Three weeks from the Republican primary in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional district officially determines his opponent, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Barber weighed in on the race, his likely opponent Martha McSally, and reflected on his predecessor, Gabby Giffords, in the latest installment of ABC’s “14 For 14 Hot Seat” interview series. The segment is part of ABC’s “14 For 14″ project, which is tracking 14 crucial contests across the country between now and Election Day.
Barber is running for this congressional seat for the third time in two years, and McSally, his presumed Republican rival, is no stranger to him. In fact, she almost bested him in 2012. With the power of the Republican establishment and the Koch brothers behind her, the former Air Force colonel says she is intent on snatching the seat back for Arizonans sick of a broken Washington. In the ABC interview, the congressman said McSally is going to have to finally answer some serious questions about her positions.
“My likely opponent has been running away from questions from the media, does not hold meetings where she can be asked questions, or if she is, she leaves because it’s not something she wants to do,” Barber said. “She simply refuses to take a stand, even on the most important issues of our time.”
Barber also opened up about being asked to run for the seat by his former boss, Gabby Giffords, when she made the decision to retire from Congress in the wake of the deadly Jan. 2011 shooting in Tucson that claimed the lives of six people and injured both Giffords and Barber.
Here’s an edited transcript of five questions we asked the U.S. House member while he sat in the “14 For 14″ hot seat:
1. What do you want voters to know about your likely opponent, Martha McSally?
My likely opponent has been running away from questions from the media, does not hold meetings where she can be asked questions, or if she is, she leaves because it’s not something she wants to do. She simply refuses to take a stand, even on the most important issues of our time, even on the government shutdown, where she’s not willing to say which way she would have gone on that issue.
2. Your district borders Mexico. Has Obama done enough to secure the border?
The people who live on the border–the ranchers, the business people, the retirees–they don’t want to have cartels coming through their land, through their homes with backpacks of drugs and heavily armed. They want this country to take up its responsibility: the federal government needs to secure the border, and it’s been a failure of leadership on the part of the White House, the President, and the Congress in doing this.
3. Can you tell the story of former Rep. Gabby Giffords asking you to run for her seat?
I have actually encouraged her to stay and to fulfill the rest of her term, but she felt that the citizens that sent her to Congress had given her a year to get back on the job, and since she couldn’t get back on the job 100% and devote herself to her rehabilitation, she would step down. When she turned to me and said, “Would you do it?” I have to say my heart stopped. I had never expected to run for office.
4. What’s your greatest weakness?
My staff would probably tell you that I don’t want to leave events very quickly, and they’re always pushing me to get me out the door. In some ways I’m doing to my staff what Gabby did to me. She did the same thing; I could never get her out the door, ’cause she always had one more question, and that’s kind of who I am, as well.
5. You like rock music. What was your first concert?
First concert I ever went to was a group called The Yardbirds. Eric Clapton is the lead guitarist. Those of you out there who are from my age group will remember that–well certainly Eric Clapton is somewhat well known today–but I’m kind of a rock and roller at heart, and I love that music.
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