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Loveland Reporter-Herald - "Fort Collins Republican Bob Schaffer ready for return to national political scene"

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Loveland Reporter-Herald - "Fort Collins Republican Bob Schaffer ready for return to national political scene"

It has been more than five years since Bob Schaffer left Congress, but now he's ready to return.

This time, the Fort Collins Republican hopes to represent more than the 4th Congressional District. Schaffer wants to serve in the U.S. Senate, where he would represent the entire state. He and opponent Mark Udall were asked the same five questions:

What policies should the United States pursue to increase energy independence and sustainability?

Schaffer thinks the country should allow more responsible energy exploration and harvest in the outer continental shelf and in the tundra of Alaska.

"(The government) should seek to make it legal for Americans to explore and develop energy resources on American soil and in American territory to a greater extent," Schaffer said.

There needs to be cleaner applications of coal with the development of emissions reduction strategies, he said.

Schaffer wants to see the country be more aggressive about unconventional energy sources such as nuclear and oil shale and wants tax credits for renewable energy development extended for a longer period of time to encourage private investment, he said.

Other strategies include exploring geothermal energy and using incentives for people to conserve more.

What strategies should Congress implement to strengthen the U.S. economy?

"Government is the problem: too much bureaucracy, a federal government that's too expensive, a regulatory burden that crushed creativity, entrepreneurship and job creation," Schaffer said.

He wants to see fewer government regulations, lower taxes and more responsibility placed in the hands of workers and employers.

In what ways should federal agencies address the pine beetle infestation in Colorado?

More responsibly managed human activity in national forests will help thin out trees and keep forests healthy, Schaffer said.

"Federal land managers over the last 10, 20 years could have dramatically slowed the infestation of pine beetles through active forest management," he said.

Permits should be issued to people who will remove dead trees to help avoid forest fires, and money should also be put aside in a fund for firefighting efforts in the future, Schaffer said. How would you assess the current strategy in Iraq, and what is the next step?

While the invasion went well, the post-invasion phase was disastrous, Schaffer said.

He does believe that the surge worked because Iraqi military and police are rising to the occasion, and the nation is generating revenue, he said.

"I am somewhat skeptical of a unified Iraq plan that assumes that a nation run primarily by Shiite leaders is going to be a long-term solution for a country that is one-third Kurds, one-third Sunnis and one-third Shiite, especially when the most aggressive neighboring influence is Iran," Schaffer said.

Taking a confederal approach, he said, by giving regional autonomy to the three groups under a central government, could be more successful.

Why is there so much partisanship in Congress?

Schaffer doesn't mind partisanship or divergent views in Congress, he said.

However, he does think there should be more statesmanship, and members should accept the decisions made by Congress.

"They decide that obstruction, delay and actually harming the nation serves them from a partisan perspective," he said.

Schaffer also said that the media reports too much on conflicts rather than agreements, and politicians feel rewarded by the media and voters if they are seen as being on the correct side of an issue.

"So you get a lot of people in Washington who create the crisis or the fight, so they can be on the right side of it," he said.

During your statewide campaign, what was your funniest "Colorado" moment?

"I'd say Mark Udall disagreeing with his own bill on Iraq," he said.

During a debate with Udall, Schaffer said he responded to a question asked about Iraq by reading Udall's bill.

At the time, Schaffer said Udall disagreed with it.

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