McCain's defense tour heads to Colorado

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is checking off another swing state on his tour to warn about cuts to defense spending. 

McCain, and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) are teaming up Tuesday in Colorado for a town hall to talk about the danger of the defense cuts set to hit Jan. 2 through sequestration. The stop in Colorado Springs, Colo., marks the sixth state the senators have visited on their “Preserving America’s Strength” town-hall road trip.  

All of the events have been held in presidential battlegrounds.

The senators began the tour in July with town halls in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire, and then traveled during August's congressional recess to Nevada.

They said their event in Colorado Springs is designed to “sound the alarm” over the danger of the cuts.

“We look forward to visiting Colorado Springs to sound the alarm about the profound negative consequences of these cuts to our national security and economy,” they said in a statement. “This community — which plays such a critical role in our nation’s defense — will bear the brunt of the defense sequestration cuts.  It is a voice that must be heard in Washington.”

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The defense cuts under sequestration have become an issue in the presidential race, with both President Obama and Mitt Romney using the issue as an attack line.

Romney says Obama is weakening the country’s defense by threatening to reduce military spending in order to win tax increases, while Obama argues Republicans are willing to cut the military to protect tax cuts for the wealthy.

The three senators, meanwhile, were unable to generate any momentum in Washington to stall the cuts, as a bill to delay them for a year went nowhere in Congress. McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the committee's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), say there have been informal discussions among senators for dealing with sequestration, but no proposals have emerged from the talks.

Sequestration would cut $109 billion from the budget in 2013, including $55 billion in defense spending. Over the next decade, sequestration would reduce Pentagon budgets by $492 billion.

Both Democrats and Republicans want to avert the across-the-board sequester cuts, but the two parties have been deadlocked over how to find alternate deficit reduction.

Sequestration has now been rolled up into the end-of-year “fiscal cliff” negotiations in the lame-duck session, where Congress will also have to deal with the expiring Bush tax rates and possibly another increase in the debt ceiling.