FERNLEY, Nev – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton turned the spotlight on a key Western issue, saying the resource-rich region can help lead the U.S. in the development of renewable energy.
In remarks Friday night to about 1,200 people in a heavily Republican town about 30 miles east of Reno, Clinton said alternative energy would cut down on greenhouse gases, create American jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
"We are now more dependent on foreign oil than we were on 9/11," Clinton said. "We are basically at the mercy of all these oil-producing regimes ... that all too often use that money against us.
"We have all this empty federal land in Nevada. It should be packed with wind turbines and solar panels," she said.
Her remarks at the town hall meeting came a day after she and other Democratic presidential hopefuls barely touched on Western issues — like water, grazing and mining — at a debate in Las Vegas.
Nevada, a state rich in geothermal, solar and wind power, has moved its Democratic presidential caucus to Jan. 19, following Iowa on Jan. 3 and most likely the New Hampshire primary several days later.
Clinton did not mention her Democratic challengers in Fernley. Instead, she outlined her platform to help the middle class, including her health insurance, education and energy proposals.
She also pledged efforts to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington and criticized President Bush.
"Anybody who tells you that the Republicans know how to manage the budget and balance the books, you tell them you don't know where they've been living the last 6 1/2 years because that is not the facts," Clinton said.
"It gets me a little agitated to think that 6 1/2 years ago we had a balanced budget and surplus in America and it's all been squandered. We now have a $9 trillion deficit."
She also expressed disappointment over Congress's inability to pass legislation to bring the troops home from Iraq.
Their latest defeat came Friday when Senate Republicans blocked a $50 billion bill that would have paid for several months of combat but also would have ordered troop withdrawals to begin within 30 days. The measure, narrowly passed this week by the House, also would have set a goal of ending combat in December 2008.
"We don't have enough Republicans who will vote with us yet. We need more," she said. "But the facts are pretty clear. Our young men and women in uniform have done everything they were asked to do. I do not want them remaining as referees of an Iraqi civil war any longer."
Afterward, Clinton met with about 80 volunteers during a visit to her Reno campaign headquarters. She then flew to Las Vegas, where she's scheduled to campaign Saturday.