Prescription drug benefits would be Strickland’s #1 priority |

Prescription drug benefits would be Strickland’s #1 priority

U.S. Senate candidate Tom Strickland made a campaign swing through western Garfield County Friday, stopping at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center to field questions.

Strickland, a Denver Democrat, is running against first-term Republican Sen. Wayne Allard. Strickland had warm words for the community. His mother, Cecilia, lives in Parachute.

“There are not too many communities I feel as close to as this one, because of my mom, and up until a year and a half ago, my dad, until he died. You’ve been extremely warm and kind and loving to my mom and dad,” he said.

Strickland is making a second bid for the Senate seat. He ran unsuccessfully against Allard in 1996.

For two years, until April 2001, Strickland served as U.S. Attorney for Colorado, a presidential appointment that he lost after President Bush was elected.

He decided to enter the senate race once again, because “we need to have someone more mainstream than Allard.”

The Battlement Mesa folks, most of whom were seniors, peppered him with questions ranging from the need for prescription drug benefits to transportation of nuclear waste along Interstate 70.

Dana Barker said he’d heard that prescription drugs were available over the Internet from Canada for about one-third the price of the same drug in the United States. He wanted to know why drugs are so much cheaper in Canada.

“Canada regulates the cost of prescription drugs,” Strickland said. “It’s a travesty that prescription drug benefits are not in place under Medicare. It will be my number one legislative priority if I’m elected.”

Garfield County Democratic Party chairwoman Leslie Robinson asked Strickland’s position on a proposal to ship radioactive nuclear waste on Interstate 70 to the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada.

“I am not in support of Yucca Mountain right now. I don’t think all the environmental issues raised by the people in that state have been addressed. Transportation is a serious issue. I have serious qualms about moving high-level radioactive waste over the interstate,” he said.

Strickland also spoke about the need for a balanced national energy plan.

“I don’t support drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge,” he said, which is part of Vice President Dick Cheney’s proposed energy plan. It would not meet the country’s oil needs and would impact a precious natural resource, he said.

There are other sources of energy within the country that have not been tapped, he said.

“There are millions of acres of land identified for oil and gas drilling over which there is no controversy, but have political impediments to permitting,” he said.

The Bureau of Land Management has “enormous delays in issuing permits” to develop oil and gas on its land, he said. “There is a lack of staffing to do environmental and permitting work. There are enormous backlogs,” he said.

Strickland has been on a campaign swing that will bring him to all 64 of Colorado’s counties. Friday morning he stopped in Eagle, and after Battlement Mesa, he headed to Grand Junction.

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