Mitt Romney calls for Salazar’s job

Presidential hopeful names Interior head one of ‘gas hike trio’

Editor’s note: This is the Herald’s weekly roundup of campaign news.

DENVER – Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney took aim at a top Colorado figure this week, calling for the firing of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

In campaign stops and a new video ad, Romney called on President Barack Obama to fire Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson, calling them the “gas hike trio.”

Colorado Democrats rushed to Salazar’s defense. Former cabinet secretary Federico Peña said Coloradans are proud of Salazar.

“Ken has led the charge on behalf of Colorado’s people, land and water for decades, having risen from humble beginnings to become one of the first Latinos to lead the U.S. Department of Interior,” Peña in a prepared statement.

On Tuesday, Romney won the Illinois primary and is more than halfway toward the 1,144 delegates he will need to become the Republican nominee. He’s 300 delegates ahead of second-place candidate Rick Santorum, according to counts by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Seniors at stake: Campaigning in the 3rd Congressional District focused heavily on senior citizens last week as the two sides traded barbs about which one will do more to protect health care.

Both sides are pointing to a Thursday vote on a GOP health care bill.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, touted his vote to repeal a part of Obama’s health-care law. H.R. 5 would end the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was set up in 2010 to control costs in Medicare.

“This panel of unelected bureaucrats would be tasked by the president to cut Medicare programs without any public input, making critical health-care decisions for seniors by determining which care options they can and can’t receive,” Tipton said in a news release.

Democrats, though, characterized the vote as a move against Medicare itself.

“When given the chance to protect Medicare, Representative Scott Tipton reconfirmed his commitment to ending Medicare, making things harder for Colorado seniors,” said Stephen Carter of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Tipton’s Democratic opponent, Sal Pace, of Pueblo, began circulating a petition last weekend to call on Congress to protect Medicare.

Also this week, the DCCC launched robocalls against Tipton and other Republican incumbents, calling voters’ attention to their votes for last year’s House GOP budget that would have replaced Medicare with vouchers to buy private insurance.

House Republicans included the voucher idea in a new budget they advanced this week.

Countdown: 94 days until the primary election. 227 days until the November election.

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