Richardson talks values, health care during Fernley visit
Nevada Appeal News Service
FERNLEY – Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, was greeted with applause from Democrats and Republicans alike as he entered the room during a quick campaign stop at Fernley High School.
Richardson began his speech by saying he loves rural towns and feels at home in rural Nevada.
“New Mexico is very much like Nevada. We’ve got a few big cities and then the rest is rural – like Fernley, where values are important,” he said.
Richardson said Nevada is vital to his campaign.
“If I don’t do well in Nevada, a state that like New Mexico is rural, a state that’s a Western state, you know people are going to say, ‘My god, this candidate can’t even do well in his own region,'” he said. “The small towns, that’s very much the West.”
In his career, Richardson has been a diplomat, the secretary of energy, a congressman, and has served in the president’s cabinet.
“I can bring people together, I’m a unifier,” he said, saying that the nation needs to heal. “We are too divided – we think of ourselves too much as red states, blue states. But we need to think of ourselves as red, white and blue states. It’s America.”
He said the war in Iraq has cost the county $450 billion.
“It seems to me that if we’re spending $450 billion overseas, we ought to be spending it on our own people, on health care, on education,” Richardson said, eliciting applause from the crowd. “That’s issue number one, for our country to come together.”
Richardson said candidates from all around the country will be coming to Nevada.
“I’m proud to have been the first, but you’re going to have a rush of candidates here,” he said. “You want the problems of Fernley and rural Nevada to be at the top of any presidential candidate.”
He said Western issues that have been ignored over the years will have a national voice. Candidates will have to take positions on issues like water, water resources and conservation.
“For years the issues that you and I have struggled with, whether it is making sure we protect the land spaces here … issues relating to water, the need for water conservation need to be addressed,” he said. “What I propose is that we treat water as a national issue.”
Richardson said he would create a Department of Water within the Department of Interior. Mining, agriculture, economic development and transportation issues in the West need to be addressed nationally, he said.
He said Nevada could be a big winner in natural resources and renewable energy.
Richardson said “65 percent of oil is imported, from countries not friendly to Nevada.”
“This is fertile ground. I think the potential is enormous here in Nevada to create new renewable energy technology,” he said.
On health care, he said the focus should be on the uninsured, the underinsured and those with pre-existing conditions.
Richardson added that the veterans in the country receive inadequate care and that mental health is a serious issue for these soldiers.
“If I’m president, if I’m going to send kids off to war, I’m going to send them with the best equipment possible, which we haven’t done,” Richardson said, continuing that he would take care of military personnel when they return home.