Carmona at my District Club

Richard Carmona’s campaign is still relatively new, and I think last night’s appearance at the District 28 Democratic Club is his first time addressing a Democratic Party group.

First off, the quote of the night:

I grew up swimming in the Harlem river. It’s why I’m so healthy. I was exposed to every imaginable pathogen early.

The Democratic activists in the room peppered him with questions. One was on the Rosemont Mine. At first, it looked like I would not be satisfied with his answer: he admitted to not thinking about it very much. Then, he went through a detailed explanation about how his thought process would be in weighing short-term economic benefits with the long term environmental consequences. He also said he’d like to hear how the company would perform remediation of the area after the mine plays out in ten years. I would have prefered a definitive “Hell, no,” but I’m happy to hear that environmental issues are a huge part of his thinking on the issue.

And, frankly, I think his thinking would lead him to the same conclusion about the mine that Gabrielle Giffords, Raúl Grijalva and I have.

He was also asked about global warming. He talked of being invited to a meeting during his time with the Bush administration. When the issue was brought up, Carmona talked about the evidence for human impact on climate and noted that the only controversy among scientists was the degree of that impact. He noted that he never got invited back to those meetings.

He was asked about health care, of course. He resisted the temptation to endorse any specific kind of plan, but would like to start with an agreement that all people deserve a certain level of health care.

Interestingly, there was not one question on his position on reproductive choice. Don Bivens’s campaign has been quietly sowing doubts about Carmona’s support for abortion and access to birth control. It could be this audience, politically active Tucsonans, was already familiar with Carmona’s actual record on the issue.

His answers were long. Not rambling, but longer than some audiences and formats would tolerate. That sort of thing is meat and drink for Democratic party activists, but hopefully he’s working on more concise, quick off his feet stuff for later in the campaign. I imagine that Bivens, given his experience as party chair, has that sort of thing down. And Jeff Flake? That goes without saying.

Given Carmona’s background, I expected a bit more skepicism and tougher questions from the audience. I don’t know whether to chalk this up to pragmatism or deference to a home town boy.