In a state of such indescribable beauty, Arizona voters are on the brink of participating in the sunset of one era of politics, where backroom deals and career politicians have become a ruling class in America. They are in the potential final hours of darkness, created by out-of-touch representation of people who have spent more time in Washington D.C. than in their home state.
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While one “political sun” is setting, a new day is dawning for conservatives in Arizona as State Senator Dr. Kelli Ward challenges long-time Senator John McCain in his reelection bid in 2016.
Dr. Ward, a primary care physician who focuses on emergency and medical care, has represented District 5 in the state legislature since 2013. She is using her state legislative experience, harnessed by the love for her state, country and fellow citizens, to take on Sen. McCain. Ward embodies the spirit of our nation’s forefathers by staying in touch with her community as she serves them at the state capital. When the Senate is not in session (requiring her to be present at the capital), Dr. Ward still serves her community in Lake Havasu City and the surrounding area as an emergency room physician. While so many politicians are making a career in politics, Kelli Ward remains an active participant in her district as a citizen.
Recently I spoke with Kelli Ward about her race against John McCain and her goals for becoming the next Senator from Arizona.
TD – Talk about why your race in Arizona against John McCain is so important to conservatives throughout the United States.
Kelli Ward – It definitely is. For me, if we had a Senator who represented Arizona’s values I wouldn’t be contemplating this, but, I think that 30 years in Washington D.C., 30+ years changes a person and rather than representing Arizona’s values, our values, the Beltway values and the establishment values, have become what we have to get used to. Basically, D.C. being represented in Arizona, rather than Arizona being represented in D.C. So that is what I am striving to do. To become a candidate that represents the people of Arizona and the conservative values that so many of us share. The reason it is so important nationally, not only in Arizona but nationally, is that Senator McCain gives a lot of cover to other republicans to vote the wrong way. The way their constituents don’t want them to vote but maybe the way special interest want him to vote. He has been there a long time. People tell me all the time, ‘He is such a powerful Senator, it’s a shame for Arizona to lose that’. That power isn’t being used for Arizona and for the people of Arizona. That power is being used to get more power for one person. That isn’t good. That isn’t good for our country or for our state. I hear every single day, ‘It is time for new, fresh leaders’; ‘it’s time for people with a backbone’; ‘it’s time for people who aren’t career politicians’; ‘the elite politicians’. It’s time to change this ruling class that we seem to have in the United States, which we aren’t supposed to have, based on our Constitution and get new people in there, to change the direction of our country in a much better way.
TD – You are a doctor, a mom, a wife, and a State Senator. If you replace McCain as Senator, how will you avoid the DC power brokers and elitists who are going to tell you, ‘This is how you do it here…” In other words, how can you assure your constituents that you will not become a part of that establishment?
Kelli Ward – Yes, it is funny because throughout my whole career, because I didn’t think I was going to be a part of the political arena. As a female physician, I would get asked those questions, ‘how do you balance all those things’. I was always active in medical student politics, in professional politics once I got into my practice. I felt it was very, very important to be a person who helped to make things happen, in the best way for my profession and not be a person who complained about things that happened to me. I knew I had to be at the table or you were on the table. So I have always been a multi-tasker. Even from the time I was a kid. I did all kinds of things throughout school. Maybe that was God’s way of preparing me to do this.
Being in the State Legislator was completely new. I think being a family physician has uniquely prepared me. I am a generalist. I know a little bit, about a lot of things. I know I need a consultant. I have had lobbyists my entire career, they’re called pharmaceutical reps. (laughter) I can utilize the skills from my practice. As a legislator, I am a generalist. There are some things that I have areas of expertise, obviously healthcare and healthcare policy. I have a Master’s Degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy. As well as my sixteen years of experience taking care of patients and some experience in healthcare education. Being a Director of Medical Education, helping to run two residency programs and being on faculty at two Osteopathic Schools in Arizona. Those things have lent a lot. Being a generalist in the (Arizona) Legislature, realizing I don’t know everything, some of the legislatures and Congressmen think once they are elected they know everything. I know this isn’t true. I know when I need a consultant; I reach out into my own district and state to find those answers, not to the special interest or even in the legislature to other members. I want to know from people in the trenches. I don’t ever want to say to someone, “hey, look at this great law we did for you” to then have them say, “no, look what you did to us”, because nobody took the time to talk to the people in the trenches. I think we are seeing that with Obamacare. No one ever bothered to ask the doctors in the trenches.
TD – As a physician, what are some of your plans relative to Obamacare?
Kelli Ward – I definitely think it needs to be repealed. I think it is a huge, big government program that is extreme government overreach into our everyday lives. To think that the government can tell us, we have to buy a product, and it has to have this, that or the other, whether we want it or we need it, is appalling in the United States, a place of freedom and liberty. So I would say, it definitely has to be repealed.
