According to an article at the Denver Post, Republican Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) suggested that the Colorado River Water Compact should be renegotiated. Colorado Democrat Governor Bill Ritter and Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) seized on this word used by McCain and put their own meaning to it. Salazar claims,
The political disruption that would result from any renegotiation of these allocations would create a water war across the West.
Governer Ritter commented,
[McCain’s statements on the water compact] just showed to me either a naivete or even a hostility toward water usage in Colorado.
Even Colorado Senate candidate Bob Schaffer had strong words for McCain,
[McCain] will not have a more fierce fight from a United States senator than he will from me.
McCain sent a letter to Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) to clarify his statement and assure him that his words were taken out of context and he had no intention of rescinding the Water Compact.
My recent remarks may have been mistakenly construed as a call to rescind the Colorado River compact and commence negotiations for new water allocations. Let me be clear that I do not advocate renegotiation of the compact. I support constructive, continuing cooperation and dialogue among the states and the water users in a manner that is fully consistent with the compact.
After reading McCain’s letter to Senator Allard, Bob Schaffer commented,
It’s obvious to me that when Sen. McCain was in possession of sufficient background information, he quickly came to the right and proper conclusion on the Colorado river compact.
John McCain ended up on the right side of this issue, but has given Colorado democrats some talking points with his early statements on the issue. This is especially important for them because they’ve been beaten up pretty severely over oil drilling for the past few months.
The democrats of course will continue to trumpet McCain’s earlier statements on the issue and neglect to mention his later clarifications. This will likely soften the blow they’ve taken on energy.
Colorado remains the battleground State for 2008. It’s important that every candidate carefully measure their words before making policy statements here. Every word will be placed under a microscope until November.