Wednesday, August 27, 2008


DENVER — U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, speaking to New Mexico delegates to the Democratic National Convention at breakfast Wednesday, said Republicans are starting to use “swift boat” tactics against him in his race for U.S. Senate.

A few moments later Udall introduced the next speaker, a Texas oil man who in 2004 helped financed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- an organization that infamously attacked presidential candidate John Kerry with some claims that turned out not to be true.
But T. Boone Pickens, a lifelong Republican, wasn’t there to talk about partisan politics. He was there to speak on The Pickens Plan, his ambitious agenda for alternative energy. He’s been running national television commercials for the plan.

Pickens wants to spend $1 trillion on wind-turbine farms for power generation and use natural gas to fuel automobiles. Pickens claims the proposal would cut the amount the country spends annually on foreign oil from $700 billion to $400 billion.

Pickens told the Democrats that his plan differs with Al Gore’s call to switch to electric automobiles within 10 years. He said it would be more realistic to use natural gas for cars for the next 20-30 years. “Then we’ll get to Al’s plan.”

Those attending the breakfast responded enthusiastically. After the talk many Democrats crowded Pickens to shake his hand and pose with him for photos.

Asked how it felt to be fawned over by all these Democrats, Pickens said, “It’s great. I like people who like me.”

Although Pickens was quoted in April by The Wall Street Journal Online that he was supporting Republican presidential candidate John McCain, PIckens said Wednesday after his talk that he’s staying out of the presidential race to concentrate on his energy plan.

Speaking of bipartisan, in New Mexico Pickens has hired a couple of top Democratic strategists — former Bill Richardson campaign manager Dave Contarino and former Patricia Madrid campaign manager Caroline Buerkle — to promote The Pickens Plan. Pickens plans to speak at a town hall forum in Albuquerque on Sept. 10.

So did Udall, who is running against Republican Steve Pearce for Senate, commit a faux pas by mentioning swift boats? No, said his campaign manager Amanda Cooper. “T. Boone’s cool with it.”

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