Richardson Sticks to Western Issues in Nevada Stop

By: By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, Associated Press
By: By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, Associated Press

BOULDER CITY, Nev. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson tried to ramp up his appeal to Western voters Tuesday, telling Democrats in this small town just outside Las Vegas that "the West is going to rise again."

The New Mexico governor outlined his proposals to cut greenhouse gases, create a national water policy and address the unpopular Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump planned in the state in a campaign speech before about 100 people.

"We are a nation today that is not thinking about land use and open space. We dump all this pork spending on highways, we don't think about commuter rail," Richardson told the group. "We need to find ways to preserve our quality of life, to preserve our environment."

Richardson's focus on the environment and land use was a shift from previous campaign stops in Nevada in which he regularly noted his Western roots, but largely stuck to discussing the Iraq war, education and health care.

The governor, who is considered a long-shot for the nomination, is the only Western Democrat in the field and is hoping for a strong showing in Nevada, scheduled to hold the second caucus in the nation on Jan. 19.

He's spent more time in campaigning before small groups in the state than any of his competitors. His stop Tuesday was the first in Boulder City for a2008 candidate.

While Richardson discussed several issues important in the West, he avoided taking hard positions.

On water, he said he would create a cabinet-level department of water and called for a national water summit. He did not mention the state's most contentious water issue, a plan to construction a multibillion-dollar pipeline to pump water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas.

"We ought to have a national dialogue on water ... we need to find ways to plan ahead and take leadership," Richardson said.

On nuclear waste storage, the former congressman and energy secretary cited his longtime opposition to plans to build a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The site is opposed by most Democrats and Republicans in the state.

Richardson said he also opposes a commonly discussed alternative to Yucca Mountain, the creation of regional storage sites, "because of the transportation issue." Instead, he said, he would order national laboratories to research nuclear waste disposal.

"We went to the moon, why can't we have solution to this?" he asked.

Richardson said he wasn't a proponent of nuclear power, but believes it won't end. He called for increased subsidies for renewable energy sources and a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

His environmental proposals appealed to Jody Tilman, a 61-year-old retired teacher who said she's undecided and "green."

The governor's casual delivery also was a plus, Tilman said, demonstrated in his handling of a few missteps.

He laughed off misstating the name of the town, blaming his staff for writing "Henderson" rather that "Boulder City" in his opening remarks. When he forgot the day of the week, he just asked the crowd, "Is it Monday or Tuesday?" As he searched for an answer to question he turned to an aide to ask, "What's the plan I just talked about?"

"He's down to Earth, I wouldn't be intimidated to go up and talk to him," Tilman said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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