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War front and center at Golden town hall meeting
By Karen Rouse
Denver Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 21, 2003 - GOLDEN - The topic of war in Iraq dominated a joint town hall meeting held by Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Bob Beauprez on Thursday morning as peace supporters demanded justification for war and others backed President Bush.
Maura Cleary, a peace activist from Boulder, asked Allard how he responds to the thousands of people around the world and in Colorado who have protested the war.
"People in Colorado Springs were gassed by police," she said, referring to a weekend demonstration in which police used tear gas on protesters.
Allard said he backs Bush and that a "strong America will lead to world peace." He said the United States must not "back away from commitments."
The town hall meeting was one of three held in Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe counties Thursday. It drew about 55 residents with questions about health care, jobs and federal phone-bill taxes. But the subject of war quickly moved to the forefront.
Allard said the villain in the standoff with Iraq is Saddam Hussein.
"Americans are not the villain," he said. "The president is not the villain."
Beauprez said he believes Bush wants to avoid war, but, he said, "We're talking about an enemy that rapes and pillages and gasses his own people."
He noted that Bush comforted families after Sept. 11 and said the president doesn't want to have to "comfort families again" if America doesn't act.
Harold Weissler, 88, of Golden said he has fought in war and doesn't believe it solves problems.
"I'm opposed to it," he said. "Americans do not know what war is. It has never been on our shores."
Allard replied that Americans experienced war at Pearl Harbor and on Sept. 11.
C. Bensley Newton, president of Harvesters International Marketing, said he does not support war and believes America should work longer at diplomacy. But he said Americans also need to look at the greater good.
War was necessary to free Jews from concentration camps, he said.
Cleary said she doesn't believe Allard will consider her anti-war stance.
"He sloughed off every comment," she said. "I see no difference anything that was said makes to him."
"Sometimes these things make a difference, sometimes they don't," Allard said after the meeting. "I have to vote my conscience. You weigh ... the pros and cons."
War wasn't the only subject on the minds of residents. One woman asked Beauprez how elderly residents were supposed to find a new doctor after their own stopped accepting Medicare.
Another constituent told Allard he had friends who were losing high-tech jobs to foreign workers. And another man pleaded with Beauprez and Allard to push for federal building codes to accommodate the disabled.
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