By Jeremy Herb - 08/13/12 08:11 PM EDT
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is holding a town hall with Boeing employees in Mesa, Ariz., on Tuesday, as he unofficially brings his cross-country sequestration tour home.
McCain and other Republican defense hawks have traveled to swing states this past month to speak out against the 10-year, $500-billion across-the-board cut to defense spending set to take effect in January.
Last month, the senators took a two-day tour through Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire — all battleground states with a military presence — to highlight the dangers of the cuts.
McCain’s event in his home state of Arizona isn’t an official part of the senators’ sequester tour, according to a release from his office, but the focus at the Boeing facility’s town hall is sure to be squarely on defense cuts.
The defense industry has warned of more than 1 million industry job losses under sequester, and contracting giant Lockheed Martin has threatened to send out layoff notices to all 123,000 of its employees over the across-the-board cuts.
But Boeing is one of several large defense contractors that’s become more hesitant about labeling sequestration as a doomsday scenario, while remaining staunchly opposed to the cuts.
McCain and the other Republican senators say they are planning more town halls in the coming weeks as the election draws closer. The sequester cuts have begun to play a role in the presidential election — as both President Obama and Mitt Romney have criticized each other over them — with Obama accusing Republicans and Romney of protecting the wealthy at the expense of the military and Romney saying Obama is harming the military to raise taxes.
Both Democrats and Republicans want to stop the cuts, and there are informal groups of senators looking for a solution before the election to delay them.
But a pre-election deal does not appear to be in the cards, and the GOP senators said they launched their tour to make sure the public knows what’s at stake. Democrats have questioned whether the sequester tour was designed to complement the Romney campaign.