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John McCain, Barack Obama on the great outdoors

October 27, 2008 | 12:45 pm


Outposts has reported that presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are not hunters or serious fishermen.

But both appear genuine when remarking, in the November issue of Backpacker magazine, on their fondness for hiking.

Obama: "I remember fondly my childhood visits to Yellowstone, and I would very much like to return there for some autumn hiking."

McCain: "I would want to take you to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, which I believe is among our nation’s best-hidden natural treasures."

So both appear to be sincerely appreciative of the great outdoors. That’s good.

Today the L.A. Times ran a story outlining the candidates’ energy agendas — McCain supporting more offshore drilling and nuclear power plants; Obama supporting renewable power sources, cleaner energy and eventual widespread use of hybrid cars.

Backpacker touched on this and other issues, including the candidates' comments on global warming, national parks and gun control within national parks.

On the importance of protecting and maintaining national parks in an age of daunting maintenance backlogs caused by a lack of funding, Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration for broken promises pertaining to parks funding.

McCain touted his role as lead sponsor of the National Parks Centennial Act, which "would have eliminated all national parks’ annual operating deficits."

When asked about whether a general ban on carrying loaded guns in national parks should be eliminated, the answers were sharply different and somewhat predictable.

McCain, who is against gun control, stated: "I believe the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service should remove their prohibitions against law-abiding citizens transporting and carrying firearms to lands managed by those agencies."

Obama, who is against assault weapons and a gun show loophole that allows trading of weapons between private individuals, stated: "I believe in Second Amendment rights and the rights of hunters and sportsmen to bear arms and use them in a responsible way. But I am concerned about allowing loaded firearms into family-oriented spaces."

Both claim to be against drilling within the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Both acknowledge global warming as a serious threat to the environment.

On a lighter note, a Backpacker reader poll determined McCain to be better equipped to handle himself in an outdoors emergency. Readers favored the Republican 71% to 29% when asked this question:

"McCain has broken his leg in the Grand Canyon; Obama is lost in the Smokies. Who survives?"

Must be McCain's war experience that swayed readers, because it certainly wasn't his age.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Barack Obama and John McCain have said they oppose drilling for oil in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of ANWR