Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sen. Hutchison says she is still thinking about running for governor

Sen. Hutchison wraps up West Texas tour in Parker County


By Lacie Morrison
Lone Star News Group
The Weatherford Democrat
Copyright 2007

MINERAL WELLS — Immigration, energy, tax cuts and Iraq — those topics tripped off the tongue of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, at a town hall meeting Friday afternoon at Clark Gardens Botanical Park, the last stop on her 1,000-mile West Texas Bus Tour.

The biggest issue, Hutchison said, is the War on Terror.

“I am most troubled by the people in Washington ... who think it’s [the war] over there and not going to affect us here. These terrorists want to tear down our way of life. [If the soldiers left the Middle East], the consequences are a serious threat to America.”

Hutchison said the “test of when we can leave Iraq” is when the country is able to withstand terrorists, Iranian influences and sustain their country and people.

Energy was another topic she expounded upon, noting that the country relies heavily on foreign sources.

“Sixty percent of our foreign sources are not necessarily friends,” she said. “We cannot rely on others. We’ve got to explore and drill in our country.”

She explained that America is in a better position to do that now because of the ability to drill deeper and more economically as well as alternative sources such as the procurement of ethanol from corn, grass and mesquite trees. She also touched on the possibility of utilizing wind power.

Ken Johnson asked about the use of wind energy and its impact on energy costs.

“A lot of research is going on. It is going to make a difference in the future,” she replied. “I do think they’ll be more efficient, less costly. The more sources [of energy] would bring the cost down.”

Hutchison noted that nuclear power is one of the most efficient means of power.

“I’d hate to ever say France has done anything right,” she remarked, to widespread chuckles. “They have done nuclear energy right.”

As for the highly discussed immigration issue, Hutchison stated that, “amnesty is not the answer.”

She discussed the need to “secure our borders” and for immigration reform, noting that the reform is the responsibility of the U.S. Congress.

With a late start to the meeting, a handful of questions were asked from the audience with topics ranging from the space program to the “No Child Left Behind Act.” Although Hutchison stated she’d rather hear from the constituents on their concerns, she discussed the importance of U.S. presence in space.

“I’m a strong supporter of NASA. The capability of going into space is even more important now than it was 30 years ago,” she said, discussing the military’s technological advances such as LASAR-guided missiles.

Lyn Ryan, of Weatherford, was concerned about “rumblings of the draft,” to which Hutchison emphatically said, “I do not think it’s in any way a reality. I don’t think we need a draft. Recruitment is going OK. We are meeting our goals and trying to strengthen up our Army.”

The issue of the Trans-Texas Corridor, Hutchison said, “is a state issue” but she had a “fundamental problem” of taking huge amounts of land through eminent domain for that purpose. She was against the portion of highway from Mexico to San Antonio though more positive for the route from San Antonio to Oklahoma.

“I don’t think it’s a good enough reason. We do need alternative routes and means of transport [but] it’d be very important to get local input,” she said. After the meeting, she reiterated, “I don’t think we need a new corridor from Mexico to San Antonio. I don’t think it’s warranted.”

In an interview after the meeting, Hutchison said she is considering running for Texas governor.

“I think the time could be right to do even more for Texas,” she remarked.

The general consensus of those in attendance agreed the town hall meeting went well.

“I’m sure there were issues not brought up [but] I think it went very well,” observed Cathy Johnson.

Judy Anderson added, “I think it was a neat thing. A lot of times, a town this size wouldn’t draw [enough attention] to consider it a stop.”

“I thought that was a wonderful opportunity to speak about issues that are troubling,” remarked Shelley Ramsey. “I think she covered a broad range of topics [and] really varied in subject material.”

Max Clark thought it was well organized.

“She had some good thoughts. I thought it was well attended. She adequately covered the issues that were asked of her. She seemed well informed of the topics,” he said. When asked if there were topics he felt warranted more attention, Clark stated, “Immigration. I’d much rather gotten deeper into the issue of immigration. It affects Texas so much.”

Hutchison’s West Texas Bus Tour began Wednesday in Borger and consisted of 12 stops.

“I came to Palo Pinto County today to meet with Texans to update them on what I’ve been doing in Washington on important energy, agriculture, tax, transportation and immigration issues,” the senator said. “But primarily I wanted to travel across West Texas to hear from my constituents about what’s on their minds and how we can be more responsive to their needs.”

Introducing Hutchison Friday was Mineral Wells City Mayor Clarence Holliman and Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland. The senator visited Abilene and Eastland earlier in the day.

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