EMBLEM – Wyoming needs a better leader to fight Washington’s “war on coal,” U.S. Senate hopeful Liz Cheney said during a Saturday tea party rally celebrated with dozens of American flags, a band playing old country music, and a speaker who warned about new Muslim mosques in the eastern U.S.
“Now it isn’t enough, in my opinion if you’re the sitting senator, to list the problems,” Cheney said during the event, which was also attended by incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi, whom Cheney is challenging in a Republican Party primary. “You’ve got to be able to say, ‘Here are the solutions. Here’s the fight we’re going to have, and here’s where we’re going to make a stand.’"
Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and resident of Wilson, said more needs to be done to fight against the war on coal, federal policies that are hurting ranchers, and President Obama’s general weakening of the United States.
“You don’t have to look any farther than Gillette,” she said about the Campbell County town near a handful of mines that produce 40 percent of the country’s coal for electrical power plants. Coal prices have been in a slump recently, and some people blame federal policies for it.
The comment was a criticism of Enzi, who calls Gillette home and was the city’s mayor from 1975 to 1982.
More people stood for an ovation of Cheney’s speech than Enzi’s. Enzi spoke first and did not criticize Cheney. After Cheney’s speech, Enzi told reporters that she had not listened to the solutions he described in his speech.
“If she thinks that I’m not involved in the war on coal, I’ve lived there,” Enzi said about Gillette. “I know it’s the energy capital of the nation. I’m working desperately to make sure this administration will do the right thing with coal. But I warned people this president, when he ran the first time, said he was going to end coal, and I’ve seen nothing that would change that. All the federal stuff comes from the top down.”
Enzi said he has a solid conservative record that anyone can look up. Cheney has never served in public office, Enzi said.
“She’s got no record,” he said. “She’s never voted on a single issue, and if you haven’t you can say anything you want to. ... But I’m in a position to do some things, and she would be new.”
Rally attendee David Butz of Greybull said he is underwhelmed by Enzi and liked what Cheney had to say. He will vote for her, he said.
“She’s got five kids,” he said. “She knows what she’s saying.”
Debbie Black of Powell said she doesn’t know whom she will vote for. She thought Cheney was a good speaker. But she thought Enzi has good qualities, too.
“I would hate to give up our seniority,” she said about Enzi, who is seeking his fourth term.
The tea party rally was in the hamlet of Emblem, between Cody and Greybull, on the property of attorney Robert DiLorenzo, a founder of the Big Horn Basin tea party. Attendees, many in cowboy hats and Western boots, live in the basin and described themselves as conservative Republicans. Over plates of barbecue, not all said they are active in the tea party, but most said they identified with parts of its platform.
Earlier in the day, Wayne Simmons, one of the speakers at the tea party rally, said hundreds of mosques are springing up on the East Coast and that’s not a good thing because that’s where terrorists can be recruited and where money can be laundered.
“The liberals of the world would have you believe they are practicing freedom of religion,” he said. “That is nonsense.”
Enzi said that he wasn’t familiar with terrorists being recruited from those mosques.
“We have to be very careful with our religious freedom, that we don’t give up our Bill of Rights,” he said.
Cheney said that Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who preached at mosques in the United States, is believed to have communicated with Fort Hood shooter Army Maj. Nidal Hasan.
“I do think that we know that recruitment goes on through mosques,” she said.