Kelli Ward: 'We Cannot Change Washington Unless We Change The People We Send There'

Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 - 6:49pm
Updated: Friday, August 26, 2016 - 7:59pm
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Lauren Loftus/KJZZ
Former state Senator Kelli Ward visits the KJZZ studios ahead of her GOP Primary election race against U.S. Senator John McCain on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Kelli Ward is the challenger against incumbent Sen. John McCain in Tuesday's primary election.

Ward is a former state senator and an osteopathic physician.

KJZZ's Phil Latzman spoke with Kelli Ward on Thursday about her goals if she were elected to office.

Interview highlights

Why would a successful doctor want to get into the sometimes unhealthy world of politics?

"You know I never thought that I would run for office, really. I had been active. My husband and I actually met because we were both active in medical student politics within the medical profession and so we were kind of activists for our career and for that the people that we served and for our patients. But Obamacare was the thing that pushed me over the edge to actually run for office because Arizona was contemplating Medicaid expansion which is part of Obamacare and Obamacare state-based exchanges and there were no conservative voices for  healthcare in the state legislature at all."

 Is getting Obamacare repealed on the top of your priority list if elected to the Senate?


"Of course I like to say when I'm elected. But yes it is something that is important to me. The first policy proposal  that I made during this campaign swing this year is the Patient Power Plan which is a full repeal of Obamacare, including all the taxes and the regulations that go along with it. That's going to save our country billions of dollars if not trillions of dollars and more importantly my plan puts the power of healthcare back where it belongs."

In the year since you announced this challenge to Sen. McCain have you exceeded your own expectations for this campaign.


"You know, it has been amazing. Really, I have met so many people all over the entire state and the outcry is they want to change Washington, D.C. And we all know we cannot change Washington unless we change the people we send there. Sen. McCain has been there for almost 40 years. At this point he's going for his sixth term, he's been in the Senate for 30 years and he's telling us I'm  going to finally secure the border now. I'm going to finally fix the VA now. I'm going to finally take care of our economic problems, nobody believes him."

User Carl on Twitter asks this:

 He's referring to Robert Mercer who's a huge GOP donor and a hedge-fund billionaire who supports Donald Trump and also gave $200,000 to your campaign recently.

"I haven't been deriding the super PAC process itself. I've been deriding what the Arizona Grassroots Action PAC has been willing to say, total lies. Sen. McCain, his MO has been for years to lie, scare people,  and spend a lot of money to hope that he stays in Washington and the Arizona Grassroots Action PAC has delivered that to him. Had they been propping up John McCain and talking about his extremely wonderful record, which we all know that doesn't exist, that would be different than coming out and saying that I'm anti-military, when my husband's in the military."

In essence what you're saying about Super PACs is really the case here with this donation that you recently got from this New York hedge-fund billionaire. So where's the difference?

"The difference is in what the message is. I'm not in charge of the super PAC. I have nothing to do with the super PAC, but I think that their message is that we have a confident qualified capable person who's ready to do the job in Washington. Whereas the Arizona Grassroots Action PAC has been the wood chipper of politics designed to attack my character, my integrity, my honor and my record in ways that are completely untrue in order to maintain the status quo in Washington, D.C. and to send 80-year-old John McCain back to Washington to serve us supposedly from the age of 80 to 86 on the national and international stage."

And if you lose, which I know you don't want to think about, but do you just go back to practicing medicine? What's next for Kelli Ward if things don't work out?

"I have an amazing life. My faith, my family, my profession are so important to me. Who wouldn't love being a wife and a mom and a doctor. Those things are more than enough. But I do think that I have some skills and some talents and some abilities that would be beneficial for the people of Arizona and the people of our country that I could put to work for a short period of time in Washington because I do believe in term limits. I'm not going to stay there anymore than 12 years and I think John McCain is the poster boy for term limits. So I look forward to on August 30 giving John McCain the best 80th birthday present ever, the gift of retirement and giving Arizona and our country to put everything back on the right track."

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Hear the uncut version of KJZZ's interview with Kelli Ward