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McCain defies Bush on environment, fields 14 questions

HUDSON - Sen. John McCain drove home one point time and again during his campaign swing through Minnesota and Wisconsin - "straight talk" is more than a campaign slogan to him.

For instance, he drew a strong contrast between him and fellow Republican President Bush over environmental issues.

The Republican presidential candidate used the "straight talk" term several times during his hour and a half visit to J and L Steel Erectors in Hudson, where he met an almost-all-women audience that asked questions similar to a St. Paul town hall meeting three weeks earlier.

McCain, who visited his St. Paul headquarters Thursday night, was well received by the mostly Republican audience in a Hudson industrial park, answering 14 questions after an opening statement in which he promoted his economic package as being good for women.

McCain's strongest statements came when he criticized Bush's environmental record.

"As you know, I have had a strong disagreement with the administration on climate change," he said.

Telling the audience that he traveled to environmentally important areas extensively at government expense, he said global warming is real.

However, he added, even if it is not real, and the federal government works to fix the problem, "then all we have done is given our kids a cleaner planet."

The Arizona senator said environmentally friendly businesses are key to the future American economy.

McCain fielded 14 questions during the town hall meeting, his preferred venue. And he criticized his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, for failing to accept his offer to attend joint town hall meetings.

In preparation for McCain's Minnesota and Wisconsin visit, Democrats repeated their charge that McCain would give Americans a third President

McCain said he has opposed many Bush initiatives.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.