Published on August 21st, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst33
McCain’s Colorado River Gaffe Might Cost Him Key Western States
John McCain has again said something to cause his fellow western-state Republicans to wince at his political inexpedience and apparent naivete for the issue at hand. And even though the Senator has now recanted and begun damage control, Democrats are hoping that this one will cost him. Some even argue that the gaff was so severe, he may have just lost Colorado.
McCain told The Pueblo Chieftan last week that he wants to renegotiate the 1922 Colorado River compact to re-appropriate water from the upper basin states, like Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, where the river originates and give it to lower basin states like California, and his home state of Arizona. McCain said:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties. I think that there’s a movement amongst the governors to try, if not, quote, renegotiate, certainly adjust to the new realities of high growth, of greater demands on a scarcer resource.”
“Over my cold, dead, political carcass,” said Bob Schaffer, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. “The compact is the only protection Colorado has from several more politically powerful downstream states. Opening it for renegotiation would be the equivalent of a lamb discussing with a pack of wolves what should be on the dinner menu.”
John Redifer, political science professor at Mesa State College, said McCain’s position makes sense in light of Arizona’s needs, but not as a national policy. “I wonder if he is running for president of the United States or for something in Arizona when he makes those statements,” Redifer was quoted as saying in the Grand Junction Sentinel. “I’m really kind of surprised that someone running for president … that needs to carry the state of Colorado would make a statement like that.”