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Pearce Defends Ad; Calls Udall Extremists' Ally

By Jeff Jones
Journal Politics Writer
      Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Pearce invoked images of violent, Vietnam-era civil unrest on Wednesday while plugging a new campaign ad that paints Democrat Tom Udall as an ally of left-wing environmentalists.
       The Udall camp called Pearce's comments “irresponsible, reprehensible” and “out of touch.”
       Pearce, during a news conference at his Albuquerque campaign headquarters, repeatedly charged that Udall sides with “extremists” on environmental issues, including new energy drilling. And he told a story about his college days, standing watch on a wall in 1969 at New Mexico State University where radicals were planning to burn down a building.
       “This picture is a picture from my past,” Pearce said, referring to a photo of a pair of hippies in his Wednesday newspaper ad that maintains Udall is allied with “hysterical left-wing” environmentalists — an ad the Udall campaign calls bogus.
       “In 1969, I was the president of the student body at New Mexico State University, and the radicals were going to burn down the administration building — as they had done across the country,” Pearce said. “I took it on myself to go out and stand on the wall where (a) guy was actually wrapping the crowd into an enthusiasm to go burn the building, because at that time, I felt like these extremists had hijacked our policies, and they were controlling our universities. And we're finding the same thing today. The extremists have hijacked our policies, so that we can't live.”
       Asked by a reporter whether he was charging that Udall stands with the kinds of people who once wanted to raze college buildings, Pearce, who went on to be an Air Force pilot in Vietnam, responded:
       “There's a counterculture that was epitomized by the hippies. They were against the war. They were against America. It was always that criminals have more rights than the victim. That America's enemies have more rights. And what I'm saying is, that push from the past is still being carried forward. The counterculture is the same today. And it's people who think America is wrong. I don't think America is wrong. I don't think American jobs are wrong. I don't think the American economy is wrong. And so that's the distinction that I see between Tom Udall and myself.