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By Anthony Cave September 21, 2016

John McCain claims Democratic challenger walked out on constituents

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won his Aug. 30 primary and has since shifted jabs to his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Flagstaff, ahead of November’s general election.

A recent political advertisement attempts to portray Kirkpatrick as dishonest -- noting that she mostly votes along party lines (a pro-McCain PAC made this same claim, we rated it Mostly True) -- and turned her back on the state.

"Kirkpatrick betrayed Arizona on Obamacare, walking out on constituents when questioned about it," the ad, which was published Sept. 6, says, showing Kirkpatrick walking out of an Aug. 6, 2009, meeting in Holbrook, Ariz.

We wondered -- did Kirkpatrick really walk out on constituents who had questions about the Affordable Care Act?

The event in question was pegged as one of several "Chats with Ann." A press release before the event notes that these chats, held at Safeway grocery stores, were meant for people who wanted to "discuss their concerns and issues."

McCain campaign spokeswoman Lorna Romero pointed out that Kirkpatrick said in a subsequent interview with the White Mountain Independent that the chat was to give folks a chance to talk about "health insurance reform and getting our economy back on track."

But why did Kirkpatrick walk out?

Politico reported that the event was overrun by protesters, noting that conservative interest groups had organized opposition to similar events across the country. Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, an anti-health care reform group, did have the Kirkpatrick’s event listed on their website.

The same White Mountain Independent article also notes people were upset because "she wasn’t addressing the crowd as a whole."

"Ann was trying to answer questions, and was shouted down," Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell said.

We were unable to find a full video from the 2009 chat, but an extended clip does appear to show several people shouting.

Other members of Congress faced similar disruptions across the country in August 2009. NPR reported that some congressional town halls ended in "fistfights, arrests, and even hospitalizations."

The ad fails to mention that Kirkpatrick went back to Holbrook for a town hall meeting on health care a month later.

"I think a key component is competitiveness and choice, but I also think we need to take personal responsibility for our health," Kirkpatrick said during the town hall.  

From The Associated Press:

"Kirkpatrick returned to Holbrook weeks after she walked out of a one-on-one ‘Chat with Ann’ event at a local grocery store. Protesters had urged her to make it more of a public forum and called her a ‘nitwit’ as she left."

Our ruling

The ad claims, "Kirkpatrick betrayed Arizona on Obamacare, walking out on constituents when questioned about it."

While Kirkpatrick did walk out of the Holbrook grocery store, the ad fails to mention the protesters -- and that she returned for a health care town hall a month later.  

On balance, we rate the ad’s claim Half True.

Our Sources

Political TV Ad Archive, "Ann Kirkpatrick turned her back on Arizona," accessed Sept. 20, 2016

John McCain, "Ann Kirkpatrick runs from her constituents," March 23, 2016

ABC15, "John McCain wins primary, holds off Kelli Ward’s challenge," Aug. 30, 2016

PolitiFact Arizona, "Pro-McCain PAC says Democratic challenger votes by party nearly 90 percent of the time," April 29, 2016

Ann Kirkpatrick, "Rep. Kirkpatrick to start ‘Working for You’ Tour with ‘Chats with Ann,’ funding announcements," July 30, 2009

The White Mountain Independent, "Kirkpatrick walks out of event, cites ‘disruptive’ crowd," Aug. 10, 2009

Politico, "Another Dem overrun by protesters at town hall," Aug. 6, 2009

Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, "Congressional Town Hall Meetings," Aug. 7, 2009

The Associated Press, "Kirkpatrick holds event on health care in Holbrook," Sept. 4, 2009

Interview with McCain spokeswoman Lorna Romero, Sept. 14, 2016

Interview with Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell, Sept. 19, 2016

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John McCain claims Democratic challenger walked out on constituents

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