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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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May 13, 2008 8:00 AM

McCain in state today to continue green talk

Posted by David Postman

John McCain will hold a roundtable discussion later this morning in North Bend to talk about the environment. Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, a longtime McCain supporter here, said that former Republican Gov. Dan Evans is expected to moderate the discussion.

Also around the table will be Republican Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, REI CEO Sally Jewell
and others. Jewell’s presence -- see a profile of her here -- shows that at least not all the participants are Republicans. State and federal campaign finance records show she primarily gives to Democrats.

She has donated to Sen. Maria Cantwell, congressmen Brian Baird and Jay Inslee and congressional candidate Darcy Burner. She also has given at least $2,000 to Gov. Chris Gregoire, as well as $100 in 2004 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

Munro did not have the full list of participants. But, he said

This is not designed to be a bunch of yes people. It’s designed to say, ‘We’ve made a lot of progress, but what more should we be doing.’

McCain’s northwest campaign swing, with a stop yesterday in Portland to deliver a global warming speech, is also designed to distance the Republican candidate from President Bush’s environmental record, as well as an attempt to draw a distinction with the Democratic presidential candidates.

McCain said in Portland yesterday:

I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. … I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a McCain senior policy advisor, later used a conference call with reporters to end any question about whether McCain meant to criticize Bush’s record. Holtz-Eakin said McCain’s proposal for a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases marked the “beginning of the end of the Bush administration’s inaction on climate change.”

Holtz-Eakin described the plan as a middle-ground between what interest groups on the left and right would prefer. He said the timetable for reducing carbon emissions and the approach to do that is not a “litmus test” to appeal to the environmental community or “inaction chosen to appeal” to business interests.

Stories in the New York Times and Washington Post lead with the McCain/Bush angle.

But McCain is also talking about the environment this week to try to fill a gap he sees in the presidential campaign.

“Our feeling is the Democrats aren’t talking about the environment at all,” Munro said. “It never seems to get mentioned. There’s no debate.”

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