Senate hopefuls talk energy, Russian conflict
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Four candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard differed Thursday on how they would handle energy policies, Iraq and the Russian invasion of Georgia.
They all agreed that the United States is facing major challenges.
Participants in the debate sponsored by KBDI-TV, Channel 4 and the Rocky Mountain News included Bob Kinsey of the Green Party and Doug Campbell of the American Constitution Party, along with Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Bob Schaffer.
All four had strong feelings about the Russian invasion of Georgia, with Kinsey defending Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Kinsey’s opponents were strongly against the invasion.
Kinsey said Russia has “as much right as we had to invade Iraq.” He said the idea of sending American soldiers to Georgia to shore up the government is “crazy.”
Russia invaded after accusing Georgia of killing more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians, in the separatist province of South Ossetia. The claim couldn’t be independently confirmed, but witnesses who fled the area over the weekend said hundreds had died.
The Kremlin ordered a halt Tuesday after five days of air and ground attacks that left homes in smoldering ruins and uprooted 100,000 people.
Both sides accepted the general outlines of a cease-fire plan, but Georgia complained that bombs and shells were still falling.
Udall, who met Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili two years ago, said Russia was waiting for an excuse to invade Georgia. He said admission to the European Union and sanctions against Russia are the only solutions because Russia would veto any resolution in the United Nations.
Schaffer said Georgia was a warning that Russia has other plans and warned the Ukraine could be next.
He said Russia now feels empowered and is taking advantage of President Bush and his lame duck administration to push their own agenda.
“They see this as an opportunity to test American mettle,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer and Udall clashed repeatedly over energy policy after Schaffer accused Udall of flip-flopping, voting against expansion of drilling rights as a congressman from the 2nd Congressional District and now supporting it as part of a comprehensive solution to the nation’s energy problems.
Udall said he opposed offshore drilling because it would hurt tourism in states like California and Florida. He introduced legislation that would have increased the area available for leasing on the outer continental shelf 100 miles off the Florida coast, a measure that was increased to 125 miles in 2006.
Three of the candidates said they had installed solar power at their homes. The only holdout was Schaffer, who worked for an energy company after he retired from Congress and campaigned on the potential of renewable energy.
“We have windows at our house,” Schaffer joked.
All four candidates differed on whether Congress should hold hearings to determine if President Bush lied about the Iraq war.
Udall said Congress should have held hearings when Republicans were in control, but it’s time to move on. Schaffer said if there is proof Bush or anyone in the administration lied, they should be prosecuted for treason, but he said there is no proof of that.
Kinsey said the war in Iraq is illegal because Congress never declared war against another country.
“You can’t declare a war on terrorism,” he said.
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