential nominee lashed out at a reporter from KPNX after he asked about the tenor of the event.
“You want to tell a story that there was somehow a problem here at this town hall meeting,” McCain said. “That’s the story you want to tell. It’s not true. It’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years, long before you ever came to the valley.”
Watch this video from KPNX, broadcast Feb. 19, 2013.