Kulongoski reasserts his support of Clinton candidacy

Kulongoski reasserts his support of Clinton candidacy

Gov. Ted Kulongoski visited Medford on Thursday to voice his support for Hillary Clinton and her recently released "Oregon Compact," an 11-point plan that focuses on regional issues.

Standing in front of the Central Library in downtown Medford, he also repeated a Clinton campaign call, launched Wednesday, for two debates in Oregon with Barack Obama.

"I believe Oregon can be important to this election," Kulongoski said. "We deserve national attention on issues that affect us. It's our time to shine."

Oregon's May 20 presidential primary, once thought to be too late in the campaign to matter, has taken on increased significance.

Nick Shapiro, communications director for the Obama campaign in Oregon, previously issued a statement indicating that a debate here is unlikely after 21 Democratic debates and four one-on-one debates with Clinton that have been televised nationally.

He said Obama's focus is on meeting directly with Oregon voters about issues that matter to them, including jobs, ending the war in Iraq, combating climate change and making health care affordable for all.

Kulongoski, who is a superdelegate to the Democratic convention, said he had watched all the candidates, then thrown his support behind Clinton nearly a year ago.

"She is the smartest person in this campaign," he said. "She has more experience, not just political experience, but life experience, and that's what makes us who we are."

The governor's staff and other Oregon Democrats helped create the compact by tailoring Clinton's general campaign points to regional concerns.

The compact points out her support for federal payments to timber-dependent counties and for state authority to decide on the placement of liquefied natural gas terminals.

It also outlines her plans to protect old-growth forests and roadless areas, expand wilderness areas and manage forests in a way that protects resources and creates jobs. She advocates working together to restore wild salmon populations without breaching large dams, the document says.

Kulongoski touted Clinton's understanding of health care, support for soldiers and veterans through a new G.I. bill, and promises on creating "green" jobs and cutting oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions. She also would defend Oregon's law that allows terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives.

Shapiro noted that the two candidates agree on many of the issues targeted in Clinton's compact, including health care and support for veterans and service members.

"Oregonians need more than a plan," he said. "We need leadership to solve the problems that we talk about year after year after year in Washington."

In an interview with the Mail Tribune in March, Obama said he supports state authority to decide on placement of liquefied natural gas terminals, that he advocates federal, state and local authorities working together to find a long-term solution on timber payments, and that he wouldn't use Justice Department resources to circumvent state laws on physician-assisted suicide or medical marijuana.

His campaign pointed out that he also favors creating green jobs, controlling oil use and global warming, protecting parks and wilderness areas, and sustainably managing forests and salmon populations.

Obama netted the endorsement of Oregon superdelegate U.S. Rep. David Wu, who announced his support Thursday in Portland.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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