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Rockefeller to seek 5th term in U.S. Senate

January 21, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Saying more needs to be done to help the environment, examine the U.S. government and help veterans who are being "shredded inside" from combat, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced his re-election bid Sunday afternoon at Shepherd University.

Rockefeller, 70, made the announcement with his wife, Sharon, their children and grandchildren at his side.

This was Rockefeller's fourth re-election announcement over the weekend. He also made an announcement Friday night in Beckley, W.Va., and on Saturday in Charleston, W.Va., and Fairmont, W.Va., according to a staff member.

About 220 people responded to invitations to hear Rockefeller announce his candidacy for a fifth, six-year term at 2:15 p.m. in the Storer Ballroom at Shepherd's student center.

Rockefeller said Sunday that he has not changed the way he thinks. And - like he does at many events - he reflected on when he came to West Virginia in 1964 as a volunteer for VISTA, a national program that fights poverty.

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Rockefeller remembered the "wonderful people" in southern West Virginia who fed him three times a day but did not have any medical care and their children were not offered an education because they lived too far off a hard road.

Rockefeller said the situation "sunk deep inside me" and he realized he needed to have meaning in his life.

Today, Rockefeller is pushing for the country to look for alternatives to energy, like those that could be harnessed from coal. He cited the country's large contribution to pollution as an incentive to act.

"We've got to do it very fast because we don't have a lot of time," Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller is praised by some for his concern of the health of combat veterans and on Sunday, Rockefeller said more needs to be done to help veterans suffering from combat complications like traumatic brain injury.

"It used to be, 'take a pill, go home and rest young man.' It doesn't happen that way anymore," said Rockefeller, adding that veterans are sometimes left "shredded inside" from their combat experiences.

In fact, Rockefeller said he wants to see closer examination of how all U.S. government is operating. And if it means somebody is embarrassed or fired, "so be it," Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller has opposed the war in Iraq. While some people worry about America engaging in more war, Rockefeller said the country couldn't do it because military operations are stretched too thin.

While the country was left with a surplus when former President Clinton left office, now there is a $9 trillion debt and "we really have no money," Rockefeller said.

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd was scheduled to speak at the event, but could not due to harsh temperatures, said Anne Smith, Byrd's state director.

But Smith read a letter from Byrd in which the senator praised Rockefeller for his work behind the scenes - "and away from the cameras" - to assess the needs of veterans.

"He is not a show horse. He is a workhorse," Byrd said in his letter.

No one has filed to run against Rockefeller, according to the state Secretary of State's Web site.

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