Udall, Schaffer throw gas on McCain water-statement wildfire

Congressman Mark Udall Friday in Vail graciously resisted “piling on” Arizona Sen. John McCain for his now-infamous gaffe last weekend about wanting to renegotiate the Colorado River Compact, while the “cold, dead political carcass” of Udall’s Senate opponent, Bob Schaffer, nervously laughed off what McCain “may” have said to the Pueblo Chieftain.

Telling the audience at the Colorado Water Congress summer convention that a reporter asked him to respond to the notion of renegotiating the pact that distributes water use among the states along the Colorado River without attributing it to McCain, the Republican Schaffer had this narrative Friday in Vail:

“I made some statement on the order of, ‘over my cold, dead, political carcass’, and talked about how this is only real guarantee and protection that we have against more politically powerful downstream and thirsty states and to renegotiate this, to use another context, that would be the equivalent of a lamb having a discussion with a pack of wolves about what’s going to be on the dinner menu,” Schaffer said.

Because of his response and that of other politicians (perhaps alluding to Sen. Ken Salazar’s “over my dead body” response to McCain’s initial position), Schaffer said McCain was forced to back off the suggestion two days ago.

“(McCain) hopes that there will be vibrant discussion among the governors and water users of affected states — a much better approach, so I’m glad to hear that.”

Schaffer’s opponent in the Senate race, Democrat Mark Udall, said he respects McCain and has co-sponsored more legislation with him than any other member of the Colorado delegation, but doesn’t expect the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to step in the doo-doo again on this issue.

“I’m not given to kicking someone when they’re down or piling on and I’m not going to do that today,” Udall said. “I have tremendous personal respect for Sen. McCain and consider him a good friend. On this issue he couldn’t be more wrong and I think he knows it. Water’s our lifeblood.”

The nonprofit Colorado Water Congress is a policy group comprised of more than 300 stakeholders ranging from local governments to environmental, agricultural, industrial and commercial water users.

“This is a matter for the states to decide without pressure from any federal official from the president on down,” Udall said. “Now I suspect Sen. McCain had his Arizona hat on when he spoke [to the Chieftain], and I don’t think he’ll be putting that hat on any more between now and Election Day.”

Check out this related story about GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams and influential lobbyist Wally Stealey trading barbs over 527 groups during the Vail water confab.

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