We have to get the free market back into health care. There has to be transparency, at the hospital level, at the individual doctor, practice level in terms of how much things cost and how much are you going to have to pay for those. There has to be buy in by the people who are going to be getting those services. They should be able to look for the best services, at the best price to get what they want to get. So there has to be some competition as well. Right now what we have is the government tells us what we need and what we are going to get or not going to get. That is no way to do business. I believe in the health savings accounts. I believe having the health savings accounts allows people to have money, have a tax advantage as well and then to utilize that money to get the services they want and need. Having a catastrophic care, major medical policy. So there still will be self insurance, however it will be insurance in the traditional sense, where you use it only when there is an emergency. Where if you have a terrible illness, or you have a car accident or even in pregnancy, those kinds of things will be covered by that insurance. Right now, health insurance is not insurance. When you buy car insurance, you buy it because 1.) You have to have it and 2.) You buy it because you are hoping you never have to use it, but you want to have it just in case.
Same with life insurance. Nobody’s saying hey I’m buying life insurance, I can’t wait to use it!! (Laughter) Health insurance has come to be something people say, “I have health insurance. I can go to the ER for my skinned knee or I will get this extra test, because my deductible is paid off” and it increases the cost of the health care system, to something we see is not sustainable.
TD – Immigration and border problems have plagued Arizona for many years. John McCain talked a good story about protecting our borders but nothing has really happened. Now it’s to the point where people are losing their lives on an almost weekly basis. What will you be able to do for Arizona, and our country?
Kelli Ward – We have got to secure the border. We have to use an all the above strategy. So, that means to me, you look at the terrain, you utilize the physical barriers that are appropriate for that terrain. Whether that is a fence in some places, whether it’s just cameras in some areas, whether it’s actually having people on the border, keeping people from coming in (the country). Right now, we have a problem with the faucet being left on and the sink is overflowing. Now, if you have that happen at your house, you wouldn’t start talking about which paper towel, sponge or mop will work the best. You would say, “I better turn the faucet off” and that is what we have to do first. Senator McCain claimed he wanted to build the fence, we wanted to believe him, because that is what we want. But as soon as he was elected, he said “let’s get this Gang of 8 amnesty bill”, that has hundreds of billions of dollars for illegal immigrants for welfare, in it. It’s not what the people want and thank goodness, The House had the wherewithal, to stop that in its tracks. It was just not good. We have to secure the border and secure the border first.
I talked to Sheriff Joe yesterday, and it was interesting because no one is talking about the recidivism of the illegal immigrants who are coming here. He has seen people in his jail, 10 times, 20 times, a couple of recent shootings of police officers, he has seen those criminals, those illegal aliens, in his jail 3 or 4 times. But, he turns them over to the Federal authorities and they either don’t deport them, they just let them out the back door, or they just come right back in because our border is just so insecure.
TD – Agencies like ICE have complained that their hands are tied in red tape regarding their ability to hold illegals in custody only to have to release them right away and watching them come right back into our country. How do you propose helping agencies like ICE via deportation and keeping them out of the country?
Kelli Ward – Number 1, when people come to the border, we should be able to turn them away immediately. Just because someone comes, they should not be able to come in and get all of these rights to our legal system and to be in the country, a lot of times for years, before their “supposed” court date if it will ever come up. Then, they don’t show up and they are then lost. We can’t pay any attention to them. There has to be a lot more cooperation between the states and the Federal government. Or, better yet, turn that enforcement over to the state, so that the people, who truly want to enforce those laws, are able to do it. I just don’t think the political will is there, at the top, to enforce our existing immigration laws. So, I know at the state level, look at Arizona, look at Texas, there is a will to control illegal immigration and to deport people who should not be here in our country. The lack of political will is at the Federal level. It is in both parties, unfortunately, as we saw with the Gang of 8. On the Republican side, it was a pretty low number, it was only 14 Republican Senators, who had to vote with all the Democrats to push it through and it get it through the Senate. So it was basically a small number of Republican Senators, who basically sold out the American people and were willing to push for amnesty. The majority of the Republicans, in the Senate, didn’t want it.
I think, as long as the states are following the Federal law, which we were doing in Arizona. Even SB1070 was basically a strengthening of existing Federal law. But we wanted to allow our local and state authorities, to be able to enforce those laws. I see nothing wrong with that. It’s all hands on deck. We have a crisis going on in immigration right now.
TD – You have been vocal about the NSA in the State Legislature. If you make it to the Federal level, what are some of your plans to try and handle potential violations of the NSA?
