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Postman on Politics

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

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May 23, 2008 8:23 AM

Obama, Gregoire and Hanford

Posted by David Postman

When Gov. Chris Gregoire endorsed Barack Obama in February,

She said she talked with Obama four times, including a 30-minute conversation that impressed her with his grasp of health care and Washington state-specific issues.

But over the weekend, when asked about Gregoire’s pet issue of clean-up of the nuclear waste from Hanford, Obama said:

"Here's something that you will rarely hear from a politician, and that is that I'm not familiar with the Hanford site, so I don't know exactly what's going on there. … Now, having said that, I promise you I'll learn about it by the time I leave here on the ride back to the airport."

Obama’s response to the question is sort of the Microsoft Windows approach: That’s not a glitch, that’s a new feature. (I think this could catch on with other professions, too. Imagine, "Here's something that you will rarely hear from a surgeon: Oops."

But Obama’s attempt to turn nuclear waste into lemonade made me wonder what state-specific issues he and the governor talked about for half an hour. Did Gregoire bring up Hanford, an issue she has dealt with going back more than 15 years when she was director of the Department of Ecology? I asked her communications director, Pearse Edwards. He said:

The Governor talked to Senator Obama about a host of state and national issues- health care and global climate change, in particular - and his vision for the country. The Senator and the Governor have a strong relationship and she will continue to talk to the Senator about issues that impact Washington state. The Governor is aware of the Senator's comments on Hanford, an issue that is important to her. Given Senator Obama's excellent record on the environment and his most recent comments supporting the Hanford site cleanup effort, she has all the confidence that she and Senator Obama will work well together on issues that affect Washingtonians.

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