Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut and Navy captain vying to fill former Arizona Sen. John McCain's seat for the next two years, told the hosts of "The View" that he knew running for the Senate would be risky, but he's done riskier things.
"You have to evaluate the risk and reward. It's not the reward for me personally, it's for the country," said Kelly who appeared on "The View" Wednesday morning alongside the show's co-host Meghan McCain – the daughter of the man whose seat Kelly hopes to win. "I've done risky things in the past, I flew in combat over Iraq and Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. I flew the space shuttle four times. I understand there's risks."
Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., became a strong advocate for gun control in the aftermath of a failed 2011 assassination attempt on his wife. He launched his campaign on Twitter with a video alongside his wife.
“It turned out Gabby was the one with the riskier job,” he told the hosts.
Kelly also weighed in on the current political controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and discussion of Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
"Before I went into the Navy, I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States. The president did that as well. I don't think it's a good idea to have a conversation with a foreign leader about your political opponent," Kelly said. "I think the rule of law is important. The rule of law holds our democracy together. It's serious. It should be investigated. This is going to take time. There's a lot of details still going to come out."
Now, as the 2020 election cycle heats up, the state of Arizona is waiting to see who will fill the seat until the formal election in 2022.
Republican Sen. Martha McSally was appointed in late 2018 by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to hold the seat after losing her bid for the state's other seat.
Kelly said he’s looked up to McCain since he was in combat school, especially learning about the lawmakers time as a prisoner of war. When Kelly decided to run for the Senate, he called Meghan McCain with the news, as she shared on the show.
"He was the model of how you honorably go through a situation. Its not often you get to meet your heroes, but its less common you get to be their friend," he said. "That's why I reached out."
In the aftermath of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Kelly and Giffords both resigned from their positions to co-found the organization GIFFORDS, an organization focused on preventing gun violence. Last month, at least eight 2020 Democratic candidates appeared in a video for the organization sharing plans to curb gun violence.
"My first gun is the one my dad gave in my flight school. It's the gun I flew in combat with in Iraq. I probably own more guns than your average Arizonian," Kelly said. " There are very common sense things we can do that most Americans, most Arizonians, support like background checks for all gun sales, red flag laws, stronger domestic violence legislation."
Kelly served two deployments during the first Gulf War before being appointed by NASA to serve as an astronaut alongside his twin brother Scott. He has spent more than 50 days in space.
The former astronaut also spoke on the climate control issue. While in space, he said he saw a first-hand view of the changes in the forests, especially in the Amazon. He told the hosts that the U.S. needs to find a way to transition from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources.
"When you get into space on your first flight, a couple hours later you get to look down at planet Earth for the first time," Kelly said. "Make no mistake, we have no place else to go."
Kelly said that while he's running on the Democratic ticket, he doesn’t want to get caught up in a political storm. He said he wants the people to vote for who they believe in, not the political party.
"Well, I worry about both political parties, trying to make sure that the person who gets elected vote with them on every single thing,” he said. “I feel like you want people to be independent.”