Sen. John McCain may have a comfortable lead over J.D. Hayworth going into Tuesday's Arizona Republican Senate primary, but he didn't get there without a fight. McCain spent $21 million in an effort to bury Hayworth in the primary and shifted to the right on immigration and other issues, even shedding the "Maverick" label he once embraced.
Hayworth joined CBS News' John Dickerson on "Washington Unplugged" Monday in this week's installment of "Behind the Ballot." The host brought up McCain's latest anti-Hayworth campaign ad tying the former congressman to convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The ad claims "Hayworth received $150,000 from Abramoff and his clients" and kept the money even after Abramoff's conviction.
After listening to the ad, Hayworth responded, "Character matters, especially when [McCain] displays no character. He knows that ad is completely false and there are so many untruths it's tough to begin."
"John McCain chaired hearings in 2006 concerning Mr. Abramoff and his relationship with members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives," Hayworth continued. "My name never came up. My name was never part of any sort of report. John McCain knows that and to run an ad that is blatantly false; I'm sorry to say this, its part and parcel of a 'lie and buy' strategy."
He ended with strong words for his opponent.
"What we are seeing is that John McCain sadly has lost whatever character he had. Instead of being a senior statesman, who should be revered and, quite frankly, should be voluntarily retiring... is a cynical, political shape-shifter," Hayworth added.
While McCain may be the Washington stalwart, Hayworth isn't exactly a political outsider, having been an Arizona Congressman from 1995-2007.
"Sure I served in Washington but I've had the benefit of being back home," he told Dickerson. "I know what works, I know what doesn't and I know the tricks and traps of what goes on along the banks of the Potomac. I will return to Washington as an older and wiser, but still as a very conservative member of the United States Senate. It begins tomorrow with a primary upset of historic proportions."
Watch Monday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring CBS News Director of Elections Anthony Salvanto on Arizona and Florida's primaries and CBS News' Mark Knoller on the President Obama's working vacation.