Video shows Kari Lake and Ruben Gallego debating near Phoenix airport restroom

Oct 6, 2023, 10:30 AM | Updated: 12:50 pm

PHOENIX — Kari Lake, who never got a chance to debate Katie Hobbs during last year’s Arizona gubernatorial race, faced off Thursday with potential U.S. Senate opponent Rep. Ruben Gallego, although not in a formal setting.

The Donald Trump loyalist got an early start on her campaigning during a lively conversation outside an airport restroom. The impromptu debate was captured on video and published by conservative website the Daily Caller.

The exchange actually started earlier on a plane heading to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Lake tagged Gallego’s personal account in a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, about the Biden administration using executive power to construct border wall in Texas.

The Democrat responded with the following: “Hey @KariLake we’re on the same plane! Just come back from first class to coach and we can chat.”

What did Kari Lake and Ruben Gallego say to each other?

There’s no indication the political rivals met while in the air, but a 3½-minute video shows what happened just outside a men’s room near the baggage claim area after the flight.

They could be seen shaking hands at the outset and alluding to their likely 2024 general election showdown. After Gallego said he looks forward to it, Lake said, “It’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out.”

From then, the former TV news anchor kept the focus of the exchange on border policies.

At one point she told a passerby, pointing to Gallego, “This guy wants to destroy our country.”

Gallego, a five-term congressman from Phoenix, disputed some of Lake’s claims and suggested that they work together.

“As a matter of fact, let’s go down to the border together,” he said.

Lake, who is known for her confrontational style, wasn’t buying it.

“I’m not working together with you. I’m going to beat you,” she said.

Who is running for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat?

Gallego is the presumptive Democratic nominee in next year’s race for independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat. Lake, who lost her bid for governor in 2022, is poised to enter the Republican Senate primary field soon.

Sinema hasn’t yet announced if she’ll seek reelection, but if she does it will create a highly contentious and closely watched three-way battle for the key swing-state seat.

Lake is expected to announce her official entry into the race during an event scheduled for Tuesday. She’s been teasing her candidacy for a while and filed fundraising paperwork with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week.

With Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb the only major Republican candidate so far, Lake is expected to become the immediate front-runner.

According to polling conducted by Phoenix-based Noble Predictive Insights in July, Gallego leads in a potential head-to-head matchup with Lake as well as a potential three-way race that includes Sinema.

Why didn’t Kari Lake debate Katie Hobbs last year?

Lake didn’t get a chance to debate outside her party when she ran for governor last year.

Hobbs refused to participate under the head-to-head format used for years by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, which sponsors debates for all contested statewide and legislative races as part of its voter education responsibilities.

Hobbs said she wouldn’t share the stage with Lake out of concerns the Republican would turn the forum into a spectacle similar to what was seen in the GOP gubernatorial primary debate. Lake accused Hobbs of cowardice and made it an issue on the campaign trail.

The Democrat wound up winning 50.3%-49.6%, with a margin of just over 17,000 votes.

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Video shows Kari Lake and Ruben Gallego debating near Phoenix airport restroom