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Bush Takes On Salmon Issue in Washington

by Nicholas K. Geranios of the Associated Press, July 9, 1999

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Campaigning in the Northwest, Texas Gov. George W. Bush says Pacific Coast salmon should be protected, but not at the expense of dams on the Snake River.

An environmental group, American Rivers, has identified the Snake River as the most endangered river in the nation, reporting that its fish population has dropped by 90 percent since four dams were constructed in the early 1970s.

At a brief news conference after his arrival Wednesday night at Spokane International Airport, the Republican presidential front-runner was asked about the salmon issue.``I think it's very important for us to protect the fish, but I think we can do so in a way that doesn't cause the dams to have to be breached,'' he said.``I understand how significant the dams are.''

The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to complete a study next year on whether breaching the dams is the best way to help the salmon.

While environmentalists say that removing the earthen portions of the four dams would allow water and salmon to flow freely past them, industry groups say the move would also render the dams useless.

Bush planned a breakfast address this morning to about 700 people who paid $20 each to hear him. ``This is not intended to be a fund-raiser,'' Bush press secretary Mindy Tucker said. ``It's to let the people in Spokane know why he is running, his philosophy of compassionate conservatism.''

A fund-raiser was arranged for later in the day, at the Seattle-area home of telecommunications tycoon Craig McCaw. That event was expected to raise at least $300,000.

Bush, on his first swing through Washington, is hoping his presidential bid is better received than the campaigns of his father in the Evergreen State. Former President Bush lost Washington's electoral votes in the 1988 and 1992 presidential elections.

The Seattle visit has created a bit of controversy, since Bush declined an invitation to speak before a national conference of minority journalists. His office issued a statement saying he was too busy. ``Unfortunately, we are not able to schedule everything on this first trip,'' the statement said.

Two Democratic candidates - Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley - both agreed to address the Unity '99 conference.

Bush, 53, has collected the endorsements of many top Republican leaders during this western swing. On Wednesday, a six-pack of GOP governors - from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah - endorsed him in Salt Lake City.

After speaking in Spokane, Bush was to fly to Seattle. He was scheduled to talk to 200 kids about the perils of the Internet and then meet with Microsoft executives at the software giant's suburban campus before the fund-raiser. The Texas governor has called for freeing Internet sales from duties and tariffs. He also supports a permanent federal research-and-development tax credit and has pledged not to raise federal personal or corporate taxes.

Bush has also proposed intensifying efforts to combat intellectual piracy and supports raising the limit on the number of highly skilled workers allowed into the country under so-called H-1B visas.

By Nicholas K. Geranios
Bush Takes On Salmon Issue in Washington
Associated Press - July 9, 1999

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