SALT LAKE CITY, UT--Pete Ashdown, Democratic nominee for the US Senate in Utah, released the following statement in response to the comments of President Bush and Senator Hatch today at the American Legion Convention and the fund-raiser.
"First of all, I welcome the President here. As I have said before, I wish the President would come here more often and more Presidents would come to Utah. However, I believe the President is wrong when he says that Orrin Hatch is doing an effective job for Utah. I believe Senator Hatch has done good things, but has not represented Utah well in the United States Senate and that I would better serve the people of Utah. I represent a Utah that wants to win the war on terror, but does not believe that freedom itself must be sacrificed on the altar of freedom. I believe that our rights to privacy, to free speech, and to dissent are not negotiable and our sacrificing them is not a necessity to achieve victory. I believe that our national dignity should not be compromised by those who believe that torture is sometimes acceptable, as my opponent does.
"I believe the people of Utah and the United States want a clear plan to win the war in Iraq: I present that plan. That plan is simple: let the Iraqis vote on how long they want the US to stay, then do what they say. If they vote for us to leave, then the military has a mission: within sixty days, move to friendly countries such as Kuwait and Qatar to prevent Iranian invasion until the Iraqis can stop it on their own. If they say stay, then there is a mandate. Whether the result of this vote is a mission or a mandate, both should be executed with maximum transparency to the American people and the rest of the world. Another US President, John F. Kennedy, who faced similar challenges, stated in the Salt Lake Tabernacle: '...men and nations will pursue a variety of roads, that each nation will evolve according to its own traditions and its own aspirations, and that the world of the future will have room for a diversity of economic systems, political creeds, religious faiths, united by the respect for others, and loyalty to a world order.' We must give the Iraqis the opportunity to evolve, and a referendum on our involvement will allow this. The President is wrong when he ignores all the polls on Iraq. There is only one poll that should decide the Iraq policy in the war on terror; that is the ballot that the Iraqi people themselves should cast.
"I believe the people of Utah and the United States want to get off foreign oil; they do not want to pay $3 or $4 or $10 for gasoline, especially when most of that money goes to dictatorships and oppressors. They do not want mercury poisoning their fish and fowl; they do not want to see our beautiful valleys clouded over with toxic smog. My opponent does not want to see America end its addiction to oil; he wants to push us into the false hope of oil shale. The majority of Utahns believe that government should take a stronger role in lowering energy emissions; that can only be done when we balance our energy policy. That means no more tax loopholes for big oil and more incentives for wind, solar, geothermal, and research into nuclear fusion.
"I believe the people of Utah and the United States want to have health insurance, but too many of them do not. We learned Tuesday that 46.6 million Americans, over a million more in a year, were uninsured in 2005. In 2005, the number of Utahns without health insurance rose by over 5000. My opponent believes that tort reform is the end all be all of health care reform; I agree reform is a good idea, but it is not enough. As someone who actually runs a business in Utah, I know that tort reform is not enough. Senator Hatch's own Health Care Task force recommended that Congress should 'Establish a national program that ensures coverage for all Americans.' I will fight to do that; Senator Hatch will not.
"The people of Utah have a choice this November. I will fight for democracy, independence, and prosperity for all Utahns and all Americans. The opposition is someone who will fight only for those who can pay $500 or more for influence. My door is open now and will be open throughout my term in the Senate. My calendar is available for anyone to see and will stay that way. I have pledged to: uphold democracy; have open and honest government; fight for fair elections; encourage fiscal responsibility at my own expense; and stop nuclear testing. The people of Utah deserve a new Senator, for a new century."