Friday, July 18, 2008

Heinrich Blames Bush for Job Losses in New Mexico

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate in New Mexico just went up for the third straight month. In fact, 1000 jobs were lost in June alone.

We caught up with Congressional Candidate Martin Heinrich (D) and U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn at a Faith & Politics prayer breakfast at God’s House Church.

Heinrich blames the job losses on the current administration. He says George Bush's economic policies are responsible for the failing economic conditions.

Heinrich told us in this AUDIO INTERVIEW that he wants to get serious about developing the energy economy because he believes jobs in the solar power industry, like the one's at Mesa Del Sol's Schott Solar, will create new jobs for New Mexicans. He also says if elected he’ll look at trade policies.

Speaking of energy, I asked him where he gets his energy for the long days of campaigning, and he told me his kids are an incredible source of renewable energy.

Heinrich’s guest at the breakfast was Congressman James Clyburn -South Carolina (D). Clyburn said he's "committed to engaging the faith community in an effort to establish a broad coalition to address issues in New Mexico."

Clyburn also told us in this AUDIO INTERVIEW that President George Bush’s compassionate conservatism and faith based programs didn’t work.

Clyburn says progressives don’t want to just show compassion, they want to demonstrate it with their works.

The senior congressman said he’s concerned about the loss of jobs here, and nationwide. He says he wants to expand his innovative STEM program, look at ways to stimulate job creation, and he says the country can’t drill its way out of the current energy crisis.

The powerful former Black Congressional Caucus Chairman, says a permit has been granted to Duke Power, in his home state of South Carolina, to construct a new nuclear power plant. It will be the first in 40 years. He believes New Mexico residents are nuclear tolerant and should consider a power plant in its energy mix.

NM Politics Writer Heath Haussamen reports on State Auditor Hector Baldera's reaction to the unemployment numbers on his blog, NM Politics.Net Balderas touted Barack Obama's economic plan on Friday morning.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

White Takes Aim at High Gas Prices.

Escalating gas prices have candidates in both parties proposing their own long- term energy plans. Republican Congressional Candidate Darren White says he agrees alternative solutions need to be well funded and developed, so America can ween itself off foreign oil, but he says we need a short term plan today.

White told us in this AUDIO INTERVIEW that the country, which uses two million barrels a day, needs to end its addiction to oil.

"Washington has failed us again," White said. "While working families have been forced to make tough choices, filling up the gas tank or cutting back at the grocery store, politicians, of both parties, are failing to solve the problem."

On Wednesday afternoon, White unveiled seven energy provisions he's backing.

Criticizing his own party, White said, "We can't adopt the partisan Republican version that resists all regulation of oil companies and speculators and doesn't invest in alternative sources." White also said, "Now is not the time for partisanship or extreme ideology. Now is the time to do what is right."

He says his plan's provisions will ease "the pain at the pump that New Mexicans are facing everyday."

Last week Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich talked to us about the impact of rising gas prices. Udall's told us here that "the country can't drill it's way out of the problem," and Martin Heinrich told us here he'd like to see an Apollo-type program initiated to alternative sources to reduce the country's energy dependence."

Supporters, and driver's filling up their tanks, were encouraged to sign their names to a "Its Gas Prices Stupid!" banner that will be sent to Congress. White hopes it reminds Washington lawmakers that price is the number one issue on their minds. The campaign's website also has an online petition for New Mexicans to sign here.

Key provisions in the first-time Federal candidate's energy program include finding the next generation of energy sources, expanding the use of clean energy sources, including nuclear power, increasing the production of American-made energy, brining modern oil refineries on line to increase supply, encouraging conservation, and increasing fuel efficiency standards.


White took a few extra moment's to tell us in this AUDIO INTERVIEW that he hasn't seen the civil rights violation lawsuit by retired four-time Indy 500 Car Winner Al Unser Sr in which he's named as a defendent.

White, in the AUDIO INTERVIEW, agreed there were missteps made in the UNM Lobo Coach Steve Alford fund raiser invitation for last night's event. White says his campaign has cleared the matter up...

Photos Courtesy of White Campaign

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McCain: I Will Inspire A Generation

Arizona Senator John McCain spent a little more than 71 minutes talking with 475 guests at his Town Hall Meeting in Albuquerque.

Here's a link to the full AUDIO transcript.

Before the Town Hall meeting, the all but certain nominee, hosted a breakfast round table for local leaders and minority business owners at the Barelas Coffee Shop.

