Pelosi Talks Politics in Missoula

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rallied volunteers for the campaign of presidential candidate Barack Obama on Saturday while in Montana for the wedding of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and actress Jennifer Siebel, a relative of software tycoon and part-time Montana resident Tom Siebel.

Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco, also spoke to Western Progress, a regional policy group with offices in Missoula.

Many of Montana’s leading Democrats were at the opposite end of the state, in Miles City, on Saturday to adopt their party’s platform for the November elections.

Used to a low profile during national election cycles, the state has drawn growing attention from Democratic luminaries who say the importance of the Rocky Mountain West should not be underestimated. Obama’s visit to the mining city of Butte over the Fourth of July marked the fourth time he had been in Montana during his bid for the White House.

In an interview with the Missoulian, Pelosi said concerns she heard among Montanans included legislation to increase funding for wildfire management.

“The message about rural America is different from the rest of the country,” she said. “It’s things like the farm bill and broadband access for everyone. These are the issues everyone cares about, but it’s different in rural America. Montana is where the infrastructure comes together, where Lewis and Clark came, where Yellowstone park started. Montana has been the inspiration for policy that’s forward-thinking for the rest of the country.”

Pelosi wove that theme into her speech to Western Progress at a Missoula hotel.

She talked about repair of the nation’s roads, bridges, parks and cities and said such work could be funded through creative budgeting and use of bonds, rather than through higher taxes.

Speaking about the war in Iraq, she said it is “not making us safer, it’s not making the region more stable and it undermines our ability to fight the war on terrorism.”

The continued occupation of Iraq has diverted attention from the more significant dangers in Afghanistan and has hobbled the U.S. military’s ability to face threats elsewhere in the world, Pelosi said.