Dem stumps in Steamboat
Calling himself a candidate for ordinary people, U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Miles made campaign stops in Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek on Friday.
His trip through Routt County came one month before he faces state Attorney General Ken Salazar in the Aug. 10 Democratic primary.
In Steamboat, Miles spent two hours at the Yacht Club, where a group of about 40 supporters and others gathered. He spoke on a variety of issues, including foreign policy, health-care reform, the environment and education.
Miles raised the question over what constitutes an imminent threat to national security and whether that threat was present leading up to the war in Iraq. Addressing the issue of intelligence and its pre-war role, Miles said, “The biggest failure was not a failure of intelligence, but the political use of intelligence.”
The United States can’t rely on intelligence gathered by other countries, and policy decisions must be the result of multiple sources of intelligence, Miles said. Policy-makers also must recognize bias before making policy recommendations.
Resigned CIA director George Tenet and his former agency have become the “fall guys” for President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, he added.
Miles is an advocate of a universal, single-payer health-care system similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. He envisions a plan available to all Americans at a rate of about $200 a month for the average family of four. Coverage could be free, except for co-payments, to families that fall in certain socioeconomic brackets.
“If this country thinks we can have democracy in Iraq, I think we can have health care in America,” Miles said.
He criticized Bush’s “drill and kill” environmental policies and pushed for increased reliability on alternative fuels.
“We’ve got to legislate it, otherwise we’re going to keep pushing it off,” Miles said.
Miles, a Colorado Springs public school administrator, said he opposes Bush’s No Child Left Behind education legislation, regardless of whether states get the funding needed to carry out its provisions.
“Fully funding bad legislation just gets you more pain,” he said. He spoke in support of higher pay for teachers and local control for school districts.
Miles, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger and U.S. diplomat, is a political newcomer who surprised many Democrats with his victory over Salazar at the party’s state convention in May. Miles and his supporters point to that victory as proof a grass-roots campaign can be successful against big-name candidates with hefty campaign chests.
Despite his May victory, Miles is considered by many to be the Democratic underdog, a role he doesn’t seem to mind. On Friday, he compared his campaign and its supporters to the story of Seabiscuit, the legendary racehorse immortalized in a best-selling novel and hit Hollywood movie.
“People came to the infield not to compare the horses, but for the hope that an ordinary horse could be the champion for the people,” Miles said. “That’s what this team is all about.
“My campaign is about you; it’s not about the candidate.”
Steamboat resident Linda Lewis was among the Miles supporters who attended Friday’s talk. Miles is a straight shooter with the experience necessary to be an effective senator, she said.
“I think what he’s saying really represents the people and what the people want,” Lewis said. “He’s knowledgeable and experienced in ways that really matter.”
Businessman Pete Coors and former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer are the Republican Senate hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination. The Senate seat became available when Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell abruptly announced his retirement earlier this year.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Maryliz Gail sighed in relief for the first time in nearly a year Friday morning.