Obama Woos Big Sky Vets
Senator Obama met with military families and veterans in a bucolic setting in Billings, Montana today. In front of a backdrop of a lazy river, trees, and a mountain, he pledged to do more for Americans veterans. Veterans' programs need to be better funded for the long term, he said. And veterans' hospitals need the resources to be able to provide the care and benefits vets have earned.
Despite the outdoor setting, this was a town-hall meeting. And overall it was a friendly crowd. The questions mainly focused on vets issues...but other topics came up too. One elderly gentleman suggested a higher gas tax to help fund infrastructure improvements like better roads and more passenger railroads. He noted that many veterans in a wide open place like Montana have a hard time getting to a veterans facility for care.
Senator Obama said he doesn't want to do anything to increase the burden on people already struggling to afford high priced gasoline. But he used the moment to pitch his call for greater auto fuel efficiency and for investment in alternative energy sources.
Another man stood up and greeted Senator Obama with a deep-throated "thank you, very much" and then noted that he must sound like Elvis. The candidate asked if he was about to break into song. Instead the man launched into a statement about nuclear waste. He is opposed to nuclear power and doesn't want any more waste produced, since it could wind up being stored in a spacious state like Montana or Nevada.
Obama said he was going to disagree with the man, "slightly". The Senator said nuclear power produces no carbon emissions, so it should be a part of the mix in a new energy policy for the country.
The Senator bid everyone a farewell, after noting that Montana has been his favorite discovery of the election campaign. (And after last night's dynamic speech from a bolo-tied MT Governor Brian Schweitzer he has more than one reason to feel that way.)
And off he went. Next stop: Denver.