Pete Coors is the Republican candidate running for the U.S.
Senate seat for Colorado.
Coors was born in Golden and still lives there. He graduated
from Cornell University in 1969 and received a master’s degree in
business administration from the University of Denver in 1970.
Coors was the chairman and CEO of Coors Brewing Company before
he decided to enter the race. He has worked for the Coors Brewing
Company for many years and has served in a number of positions at
the company in finance, marketing, operations and administration.
He is now on an unpaid leave of absence. This is the first time he
is running for public office.
Q: In 1993 you were named vice chairman and CEO of Coors Brewing
Company. In 2002 you were named chairman. How do you think this
experience will help you become a better senator?
A: What I’ve done not just since I’ve been CEO but during my
career is to bring people together to solve problems. We’ve had to
deal with just about every kind of issue that would come up in the
U.S. Senate — from tax issues, to transportation issues, to energy
issues, agricultural issues and water issues. Dealing with those on
an operational level and understanding the compliance to federal
rules, regulations and guidelines as a given map would give me the
tools to be able to be effective when I go on to the U.S.
Q: Ken Salazar has experience in public office while this is the
first time you have run for public office. How do you feel about
Salazar’s record and the fact that you are a political novice?
A: I am a political novice from the standpoint of having run for
the first time for public office. But I have been very involved and
engaged in politics in one way or another, working with our
delegations to Washington on issues that we think are important to
the economy. So I’m not new to politics, I’m new to politicking.
Obviously my opponent has had two statewide elections to hone his
skills but I think this is a considerably different level of
campaigning for him as it is for me as well.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest obstacle our country
will have to face to win the war on terror?
A: The biggest obstacle to me is trying to convince the people
of this country that we have planted the seeds of freedom and that
25 million Iraqis have been freed from a very terrible situation
over there and that they are pleased (to be) free. But we are still
going to have an element in Iraq that’s going to cause problems. So
the news we get every day, (is) bombarded by the latest car bombing
or the latest beheading and that kind of thing, when in fact the
Iraqi people are very happy. We’re doing wonderful work over there
and I think that’s probably the biggest issue. We need to stay the
course. We’ve planted the seed and it’s going to take some time to
water it and we’re going to need to do some weeding. It’s just like
planting a garden. But I believe in Iraq. I hope it will happen
sooner rather than later, but when it’s able to defend itself and
protect itself both internally and externally then we’ll feel we’ve
done the right thing and we’ll bring our troops home and we’ll be
glad to have them back and congratulate them on the job they’ve
Q: Last Sunday, when you were on “Meet the Press,” you said you
would not execute Osama bin Laden if he was caught or captured.
A: No, that’s what Ken Salazar’s ad says. What I said is I’m
opposed to the death penalty. It’s a personal feeling of mine. But
I think making him suffer in prison and confined quarters for the
rest of his life, in my opinion, would be greater punishment than
sending him to whatever he thinks his heaven is and his God. But
you know we’re at war and he is killed in the process of finding
him and capturing him that’s a military activity and that would be
the way it is. If we captured him, what I said is that I believe
that executing him would be too swift of a punishment and too easy
Q: What will you do to create jobs and economic opportunity in
Colorado and throughout the United States?
A: The president and Congress’s tax cuts that were put in place
in 2003 are working to restore our economy. We need to stay the
course; this economy was declared to be in a recession. Six weeks
after President Bush took office this was an issue and this was
created by an extreme burst in growth in the United States. Towards
the end of the Clinton administration, he had six deficit budgets
and obviously improvement, but created a lot of surplus budgets
towards the end of his campaign and then handed over a recession to
George Bush. Clearly to me the tax cuts have had an effect, both on
the standpoint of providing more money for people to consume as
well as more money for investment. That’s what we need to stimulate
the economy and I believe that was the right course of action. The
most important thing we can do is to keep those tax cuts in place.
My opponent wants to raise taxes.
Q: 720,000 Coloradans last year went without health insurance.
What could you do for those people and what can you do to improve
our current health care system?