Before the breakfast I spoke with 9-year-old Zeke Gonzales about why he's supporting McCain.

You have to listen to Zeke articulate his views on the 2008 Presidential race in this STORY.

McCain talked about the war, national security, gas prices, offshore drilling, the economy, and Los Alamos Lab's key role in the his Lexington Project, affordable college tuition. taxes, small business, health care, the GI and Farm Bill, Earmarks, Supreme Court decisions and choices, border security, and the differences he has with Sen. Barack Obama.

He also told the crowd what he's looking for in a running mate and introduced U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Pearce, who spoke for less than a minute.

Photo: MG Bralley

Monday, July 14, 2008

No Speeches. No Soundbites. Just Straight Talk!

Sometimes reporter’s head to work knowing there’s going to be a great story ahead of them that day. I knew today was going to be special. Last Friday, after morning reporting chores, and a few beat calls, I received a call from my boss, 770KKOB News Director Pat Allen. He said Sen. John McCain’s campaign staff had invited one representative from the station to ride with the candidate from the airport to the Hilton hotel on the infamous Straight Talk Express.

After a weekend of studying every national issue, I arrived at Cutter Aviation south of the Sunport just before 3pm. Two hours later McCain’s charter jet arrived during a light rainfall. After we settled into the back of the bus, McCain told me he brought the rain with him. Jeff Jones at the ABQ Journal suggested it might translate into some votes.

Here’s the AUDIO of our 24-minute interview.

On Tuesday we'll have more audio from a special trip with the McCain campaign and sound from the sold out Town Hall meeting so check back with us here.

During the ride to his hotel, Senator McCain told the group of five invited journalist he thinks voters in New Mexico will support him this fall.

“We’re neighboring states,” the Arizona Senator said. “I understand the issues and the challenges. Senator Barack Obama has no experience and no judgment on these issues.”

McCain told me he’d like to have Barack Obama accept an invitation to have joint Town Hall Meetings similar to the one he’s hosting at the Hotel Albuquerque on Tuesday morning.

With 17 percent of New Mexico living below the poverty line I asked him what he’d do for rural New Mexicans who have been hit hard with job layoffs and gas prices.

“Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” McCain confidently replied. “I also think they deserve a Gasoline Tax Holiday.”

McCain also talked about the estate tax and says he plans to extend President Bush's tax cuts, which would keep the top tax rate for long-term capital gains at 15 percent for most people. The cuts are set to expire at the end of 2010. More in the Seattle Times.

“If you want someone to raise your taxes, I'm not your candidate,” chuckled McCain.

The 72-year old politician also told us, on our short trip north on I-25, that energy independence needs to be a national mission. He says he’ll expand the national labs, including Sandia and Los Alamos, mission. He says he’ll invest in them for pure research and development.

“There’s a lot of talent out there. We need to invest in it,” McCain noted.

The candidate also says gas prices will drop when the country announces it will start drilling off our shores. Earlier in the day President George Bush dropped the ban on drilling. Perhaps McCain’s theory will be tested soon.

McCain says Americans send 700 Billion to countries that “don't like us very much." He say, "it’s a complete transfer of wealth."

McCain told us near the end of the interview that he believes New Mexico will be a battleground state, and that his record and knowledge of border state issues should help him win the five electoral votes up for grabs here.

McCain differentiated himself from Barack Obama with a list of policy and issue difference.

McCain say's he’s Pro-Life and "Obama favors partial birth abortions" which he says Hispanic families don't agree with. He also says his support of small businesses, and the military should carry him to the White House.

He also says he’s a Federalist and supports New Mexico’s right to create a medical Marijuana program despite his belief that it’s a gateway drug. Yet in his home doctors are not prescribing Marijuana due a the Supreme Court ruling citing a federal ban. Currently, 12 states have legalized Medical Marijuana use, according to NORMAL, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. They include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

McCain who flew to Albuquerque from a the National La Raza Convention in San Diego, told us “Americans want the border secured first, but he believes a comprehensive immigration reform bill can be passed soon. He say’s the country needs to rely on governors like Bill Richardson to secure the border. McCain believes the Federal Government needs to provide more high tech equipment to assist Border Control Guards.

McCain also says while he stayed out of the primary he was looking forward to visiting with Rep. Heather Wilson at a private fundraising dinner.

“I admire her very much, even if she did go to the Air Force Academy,” said the Naval Veteran.

