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Race to Washington: State senator, Libertarian candidate challenge Washington veteran for seat in U.S. Senate

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

Editor’s note: Democratic candidate Kay Hagan declined the invitation to the candidates’ forum. The Beacon made several attempts to reach Hagan by phone and e-mail for an interview, but she was unable to be reached by press time Tuesday.

If it were up to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the U.S. would begin drilling for oil immediately to break its dependence on foreign oil.

Alone on stage at a recent candidates’ forum in Wilmington, in which her opponents Democratic State Sen. Kay Hagan and Libertarian Chris Cole were absent, Dole was asked when and where does the U.S. pursue domestic drilling.

“Drill now. Drill now,” she said to applause.

“Let me just express my overall view on a comprehensive overall energy policy. I think we need to have everything on the table, including the kitchen sink,” Dole said.

“When you have 60 percent dependence on foreign sources of oil, like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad of Iran, and [Vladimir] Putin of Russia and [Hugo] Chavez of Venezuela, that’s not only an economic issue, it’s also a national security matter,” Dole said.

“That means we need to do something now.”

Dole supports drilling off the North Carolina coast and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“We could be getting a billion barrels a day from ANWR.”

Dole said she would also pursue drilling in the Rocky Mountains’ oil shell and in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The oil shell in the Rocky Mountains—they say if you bring that up, you’ll have three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia,” Dole said.

While she says drilling should begin immediately, Dole also supports alterative energy sources.

“The $17 billion that was passed back in 2004, it was incentives for oil companies. They don’t need incentives. I have legislation to switch that $17 billion over to alternative sources of energy,” Dole said.

When contacted by phone, Cole said he supports offshore drilling “wherever there’s oil accessible.”

But Cole said it’s an economic issue.

Cole said it doesn’t make sense to have oil supplies off our coast and still import oil from foreign sources.

When asked whether the states or the federal government should control offshore drilling, Cole said, “I don’t think either. I think it’s a private property issue.”

“It’s the right of discovery. The private company that discovers the oil should have the rights and the decision, not the federal government,” he said.

“They retain their profits under the same basis they would anywhere else,” he added.

When asked about pursing alternatives energy sources, Cole said nuclear energy is a technology he supports.

Economy

Dole voted against the Wall Street bailout Oct. 1.

“I was against the bailout. My opponent would not take a position. She took no position until 45 minutes after our vote was taken,” Dole said.

Cole said he opposed the bailout before it went to vote in the Senate, saying he issued a statement on his Web site opposing the bailout before the vote was taken.

“Unlike Ms. Hagan I was opposed to it before it was voted on,” Cole added.

Cole opposed the bailout because, “It doesn’t address the cause. It’s a mandate for effects. The cause is the Federal Reserve pumping credit into an economy, which created a bubble on debt-based assets.”

Cole proposes abolishing the Federal Reserve.

“Now, I was against the bailout because I think it was quickly put together; it was concocted in a very short period of time,” Dole explained.

“This is $700 billion, and then they sweetened it with another $150 billion to get the House to vote with the Senate on this. To me, this was just not acceptable. It was not done properly,” Dole said.

Dole said the bill has since been “tweaked” and now has equity in banks.

“I want to do what’s right for Main Street. This was focused on Wall Street. What about the folks who need to get the student loans, or who need loans for small business,” Dole said. “I’m hopeful that’s going to provide some help for Main Street.”

Dole said she did not foresee raising taxes to pay for the bailout.

“I, certainly, for one, will fight every inch of the way not to raise taxes,” Dole explained.

“In the time that I have been in the Senate, I have voted to reduce your taxes in North Carolina, or I’ve supported reduction in taxes by 25 percent. My opponent has voted 30 times to increase taxes since 2001—$5 billion worth.”

Education

When asked if the federal program No Child Left Behind was effective, Dole said the initiative had problems.

“I think there are some real problems with No Child Left Behind,” she said. Teachers say teaching to a test is an ineffective way of teaching, Dole said.

“I would not vote to re-authorize unless changes are made.”

Cole, who says he is a Constitutionalist, doesn’t support No Child Left Behind, because he says the federal government doesn’t have the authority to enact it, and that it was unconstitutional.

“I oppose the existence of No Child Left Behind,” Cole said.