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Arizona Republicans censure Senator McCain as too 'liberal'

U.S. Senator John McCain gestures during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2014. REUTER
U.S. Senator John McCain gestures during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2014. REUTER

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Republicans on Saturday censured U.S. Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee, for a record they called too "liberal," in a sign of continued distrust some party members in the state have for the so-called political maverick.

The resolution passed by a voice vote at an Arizona Republican Party meeting of 1,600 committee members at a church in Tempe, Arizona, said Tim Sifert, a spokesman for the state organization.

"Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both," the resolution stated.

It went on to reprimand McCain, who has served 27 years in the Senate, for "a long and terrible record of drafting, co-sponsoring and voting for legislation best associated with liberal Democrats."

The resolution condemned McCain's role in helping to craft a bill that passed the Senate last year that would provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million illegal immigrants, which the state Republicans called "amnesty."

Among the other complaints against McCain in the resolution were his support for funding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and positions he has taken on gun rights.

McCain, 77, who has said he might run for re-election in 2016, was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986.

President Barack Obama in 2008 defeated McCain, the Republican's nominee, in the race for the White House.

The subtitle to a 2002 autobiography McCain co-authored calls him a "maverick," a moniker also used at the time by 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and he has become known for his willingness to work across party lines.

A representative for McCain could not be reached for comment.

But former Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, also a Republican, told the Arizona Republic the vote as not representing the will of most Republicans.

"I've gone to dozens of these meetings and every now and then some wacky resolution gets passed," Kyl told the newspaper.

At the meeting, the state Republican committee members also voted their support for abolishing a 1913 amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrined direct election of senators by the public, said a spokesman.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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