GOP: McCain-Palin good for West |

GOP: McCain-Palin good for West

DENVER, Colorado ” Western Republican lawmakers praised the McCain-Palin presidential ticket Wednesday and said its support of gun rights and concern for natural resources resonates with voters in the region.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard and New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson characterized the Democratic ticket as against Second Amendment rights and lacking a plan for energy independence.

They also said Barack Obama and Joe Biden pale in comparison to John McCain and Sarah Palin when it comes to understanding the West’s land use issues.

“Whether it is grazing, or ranching, or water ” all of those are Western issues in ways that are not in cities like Chicago,” Wilson said. “I kind of wonder whether the guy from Delaware or the guy from Chicago even know what a grazing permit is or how to get one.”

McCain and Palin have supported steps toward energy independence that Democrats opposed, including oil shale development on federal lands in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, Wilson said.

A Colorado spokesman for Obama’s campaign wasn’t immediately available to respond.

As for gun rights, Allard said of the Democrats, “That’s probably as hostile a team as you can put together as far as the Second Amendment is concerned.”

McCain has voted against banning assault-type weapons but favors requiring background checks at gun shows. He also supports shielding gun-makers and dealers from civil suits. Obama has voted to leave gun-makers and dealers open to suits and, as an Illinois state lawmaker, supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

Allard addressed a controversy over remarks McCain made last month when he told a Colorado newspaper that a key Western water agreement should be “renegotiated over time.” His remarks about the 1922 Colorado River Compact drew outrage from Republicans and Democrats. Democrats pounced, saying it was a sign McCain didn’t understand the importance of water politics in the arid region.

The compact allocates the river among the lower basin states ” Arizona, California and Nevada ” and the upper basin states ” Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Allard said he, too, was “shocked” when he heard about McCain’s comments. He said McCain has since clarified his stance, that he was not calling for a renegotiation of the compact, and that the issue won’t linger in voters’ minds.

Rich Beeson, Republican National Committee political director, said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday the GOP knows “how to win elections in New Mexico and Colorado,” and he promised the party would deliver.

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