Stanton defends Trump impeachment vote in debate with Giles, knocks coronavirus response
Rep. Greg Stanton stood by his support for impeaching President Donald Trump on charges of obstructing justice and Congress last year, saying he followed his conscience on what seemed straightforward evidence to him.
Stanton, a first-term Arizona Democrat,also took a dim view of the response to the coronavirus pandemic by Trump and Arizona authorities during a debate Tuesday with Dave Giles, his Republican opponent in the Phoenix-based 9th Congressional District.
"A review of the evidence, I don't think that anyone could come to any other reasonable conclusion that he was guilty of those charges," Stanton said on Arizona PBS (Channel 8). "I didn't do any polling. ... You've got to do what is right and let the political chips fall where they may."
Giles called the impeachment an ill-timed waste and defended Trump.
"The impeachment process was a complete waste of time and money," he said. "That money could have been better sent to people that needed COVID relief."
Giles defended the president's response to the pandemic, noting Trump's travel ban from China early on and said the economy is returning to its previously strong form.
Giles deflected the question of whether voters want Trump after he allegedly disparaged U.S. troops, calling them "losers" and "suckers," as reported by The Atlantic magazine.
"I think the residents are smart enough to realize that you've got the media making a mountain out of a molehill on stuff. You're taking things out of context. The man loves America."
Giles and Stanton agreed, at least partly, on the future of the Affordable Care Act. Giles said the public needs to see better choices in insurance and the ACA will become irrelevant. If it is struck down by the Supreme Court, Congress will still protect pre-existing conditions, he said.
Stanton said he doesn't share such optimism. He said other Republicans want to get rid of the law, something the high court may do, and that no viable replacement is on the table.
Giles, a businessman and pastor, said, like Trump, he will donate his congressional salary to charity because he doesn't need it.
By contrast, Stanton said Trump "sadly has abdicated leadership" on handling the pandemic. He similarly criticized Maricopa County for not establishing a more robust contact-tracing program and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey for not ordering a statewide mask mandate.
"... My critique is that too many of our leaders followed politics," Stanton said. "They didn't want to take on people they consider part of their political base, and instead kind of took the easy political approach, not the scientific approach, and Arizona got hammered worse than almost any other state."
Stanton is seeking a second term in Arizona's 9th district, which runs through north-central Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler.
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Democrats have won all four of the congressional races, with then-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema winning the first three before jumping to the Senate and Stanton took her place in the House.
Stanton, the former mayor of Phoenix, gained some prominence in his freshman term as a member of the House Judiciary Committee that led Trump's impeachment last year.
Stanton has pushed for infrastructure investments as a member of the House Transportation Committee, though congressional Democrats have not been able to reach a sweeping deal with the White House on large-scale changes.
Giles is making his third bid for Congress. He lost to Sinema in 2016. He sought the GOP nomination again in 2018 but lost the Republican primary to Steve Ferrara, who wound up losing to Stanton by 22 percentage points.
Giles is again largely funding his own campaign. He had about $10,000 in cash available at the end of September. By contrast, Stanton had nearly $800,000 as of mid-July.
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