Senate hopeful criticizes Bush foreign policy, war | AspenTimes.com

Senate hopeful criticizes Bush foreign policy, war

The Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Colorado hopes to show upper Roaring Fork Valley residents today that he’s got ideas sharp enough to match an impressive resume.

Mike Miles will take his campaign door to door in Aspen and also walk the pedestrian mall between noon and 1 p.m. today. He will attend an informal meet-and-greet gathering at a residence in Basalt this evening.

Miles is challenging Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell for the Senate seat. While Miles is a newcomer to politics he has a resume that boasts important ingredients such as academic achievement, military service and time as an overseas diplomat.

Miles is a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger trained in counter-terrorism. Following his military service, he earned a degree in Russian from U.C. Berkeley and a masters in international affairs from Columbia. He worked for the U.S. State Department, eventually serving as the special assistant to the ambassador to Russia at the end of the Cold War.

When he and his family returned to Colorado, Miles taught civics and government at the same high school he attended as a youth. He was then asked to take over as the principal of Fountain Middle School, a once failing school that improved dramatically under his leadership.

Miles lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.

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In an interview, Miles said he believes his military and diplomatic background would be imminently useful in the Senate right now with the United States facing tough international issues.

“I’m certainly not a hawk but I understand national security issues,” he said.

Miles opposed the war in Iraq and, thanks to his background, can do so without serious questions about his patriotism. He said the United States was being “arrogant” in the way it invaded Iraq without widespread international support. Our country’s foreign policy is being undermined by the Bush administration, he said.

Miles also opposes the Patriot Act, which he said goes too far in infringing on civil liberties. He said “narrowly defined” steps would go far in protecting national security without trampling civil liberties. For example, most people agree that increased screening at airports is necessary, as well as thorough background checks on people who transport hazardous materials.

He said he doesn’t believe Campbell has the background or expertise to help the country make important foreign policy decisions. He also questioned what Campbell is doing to help Colorado residents on domestic issues.

Miles said the skyrocketing cost of health care is an issue that directly or indirectly affects all Colorado residents. He supports a national health care plan.

He also challenged Campbell’s record on environmental protection. Miles said he wouldn’t support the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, which would allow the U.S. Forest Service greater leeway on approving logging projects that are deemed necessary to reduce wildfire threat or insect infestations. A bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, passed the House earlier this year. Tougher debate is expected in the Senate.

Miles was also critical of the administration’s energy policy. He said it doesn’t do enough to promote conservation or alternative sources. “We keep putting off the inevitable,” he said.

The current policy pits “energy versus the environment” and ties the economy too closely to further oil and gas production, he said, adding he would not support oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Miles’ Web site said he sees the abortion issue as a moral struggle. Despite that struggle, he doesn’t view the choice as something the government should dictate, so he is pro-choice.

Other information about Miles is available at http://www.mikemiles4senate.com.

The informal gathering at a Basalt residence is planned for 6 p.m. today. Call 927-5270 for directions.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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