Saturday, November 04, 2006

Richard Pombo: Public Enemy No. 1

Here is the AP Report on Laura Bush's campaign stop for Richard Pombo. Maybe she thinks that George is also an environmentalist.
First lady defends Pombo's environmental record

By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer

(11-03) 12:58 PST Pleasanton, Calif. (AP) -- Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, who has faced of wave of attack ads from national conservation groups, is an "enthusiastic steward" of the environment and a friend of wildlife, first lady Laura Bush told GOP supporters Friday.

The first lady defended the environmental record of the seven-term congressman, seeking to give him a boost in his unexpectedly tight re-election campaign. Environmental groups have spent heavily to defeat Pombo, angered by what they say are anti-environmental policies he has championed as chairman of the House Resources Committee.

Appearing with Pombo at a campaign rally, Bush told supporters that the congressman has led efforts to promote alternative fuels and reform the Endangered Species Act. She said the act has created barriers to repairing the aging levees that crisscross Pombo's district, which stretches from the agricultural plains of the Central Valley to eastern San Francisco Bay area suburbs.

"U.S. Rep. Pombo is an enthusiastic steward of our country's natural resources," Bush said in Pleasanton, about 40 miles east of San Francisco. "Because of his leadership, wildlife, property and people will be protected from dangerous flooding."

Pombo, a rancher who has held the 11th Congressional District seat since 1992, faces a surprisingly competitive race against Democrat Jerry McNerney, a 53-year-old wind-energy engineer who holds a doctorate in mathematics.

"It's astounding that she would mention the environment and Richard Pombo in the same sentence because Richard Pombo has made his living beating up on environmentalists and environmental laws," said Rob Caughlan, a McNerney campaign spokesman. "That's why we have the support of every environmental group in the country."

The first lady's campaigning for Pombo four days before Tuesday's election underscored Republican worries that Democrats could take control of Congress.

On Thursday night, she campaigned for Rep. John Doolittle, another Republican incumbent at risk of losing his House seat, at a small Christian college in a Sacramento suburb.

Pombo, 45, has been environmentalists' public enemy No. 1 since becoming chairman of the Resources Committee in 2003.

A staunch advocate for private property rights, he pushed an overhaul of the Endangered Species Act through the House last year that gave new rights to landowners and limited habitat protections.

He also supported legislation that would have allowed the sale of public lands for mining and advocated for more domestic oil drilling, both offshore and in Alaska. Meanwhile Pombo has taken campaign money from oil, gas and timber companies that would benefit from his legislation.

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife have spent about $1 million on campaign ads to unseat Pombo since California's June primary.

On Friday, the first lady sought to shore up Pombo's environmental credentials. She cited his role in passing the National Energy Policy Act, which she said would help end the country's dependence on foreign oil by promoting alternative fuels such as biodiesel.

"U.S. Rep. Pombo is committed to safeguarding local ecosystems," she told Republican activists at a television-production studio owned by NFL commentator and former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden. "Richard promotes responsible conservation initiatives, programs that protect wildlife while also improving the lives of his constituents."

Environmentalists planned their own rally in Pleasanton on Saturday, when Hollywood stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were expected to campaign for McNerney.


Associated Press Writer Erica Werner contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

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