Sen. Martha McSally: “Everyone’s Doing the Best They Can”

Martha McSally, junior senator in the swing state of Arizona, faces a tough re-election battle in November against former astronaut Mark Kelly. She joins the program to discuss the space launch that was scheduled for today, politics, and her new book, “Dare to Fly,” about her time as America’s first female fighter pilot to see active duty.

Read Transcript EXPAND

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But first let me ask you from your perspective not just as a senator but in the air force, what do you make of this attempt to make history by, you know, a private company, a private platform taking astronauts to space?

SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): Well, America needs some hope right now. The world needs hope. But in America, dealing with this pandemic, I know that the weather is still pending but I think this could be an amazing day. I know the country is watching. We have not had our astronauts go up in American rocket in almost 10 years. We’ve been relying on the Russians. And so, this is a great example of a public-private partnership coming together and putting Americans back in American rockets to be able to get to the space station. Right now, Americans just really need some hope. And this just, I think, embodies what the spirit of America and what America really needs in the middle of this virus.

AMANPOUR: You know, as you say that, it really does actually just bring something to mind that I want to ask you. I mean, clearly if that can happen in space and it is a really, you know, difficult complicated operation, something like that could have happened on the ground trying to find the right resources, the right equipment, the right testing capacity for the pandemic that’s stymieing the country, killing people and obviously, you know, putting a tank, tanking the economy. Are you not a little bit disappointed with the lack of speed in that direction?

MCSALLY: Well, Christiane, think about it. We’re in this warp speed project for this virus that we didn’t even know existed. It was covered up by China, it came to American just a few months ago. And now, we’re on track with, I think, 19 different projects of American innovation racing to get a vaccine for this virus we knew nothing about. Actually, that will be record time. And when you look at the testing capacity, look, the government first tried to control it and centralize it. They came up with their own test. It was faulty. They wanted all the samples centralized and brought to them and that wasn’t working. And so, again, it was the private sector in a public-private partnership that has stepped in the gap for this new virus to be able to provide the variety of testing. Now, we need more testing for sure but we’ve ramped up the capability, thank God for the private sector to provide that for just an antibody testing and for the diagnostic testing, and research institutions in Arizona, we have the University of Arizona who came up with their own testing and their own antibody testing and it’s now being used across Arizona for first responders. So, it is this kind of partnerships, the whole society coming together that I think is the best of America. And people can criticize it. I know they will. But this is an unprecedented challenge that we have not seen in a century, certainly not in my lifetime and everybody’s doing the best they can.

About This Episode EXPAND

Arizona Senator Martha McSally discusses the tough reelection battle she faces in November. Michael Bloomberg’s former presidential campaign manager Kevin Sheekey discusses the fight against the pandemic. Writer Matt Ridley tells Walter Isaacson about the fascinating history of innovation, from post-it notes to vaccines.