Sen. John McCain had a testy exchange with constituents at a town hall in Tucson on Tuesday in regards to his support for comprehensive immigration reform.
As the audience grew more and more angry, the Arizona senator made the argument that the border near Yuma Arizona was largely secure and calls for mass deportations were not based in reality.
“There are 11 million people living here illegally,” McCain told the crowd. “We are not going to get enough buses to deport them.”
According to a report from The Associated Press, one man yelled that only guns would discourage illegal immigration. Another man even argued that illegal immigrants should never have the chance to become citizens or vote. As the discourse began to deteriorate, a third man said illegal immigrants were “illiterate invaders” who wanted free government benefits.
In one particularly tense moment, a man attacked McCain directly.
“I remember when you were in bed with [former Massachusetts Sen. Edward] Kennedy,” the man said.
“In bed with Kennedy? Thank you,” McCain replied. “That conjures up a specter that I have to reject, sir. Thank you for the compliment.”
“Cut off their welfare and all their stuff and they’ll go back!” the man yelled. “You said, ‘Build the dang fence.’ Where’s the fence?”
McCain then pointed to a chart showing that millions of dollars were being put towards building fences along the Arizona border.
“That’s not a fence!” the man shouted.
“Oh, that’s not a fence? It’s a banana,” McCain quipped. “We’re putting up a banana with about $600 million of appropriations we have.”
In some additional footage provided by CNN, McCain’s frustration with the man was clear, saying, “I’ve had town hall meetings for thirty years. People are very happy I have town hall meetings and I listen to them and I get back to them and that’s what this is all about. But occasionally I get a jerk like you here.”
Following the event, McCain lost his patience with a reporter from KPNX after he asked about obvious tensions that clouded the meeting.
“You want to tell a story that there was somehow a problem here at this town hall meeting,” McCain said. “That’s the story you want to tell. It’s not true. It’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years, long before you ever came to the valley.”
Watch the KPNX broadcast in the video below.