McCain stumps at town hall meeting in Sparks, meets supporters in Incline

SPARKS " Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain told an audience of 1,250 in Sparks on Tuesday he will not support new or increased taxes on a nation struggling with a damaged economy.

The Arizona senator said that if he is elected president, he will sit down with the Democrats in Congress and work out solutions to the nation's problems and that he has faith they can do it.

"Americans want us to sit down together and put things together for the benefit of this country," he said at a speech at Reed High School.

In those negotiations, he said, "everything has to be on the table." But he avoided answering whether "everything" includes tax increases.

McCain held a town hall meeting in Sparks, his second in Washoe County this campaign season.

During the meeting and in a roundtable with local reporters afterward, he touched on several Nevada issues including Yucca Mountain and the 1872 mining law.

McCain repeated his support for nuclear power, saying he wants to build 45 nuclear plants in the U.S. by 2030. And he said he still supports the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump but for "storage and reprocessing" rather than just as a dump site. He said Yucca Mountain "has to go through the requirements so environmental and safety concerns are met."

McCain said he believes the 1872 mining law needs to be updated. A bill to update the law, sponsored by Democrat Nick Rahall of West Virginia, has been stuck in the Senate. The bill would place an 8 percent royalty on current and future mining operations on public lands.

"Hello. Times have changed," he said adding that the act should be reviewed thoroughly and brought up to date.

"I'm not saying that would automatically have them paying more," he said.

He was challenged at one point by a man who identified himself as a Douglas County conservative who said, "I have to say I'm not very excited about this election."

"Me and a lot of conservatives are voting against Mr. Obama more than anything else," the man said.

McCain defended his positions raised by participants at the forum, including immigration " saying the U.S. needs an effective temporary- worker program " and global warming. He said he believes global warming is real but that, if it isn't, "we end up with a cleaner planet."

"Suppose I'm right and we do nothing. What kind of planet are we going to hand off to our kids?" he asked.

He said nuclear energy, "clean coal" and renewable resources are the nation's way to escape the nation's dependence on foreign energy. He wants $2 billion worth of scientific research to clean up coal-fired plants so the nation's huge coal resources can help with the energy problem.

At the same time, he called for approval to drill for more oil in the U.S., Alaska and along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. President Bush has already called for lifting of the ban on offshore drilling.

McCain said the nation can recover economically and from the housing market's woes. And he said the federal government's runaway spending can be reined in and the deficit reduced.

And he repeated his pledge to veto pork barrel projects stuffed into legislation if he is elected.

"We're sick and tired of the 3 million dollars we spent to study the DNA of bears in Montana," he said.

"I'll veto every single pork barrel bill that comes across my desk," he said.

Yet McCain, when asked about helping those who have lost jobs, proposed a subsidy.

He said if an older worker loses a job and has to take a lower-paying job, "I would supplement that worker's pay until he gets retraining."

"We have to help people who cannot help themselves."

For people in trouble with the mortgages, he called for 30-year FHA guaranteed loans "at the new value of their house." But he said that would only be for a primary residence because "most Americans are not interested in rescuing the speculator."

McCain followed the town hall meeting in Sparks with a private fundraiser at Incline Village before leaving for Denver and another fundraiser Tuesday night.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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