Carmona: 'I'm flabbergasted' at Kyl accusations

"They're doing everything they can to help a failing campaign of desperation of Congressman Flake, and unfortunately they're pulling out all the stops," he said in an interview with The Hill.

In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Kyl asserted that Carmona seemed "more concerned about the perks of the office" than serving in Congress during a call Kyl made to Carmona recruiting him to run as the Republican candidate in Arizona's 8th district in 2006.

But Carmona called Kyl's allegations "outlandish," and pushed back on the idea that he's running for his Senate seat for the perks.

"I'm flabbergasted," he said.

Carmona said that he was in fact recruited for the spot, and did ask Kyl, as the senator told the Weekly Standard, about housing and a car -- but that his questions were more for "logistical" purposes than any self-interest.

"I did have conversations with Senator Kyl asking him, 'Where does a congressman live? Do you bring a car here? Do I need to?' I mean, there were a lot of logistical questions that I asked him as I was doing my due diligence. It had nothing to do with perks, I just, I did not know what the life of a congressman was going to be," he said.

Kyl told the Weekly Standard that he considered Carmona's response during that 2006 conversation "off-putting," and stopped pursuing him for the seat after that. But Carmona told The Hill that he declined the offer to run because he wanted to serve out his entire term as U.S. surgeon general.

"What it came down to, was I willing to give up my job as surgeon general of the United States to trade it for a political position? And I was very clear on that -- after I had asked all the questions and looked at the pros and cons I said no, I want to stay as surgeon general," he said.

Carmona explained that this time around he chose to run for Senate because "the system is broken," and he'd like to go to Washington to fix it.

The Weekly Standard report comes just days after Carmona released an ad featuring remarks both Kyl and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made during Carmona's 2002 surgeon general confirmation hearings, when they offered praise of the candidate's character and qualifications for the office.

Both senators, who have endorsed Carmona's opponent Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), have denounced the ad, calling it "deeply dishonest" in a release, and McCain further slammed Carmona during a conference call with reporters on Friday.

Despite McCain's comments, the candidate insisted the current dispute would not affect their working relationship if he is elected to the Senate.

"When I'm elected, one of the first people I will go and see is Senator McCain and say, 'What can we do together to start addressing some of these issues that are challenging us here in Arizona?' I would look to him as a mentor, as a friend, and I hope that partisanship could be put way then so that we can actually address the needs of the people of Arizona," he said.

But Carmona said that the senators' response to the ad, and Kyl's allegations to the Weekly Standard, were political ploys and evidence of what's currently wrong with the political system.

"I understand that this is the way the political system works and what this really demonstrates is, you know, how partisan and how dysfunctional this system is, because these are the very gentlemen who stood up for me and spoke so positively about me and my career, and now they've forgotten all of that, and now I'm a bad guy," he said.

Carmona and Flake are engaged in a fierce battle for Kyl's seat, as he retires at the end of this year. Alternating polls have given each candidate a lead, indicating it remains close just 10 days out from the election.

Both parties have poured millions in ads into the state, with attacks on Carmona questioning his temperament and past disputes with supervisors, and attacks on Flake focusing on his record on women's and veterans' issues.