Schaffer touts tax relief |

Schaffer touts tax relief

US Senate candidate focuses on economy during Steamboat visit

Brandon Gee

— Republican U.S. Senate candidate and former Congressman Bob Schaffer stressed the need for tax relief and joined John McCain’s crusade against earmarks in a Steamboat Springs stump speech Wednesday.

Schaffer, who represented Colorado’s Eastern Plains in the 4th Congressional District seat from 1997 to 2002, spoke to a crowded Old Town Pub dining room at an event hosted by the Routt County Republican Central Committee.

“There couldn’t be a greater contrast,” Schaffer said about himself and Democratic opponent Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs.

Schaffer spoke about the troubled national economy and took credit for the relative economic prosperity of the years he served in Congress. He said he fought for tax relief to spur private investment then, and he said he would do the same as a member of the U.S. Senate.

“We don’t have those kinds of leaders in Congress anymore,” Schaffer said. “I think we need that in a serious way.”

Like his opponent, Schaffer said he would have voted against a $700 billion bill that gave the federal government authority to buy threatened mortgage-related investments and other assets in an effort to prop up the economy. His reasons, however, are drastically different than Udall’s.

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“They should have cut spending, and they should have focused more on tax relief to get more private capital in the market,” Schaffer said.

During a campaign stop in Steamboat last week, Udall said he opposed the bill because it didn’t do enough to assist homeowners and ensure citizens a stake in the financial institutions they were bailing out.

Schaffer offered several possible solutions to tackle earmarks in federal spending bills, such as giving the president the power of line-item vetoes or item-reduction vetoes. He also said the U.S. Senate should adopt rules similar to the U.S. House of Representatives that require amendments to be relevant to a bill’s primary purpose.

“You want to end earmarks?” Schaffer said. “It’s pretty straightforward. Elect John McCain, who has pledged to veto any bill with earmarks. You need a U.S. senator who will stand with the president against earmarks, and Mark Udall won’t do it.”

Schaffer said he is a big proponent of domestic energy production.

“If we want to move away from our dependence on foreign oil : we’ve got to realize we have oil here in the United States,” he said.

When it comes to alternative and renewable fuels, Schaffer said he supports “a race to the consumer for the cheapest, best, cleanest, most efficient fuels possible.”

Local Republican Roger Burton said Schaffer proved his trustworthiness when he honored a term-limit pledge and voluntarily left Congress in January 2003 for a career in the private sector.

“I like Bob,” Burton said. “He’s a straightforward guy.”

Schaffer is in the middle of a statewide tour in the final days before the Nov. 4 election. He hopes to defy recent polls, which show the Senate race swinging in Udall’s favor. Schaffer said the Western Slope is crucial to his Senate bid. The same tenacity was a theme throughout Wednesday’s meeting, which featured comments from other Republican candidates, as well.

State Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, who is running against Steamboat Springs Democrat Ken Brenner for the state Senate District 8 seat, stressed the need for continued support in the final days before the election.

“Without it, I won’t get elected,” said White, who claimed his record and experience should lead to a landslide victory in any given year. “I am concerned about winning because this is not any given year. (Brenner) seems to be riding a nice tail wind right now.”

By “tail wind,” White meant the enthusiasm surrounding the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. Last week, White said he is genuinely concerned about voters mobilized by Obama who may go on to vote a straight Democratic ballot.

Polls also show Obama with a lead heading into Election Day. Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, who White or Brenner will replace in the state Senate, implored his fellow Republicans to stay positive and continue working to sway undecided voters.

“Everybody’s got a sphere of influence,” Taylor said. “I think this thing’s going to be so close. I just don’t believe polls.”