Kelli Ward – I am a strong supporter of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I have sponsored a Second Amendment Protection Act, as well in Arizona, every year I have been in the Legislature and I have been disappointed because I can’t get enough Republican support to push it through. A couple of Republicans are always willing to join with the Democrats to thwart those efforts. Even against something like the Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.
In terms of the NSA, I think that we are being led down a path that we should give up our privacy, in exchange for some type of security. We see it with TSA. Look at TSA, how many attacks has TSA actually stopped? I don’t think any. But they sure have stopped things up at the airport and made it difficult and made it uncomfortable to travel. Same with the NSA. We can’t allow law abiding, American citizens to be spied upon by our government. I can’t believe we have to even talk about it. The Fourth Amendment does exist. As you know, big government will always push, push, push, the limit. When I am in Washington, I will be pushing back. I will be fighting for privacy rights, for law abiding, American citizens.
TD – Great! We will hold you to that.
Kelli Ward – Yes, please do. I told somebody yesterday, they said, “we are going to hold you to it”. I said, “Please do”. That is the only way we have good government. For me, I try to be very responsive to people. At the state level, I would do that going on to the Federal level. If you don’t have that two way communication with the people who represent you, and not just from the 40 or 50 staff people that our Senators have, but actually having that back and forth with the people who represent you, it is difficult to have good government.
TD – If you win the Senate seat and end up in D.C., how will you maintain your value, your integrity, your balance, so you lose sight of what “real life” is all about? It is difficult to imagine John McCain, a Washington insider for 30 years, going to Costco or Target. You lose perspective when you go to D.C.
Kelli Ward – Right now, I’m wearing my (hospital) scrubs from Wal-Mart. And they are cute! (Laughter) I am just a normal, person. I haven’t changed from being in the Arizona Legislature. I don’t plan to change when I go to Washington D.C. I think that just sending the right people there (D.C.) who have the right reasons. For me, I don’t want to stay there forever. I’ve already pledged to people, if I am so blessed to become elected this time, I wouldn’t for more than one [additional] term. Twelve years total. There are plenty of people who are great leaders. Who are just a little bit behind me? Who are ready to come up and take the reins, after that much time? For me I think, OK. John McCain has been in that seat for thirty years. Who have we missed? Who is now in their 70’s or 60’s or 50’s, who didn’t have the chance to take those leadership roles, and run with them and take this country in a different direction? I also wonder, why do you need six more years? You had 30 years, what can you do with six more? I think it’s to strive to do something different. To look for new ideas, new perspectives. I haven’t seen any new ideas out of John McCain, in I don’t know when.
I’ve got lots of good ideas about welfare reform, social security disability system, about Medicare/Medicaid reform. Things that from the ground, from the trenches, make sense and will allow America to be sustainable in those kinds of programs. But also, for our entire population to have prosperity. Right now we are in a cycle of whatever money comes in, in the Disability/Social Security system, we are immediately spending it. There’s no saving, there’s no investments, so there is no prosperity. We have to change that.
TD – You recently told Mark Levin you operate on “faith, not fear.” How will you apply that process in D.C.?
Kelli Ward – One thing, I pray about a lot of things, everything, all of these important decisions. I try to follow the path that I believe that Jesus and God are leading me on. That is why I have the faith and not the fear. I am a happy person. I am a joyful person and I don’t want to lose that. Even when I went into medicine, I’ve met a lot of doctors, who some of them should retire because they don’t like people or they’re grouchy and mean. People come to us, here in the Emergency Room or in our offices, as doctors, not because they want to but because they have to and they are in need. That is kind of what I think of at the legislative level also. People are coming because there are things that they need. There are things that are in turmoil, at times and how can we deal with those things. I think being a mom, is the greatest thing in life. (Laughter) I love being married. I love my husband. But I love our kids. I am so glad I am able to have the opportunity to preserve liberty, to preserve freedom for them and for hopefully, my future grandkids. You can’t do it if you are fearful. You can’t do it if you are beholden to anyone, special interest, big donors, to corporations. The only way you can do it is if you are truly free, you have a backbone, you are always looking to do the right thing.
TD – Where can people find you and is there anything else you want our readers to know about you?
Kelli Ward – kelliward.com. Facebook: KelliWardforArizona Twitter: kelliwardAZ. You have to remember, it’s Kelli with an “I” because “I care about the people”.
I want all people, but especially women, to know that you can do anything you set your mind to. The sky is the limit and don’t be afraid. If somebody wants to run for office, don’t think the people who are in office are some kind of special people. We are just normal people too. There are skills and talents and abilities everyone has been blessed with and finding the way to use those, to help others around, either to accomplish as much as they can or to do good for them is what we are supposed to do with it.