Cheney Says He Loves Fish
by Nicholas K. Geranios, The Associated Press
SPOKANE - Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney loves salmon, but not enough to support the breaching of four Snake River dams.
An avid fly fisherman, Cheney said yesterday that if running mate George W. Bush is elected president, the dams would remain.
"I don't think breaching the dams on the Snake River makes sense" because of power shortages in the West, Cheney told supporters in a hotel ballroom. Endangered salmon runs can be saved in ways that don't threaten power supplies, he said.
He also took a swipe at Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, who did not mention the dams Monday night during a 30-minute speech in Spokane.
"Al Gore took a pass when he was here a day ago," Cheney said.
The dams are a hot issue in the Northwest. Environmentalists want to breach them to help endangered salmon runs recover. But a coalition of barge operators, industrial users, farmers and others oppose breaching.
The Clinton administration has said it won't consider breaching for at least five years. Gore has said little on the issue. Bush and Cheney have said they oppose breaching.
Cheney's speech to a polite audience in a hotel ballroom was in marked contrast to Gore's rally Monday night at Gonzaga University. Gore entered the college's basketball arena amid flashing lights and artificial smoke and had a marching band, cheerleaders and the Gonzaga bulldog mascot at his side.
Cheney was flanked by flags as he gave a speech and answered questions.
"On Nov. 7, two weeks from today, there's going to be an election, and it's also going to be the end of the Clinton-Gore era," Cheney said in his biggest applause line. "We'll do our best to give you the kind of government you can be proud of once again."
Cheney, secretary of defense under former President Bush, said military preparedness has suffered under President Clinton. He pointed to the recent attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
"Everyone serving on the USS Cole is a volunteer," Cheney said. "If we are going to send them in harm's way, we have got an obligation to see to it they have the resources they need."
Cheney said that if Bush is elected, half the projected $4.6 trillion surplus forecast over the next 10 years would be set aside for Social Security, with one-fourth to pay for government programs and one-fourth to fund a tax cut.
Gore's tax cut would offer no help to 50 million people, Cheney said. Gore has argued that GOP tax cuts would go heavily to the richest Americans.
Just before his speech, Cheney was given a demonstration of fuel-cell technology developed by Avista Laboratories, a Spokane company that creates electricity by using hydrogen.
"We have job openings," Kim Zentz, president of Avista Laboratories, said.
"I don't think I need one," Cheney replied. "I've got other plans."
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