McCain says he thinks this week’s New Yorker was tasteless and offensive. See it here.

And he says Sen. Obama’s weekend Op-ed in the New York Times doesn"t match his record in the Senate.

“He opposed the surge,” McCain says of Obama. “Now he's saying we have to access the situation. He's refused to acknowledge the surge has worked. He's been to Iraq once and never asked for a meeting with General Petraus. How does he know if the surge worked or not if he hasn't talked to the commander. I'll be glad to see what he says after his visit to Iraq.”

To learn more about what McCain said about preserving New Mexico's "pristine wilderness" visit Heath Haussamen's blog.

Local photos: MG Bralley

Sunday, July 13, 2008

UDALL: Middle Class Getting Hammered by High Gas Prices

Senate Candidate Tom Udall Hosts a Round Table

on High Gas Prices

Our lives are busy and everyone's on the move. But, going to work, running errands, and taking the kids to their little league games is getting expensive. The price of gas is now more than $4 a gallon, up 22 percent in a year. Everyone is feeling the pain at the pump.

U.S Senate Candidate Tom Udall
got an earful from some of his constituents who are feeling the pain on Friday. Udall hosted a round-table discussion in Albuquerque at the Ever-Ready Oil Company.

Udall says "voters see record prices and record profits, and he's says they're upset."

In the short term, Udall doesn't believe there are any easy answers and "no silver bullets." Udall wants a comprehensive energy plan because the country, he says "can't drill it's way out of the problem."

Udall recommend new, clean, refineries be brought on line. He says New Mexico is doing it's part because it's one of ten state's that export energy, but he'd like to see the state take the lead in solar energy development.

Both candidates for president and all the local candidates in New Mexico know the price of gas is going to weigh heavily on voter's minds this fall when they head to the polls.

During lunch in the ERO parking lot, Udall met with eight voters at a round-table on gas prices. Udall told the group he wanted to listen to different perspectives. He heard from the owner of Ever-Ready Oil company, full time mom and real estate appraiser Jennifer Gonzales, commuter Dorthy Cole, Meals on Wheels Volunteer Gloria Hawk, President of NM State Assn of Letter Carrier Richard "Smiley" Martinez, Branch 989 Letter Carrier President Susie Romero, and Teacher's Union Political Director Sarah Adleson.

Each of them shared stories of pain at the pump. Everyone understands there is no short-term solution, but each said they don't understand the cause for the steep increases.

Gonzales, who has two young children, says she doesn't want her kids to sacrifice their activities, but told Udall she can't keep running laps around the city.

Meals on Wheels Hawk is concerned about the 12 percent increase in food costs. She said the program may lose volunteers, who have remained loyal, once gas climbs over $4.

The group's letter carriers shocked the crowd when they reported each penny increase in gas costs the U.S. government $8 million dollars. Smiley said the post office can't raise postage without an "act of congress," so it isn't hiring people and routes are being split.

Romero told Udall the postal service simply can't absorb the increasing gas prices and her mail is often delivered late because of the route splits.

Adelson says the teacher's union is concerned about keeping school buses running during the school year.

Udall told reporters in this AUDIO PRESS CONFERENCE that "middle class families are getting hammered" by high gas prices and said John McCain's Gas Tax Holiday is a gimmick that will only save an average driver one tank of gas. Udall said, "that's not the kind of relief they're looking for."

He said New Mexico should prepare to become the Saudia Arabia of Solar. He says Germany is already taking the lead. He recognized France gets 80 percent of their energy from nuclear power and blamed industry in the U.S. for not building more power plants. He told reporters speculation needs to be curbed and price gouging investigated by congress.

When pressed about hedge-fund investing Udall said, "
I don’t have a problem with capitalism. What I have a problem with is the people who are getting in to the market, and driving up the price, and in many instances don’t belong in the market. The Airlines are in the market because they’re buying gasoline. That’s a legitimate example. These speculators that are in the market with paper dollars. I don’t think it’s the proper kind of speculation."

Udall claimed at least $1 a gallon of gas, or a third of the cost of a barrel, is based purely on speculators.

U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Pearce, in this INTERVIEW with Eye Witness News 4, agrees the American economy, is based on affordable gas, but says speculators are only acting on human behavior. He's concerned if congress says no to new drilling prices will be driven up even higher.

Photo credits: MG Bralley - Visit his blog and read his "Big Bad Wolf" story, and view even more amazing photos shot around UNM's campus.