Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Steamboat Springs Some blew kisses; others blew darts.
Regardless of what the crowd shot at him Tuesday morning at a town meeting, however, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., responded to each question with diligence and care, according to audience members.
The diverse audience at Centennial Hall was well prepared to grill the Senator, making reference to specific bills and allocation decisions. The most prevalent issues included campaign finance reform, energy, the war on terror and the estate tax.
"I thought he was extremely well-informed, a good communicator, and I thought he was responsive to the questions that were asked," said Walter Scott after the meeting.
Allard is on the campaign trail, hoping to get re-elected this November in a race against Democrat Tom Strickland, whom he defeated in 1996.
Despite the fact that Republicans outnumber Democrats in the county by more than 22 percent, the audience was not going to let the first-term senator off easy.
"(When constituents look at them) individually, everybody loves their congressman, but when you all get up in Washington, you're all the same," said John Doolittle, a Steamboat resident who was concerned that Allard isn't adequately representing senior citizens.
Allard, who visits all 64 Colorado counties every year, tried to prove that he is not "just another Washington bureaucrat," pointing out his stands on specific issues and specific actions he has taken.
For one, Allard wants to eliminate the estate tax, which is dubbed the "death tax" by some.
The tax will be gradually phased out over the next decade but will return in 2011, based on current legislation.
Jo Stanko, a local rancher, was also concerned about the estate tax, which she says forces ranchers and other rural residents to sell their land to pay off the tax. She thanked Allard for his support.
"This is so important," she said.
Allard said he has already set up a political action committee to help support candidates who will oppose the estate tax and that he has put the issue near the top of his priority list.
Allard was adamant about the need for more renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, though he does support drilling for oil in Alaska to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil a position
that concerned at least one resident.
Allard supports President Bush wholeheartedly on the war on terrorism, asserting that the United States needs to root out terrorists in places such as the Philippines as soon as possible.
One audience member said he thinks the United States has to concentrate at least as much energy on giving aid and support to impoverished countries such as the Philippines as attacking dissident groups.
Allard responded by saying he thinks the United States cannot necessarily use money to try to sway opinions.
"Those people hate America and we can't buy their love," Allard said.
Others said the war on terror is frightening in part because of how much it will cost taxpayers about $1 billion per day right now, according to Allard.
Another resident was also concerned about money he was worried the potential ban on soft money for political campaigns in a new campaign finance bill would limit his free-speech rights.
Allard also said he would likely oppose a ban on soft money unregulated dollars sent to political parties being sent to the Senate from the House of Representatives and has opposed banning it in the past.