A: I have a comprehensive plan, a 10-point plan basically to
deal with all aspects of health care. Not any one of them will get
the job done but I’ll give you the flavor of a few that I think
will work. Number one, we need to reduce the number of frivolous
lawsuits that are being carried out, and it’s causing malpractice
insurance to go up and you and I are paying for it in our health
care and insurance plan. We need additional controls on the abuse
of our legal system. That is number one. Number two, we believe in
association health plans for small businesses, farmers, ranchers
and so forth to get together and negotiate collectively for lower
rates. That will help bring more people into affordable insurance
and get them insured. Third, I believe in individual health
insurance plans where individuals can. Right now if you’re working
for a company and they don’t provide health care for you, and you
have to buy your own health care, you have to pay after tax
dollars. I believe there should be incentives, including tax breaks
for people who are self-insured … we need to have courts in my
opinion taking the malpractice issues out of the regular courts and
putting them in a specialized court like we have bankruptcy court,
water court. We should have a health court to deal with those
issues. Those are just a few of the many things I think can be done
to help reduce our health care costs.
Q: Here at CSU tuition is rising and the cost of college is
increasing. What will you do to help higher education?
A: I’m in favor of Pell Grants, which are designed to help those
who can’t afford education or qualify for other kinds of aid. In
many respects this is a Colorado state problem rather than a
federal problem in my opinion and most of the things that can be
done need to be done at the state level. I’m not supporting putting
more of our control of education at any level, including higher
education in the hands of the federal government.
Q: You have said you would like to lower the drinking age in
Colorado to 18, correct?
Q: Well I wanted to clear this issue up.
A: Let’s clear it up. I said given the right legislation I
personally would vote for lowering the drinking age but what I said
is this is a state issue not a federal issue and I’m running for
the U.S. Senate not the Colorado Senate. It is not my agenda. I do
not intend to make it my agenda. The 21st Amendment gave the states
the right to regulate alcoholic beverages. That is where the issue
should be resolved and not on the floor of the U.S. Senate and I
don’t intend to do it on the floor of the U.S. Senate because it
would be inappropriate. It would be a violation of our
constitutional state’s right.
Q: How would you preserve the natural beauty of Colorado and
what is your general environmental policy?
A: We’re blessed here in Colorado with a wonderful and diverse
ecology, national forests, wilderness areas; we have a lot of
national lands. Those were all put in place for our enjoyment and
for not only for our enjoyment in terms of pleasure but for
enjoyment in terms of the use of resources. I believe that we have
the technologies now to use and utilize and develop those resources
without doing damage to the environment. I don’t consider myself an
extreme environmentalist; I consider myself a conservationist. I
believe (in) using good science and scientific research that is
based on good judgment and not on extremism to help us determine
how best to utilize the land we have and protect the precious
environment that we have.
Q: Going back to education, what is your policy and stance on
education? And what do you think about the No Child Left Behind
A: The whole premise of NCLB was to develop higher standards of
academic performance for students and then to identify those who
weren’t complying with those standards and weren’t attaining those
standards and to figure out ways to help those schools come up to
speed from a combination of whether it’s tutoring or whether it’s
changing the curriculum or whatever it might be. Then, ultimately
after three years of failing we open up the possibility for
students to go to a school that is performing at the levels that
we’ve set the standard that we think is appropriate. I believe the
educational system has been failing our kids. Early intervention in
this process, which NCLB is designed to do, is important and
ultimately we need to put money into the classrooms so we can teach
the kids and make sure that they are advancing from year to year at
a competency level that will allow them to be successful as they
move through the process.
Q: If you get elected, what would be the three things you would
try to implement and assess?
A: First thing I would do is work on tax policy. I would like to
initiate bills that would make some of the tax cuts permanent … I
would like the death tax to go away permanently. I’d like to
simplify the tax code in any way we can and one way we can do that
for instance is to eliminate the alternative minimum tax which
affects more and more middle-class Americans. It makes us fill out
taxes twice, which is nonproductive in my opinion. I would like to
work on security and intelligence of our country because I believe
it is our first line of defense and not only intelligence within
our country and trying to figure out how best to serve the safety
of people in the United States but also working with foreign
countries and their intelligence services so that we coordinate
what we’re doing and we share appropriate information with out
allies. When you go beyond that I’d like to work on ways of
figuring out how we can cut government and that doesn’t means you
have to cut programs. I think it’s a process of evaluating what
programs are working and what programs are not working and
realigning those dollars so they can be more productive and we can
save money and get the job done better for people of Colorado and
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I’ll tell you that I’d like to make it snow every night 12
inches, sunny every day and that will give us the water we need and
will also give us more recreation and I’d enjoy it and that would
be a great thing to do. If I was a U.S. senator, that’s probably
one of the first things I’d work on.