RENO - Democrats are showing their desperation by continuing to make unsubstantiated claims that George W. Bush would bring a nuclear waste dump to Nevada, Gov. Kenny Guinn said.
The Republican governor said he thinks either the Democrat Al Gore or the GOP nominee Bush would serve the state well in regard to Yucca Mountain if they stick to the promises they've made so far.
''This is just what they call a red herring,'' Guinn said.
''The Democrats keep coming out and trying to make something out of it because Al Gore is so far behind in this state,'' he said.
''It isn't going to work. The people are too intellectually astute to buy that.''
Guinn made his comments Thursday in response to a letter Gore wrote to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and members of Nevada's delegation to the National Democratic Convention reaffirming his commitment to block efforts to open a high-level radioactive waste dump north of Las Vegas.
The vice president said he would follow President Clinton's example and veto legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from developing radiation standards for a permanent waste site at Yucca Mountain before June 2001.
''You have my commitment in opposing such legislation in the future as the nation seeks a safe and permanent solution to the issue of nuclear waste disposal,'' Gore wrote.
''I would veto such legislation if it were sent to me.''
Reid, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, called a news conference in Los Angeles to trumpet the letter and repeat his claim that, ''If George W. Bush is elected, we'll have nuclear waste in the state of Nevada within six months of his being inaugurated.''
Guinn said the letter was nothing new.
''It's what Gore and George W. Bush have been saying all along,'' he said.
Reid says the difference is Bush has not promised a veto.
Guinn said Bush told him personally, ''I don't talk about vetoing something when I'm not even there.''
The governor said he does not believe Reid's assertion that a victory for Bush means nuclear waste in Nevada.
''If I were talking the same way he (Reid) did, I could say the same thing on the other side. But I'm just not going to do that because I cannot speak for Mr. Bush or Mr. Gore,'' Guinn said.
''I will trust them as two people who are the candidates for the president of the United States of America,'' he said.
''I think that they will use good judgment and they will continue on the trail that they will not approve any bill that is not proven on scientific data and is not safe for the people. ... It will be hard for them to change that philosophy.''
The most recent statewide poll in Nevada, commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in June, showed Bush leading Gore by a 12-point margin, 49 percent to 37 percent.
Guinn stopped short of accusing Reid or the Democrats of being disingenuous in their arguments about Yucca Mountain.
Reid ''is spinning it for the Democrats and I'm trying to tell you what it is for the Republicans,'' he said.
Guinn said Democrats' claims that Bush would be bad for the casino industry because he doesn't want gambling in Texas aren't true.
''I talked to George W. Bush personally,'' Guinn said. ''He says, 'Why should you want to come to Texas to gamble when the greatest place in the world to gamble is Las Vegas, Nevada?' That is a tremendous statement.''