Oct. 15, 2004
A Tribune roundup of news and events surrounding Wednesday’s presidential debate at Arizona State University.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., created the most post-debate buzz with his absence from a bipartisan party he was supposed to co-host with Gov. Janet Napolitano.
McCain and Napolitano decided months ago to throw a lavish, high-powered bash funded by private donors at Tempe’s Mission Palms Hotel, the official hotel for the Commission on Presidential Debates.
After Wednesday’s debate, McCain joined President Bush in a Republican rally at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, while Napolitano went with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to a Democratic rally at Tempe Beach Park.
Napolitano eventually made it to the Mission Palms, and the party faded after she left around 10 p.m. McCain never showed, and the governor’s office said Thursday that Napolitano hadn’t heard why.
One theory of some partygoers was that the Bush campaign was worried Napolitano would bring Kerry to the party, creating an embarrassing moment if the two senators were photographed together in the heat of the presidential campaign.
But McCain’s state director, Paul Hickman, said the senator ran out of steam after a long day as one of the stars of the "Super Bowl of politics."
"I think he was just spent," Hickman said.
A south Chandler resident managed to give the Secret Service a bit of a start Wednesday when he flew into the Stellar Airfield in Chandler, a violation of the temporary flight restrictions in place for the day. But perhaps not as much of a shock as when he found an F-16 fighter jet on his tail.
A Secret Service spokesman said the violation occurred around noon, and Joe Sottile, president of the Stellar Park Homeowners Association, confirmed that the pilot, whose name wasn’t released, was a resident of the Stellar development. Sottile said his neighbor has a home in the mountains and was just returning to Chandler.
"There is a temporary flight restriction in and apparently one of our neighbors was not aware of that and flew down here," Sottile said. "He just apparently wasn’t aware of it."
The Secret Service says it’s not unusual for the temporary flight restrictions to be violated during special events such as the debate. However, an investigation is in the offing.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety motorcycle officer suffered a broken leg and other injuries Wednesday when he was struck by a vehicle on Loop 202 while he was attempting to slow down traffic for Kerry’s motorcade.
Mike Fields, a DPS officer for about 10 years, was attempting a "traffic break" about 11:45 a.m. to slow traffic enough to let the motorcade through, said DPS spokesman Frank Valenzuela.
A vehicle hit Fields’ motorcycle from behind at about 65 mph.