Lake confronts Gallego over border, Senate race at Phoenix airport
Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake confronted a possible general election opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), at an Arizona airport on Thursday, blasting him with criticism over the border in an on-camera exchange later posted on social media.
The exchange took place after Lake and Gallego found themselves on the same plane landing in Phoenix.
Lake had posted criticism about Gallego and the border on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, and the Democrat quickly responded.
“We’re on the same plane! Just come back from first class to coach and we can chat. Happy to walk you through all my legislative work to deliver key resources to AZ’s border communities,” Gallego wrote after Lake tagged him in a post criticizing him for “facilitating an invasion” at the border.
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The two then held a discussion after exiting the plane that was caught on camera.
Lake was also wearing a microphone during the exchange. It is unclear if Gallego knew he was being recorded, though he had invited the discussion with her.
“Arizonans don’t care about Kari Lake’s airport ambush,” said Hannah Goss, Gallego’s campaign spokesperson. “They want to know why she supports dangerous abortion bans that would risk the lives of countless women.”
Gallego opened the discussion by saying he was looking forward to the Senate race. “We met once when you were still actually on TV,” he told Lake, a former television broadcast journalist. “I think we’ll have a great race.”
Lake responded in a video, obtained by the Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet, saying, “It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out.”
File – Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor, (left) poses for a photograph prior to a PBS televised debate Wednesday, June 29, 2022, in Phoenix and Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., (right) is seen in the U.S. Capitol, July 14, 2022, in Washington.
Gallego, in response, shrugged his shoulders and raised his arms.
“Unfortunately, our border is wide-open. You and Kyrsten have had a lot of time to do something about it, and even the Democrats are upset about it, Ruben,” Lake said.
Gallego is running as a Democrat for the seat now held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who switched from a Democratic party identification to independent at the end of last year. Lake has filed paperwork to run as a Republican, where she would face primary challengers.
“Little keyboard warrior Ruben Gallego challenged Kari Lake to come talk to him on a plane when he spotted her. So she did just that. And now he cries to the New York Times,” a spokesperson for Lake said in reference to a piece published Thursday by the Times.
The spokesperson added that she “won’t back down to Ruben Gallego or anyone else who’s trying to destroy Arizona and America.”
In the conversation, Lake targeted Gallego’s home district, which is centered around downtown Phoenix, saying in “your district … people are dying on the streets” and that Gallego has “the fastest growing homeless population in the country.”
The Arizona lawmaker repeatedly interjected to say “our state” in discussing the border issue, in an apparent effort to seek some common ground in the discussion on solving problems. He also mentioned at one point that his district is one of the fastest-growing economies.
At various points in the conversation, Gallego told Lake the two should be able to have a civil discussion and sought to defend his work. Lake took a much more confrontational approach, at points in the conversation telling passers-by that Gallego was responsible for the open border.
“This is Ruben Gallego. He’s trying to run for Senate. Our border is wide open. Fentanyl is killing our children,” she said at one point.
Gallego noted that most of the fentanyl entering the country is coming through ports of entry. Lake responded by saying “no, it’s coming from all over.”
The Hill has reported that 90 percent of fentanyl captured is being driven into he country through border crossing checkpoints.
Gallego offered to go to the southern border with Lake to visit with mayors in border communities. “This is something you and I can work together on,” he said.
“No, I’m not working together,” Lake said in response. “I’m gonna beat you. I’m gonna beat you and we’re gonna save Arizona.”
Sinema has not announced if she will be running for reelection. Gallego announced in January that he would be running and has raised $6.8 million in the race so far.
— Updated at 3:04 p.m.