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Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., appears on a giant video screen in front of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.
Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., appears on a giant video screen in front of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.

Western Pols in Spotlight at DNC

Top Western Democrats took the podium at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Wednesday, highlighting the region’s resurgence in the party. Few, though, made reference to the region they call home.

From Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., to Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Wednesday night featured some of the biggest Democratic names in the West.

It followed high-profile appearances on Tuesday night, which included a rousing appearance by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

The toughest words came from Reid, who lambasted the Bush administration for its energy policies.

“The history of the last hundred years has been a toxic mix of oil and war,” said Reid, who painted energy policy as a matter of national defense.

“If we continue to follow this slippery oil-slicked, downward-winding path,” Reid said, “our citizens will shiver in darkness as our resources hemorrhage to Third World thugs whose only virtue is their control of petroleum-based energy.”

Reid blasted President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for what he said was rewarding friends in the oil industry and turning their backs on conservation, fuel efficiency and alternative fuels. He called Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s energy policy “snake oil” and warned his push for more offshore oil drilling could harm critical fisheries.

“At best this is an 18th century answer to a 21st century crisis; at worst it’s pure baloney,” he said.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was raised in Denver, praised Obama’s foreign policy plans and his call to withdraw the troops from Iraq.

“For me, this week is a homecoming,” Albright said. “Denver is the city that welcomed my family to the United States after we were driven from our native Czechoslovakia, first by Nazi storm troopers and then by communists. Denver is where I grew up believing in the American Dream and in a country that, more than any other, is associated with truth, justice and freedom.”

Udall, who is running for senator, was one of the few to make note of his Western heritage.

Taking aim at Bush’s economic policies and his opponent Steve Pearce, Udall said, “in the West, we know Washington is broken and Barack Obama is the change we need.”

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