September 19, 2012. Retrieved online September 20, 2012 from Diana Alba Soular, Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES — Retired U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici said Wednesday he’s concerned about certain knowledge he feels is lacking among New Mexico’s populace.
“Our people are going to have to understand free enterprise and entrepreneurship,” said the long-time Republican senator, addressing a crowd in Las Cruces.
Indeed, the lineup of speakers at the fifth annual Pete Domenici Public policy conference was themed around those very topics.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Linda Alvarado, part of the Colorado Rockies baseball franchise ownership group, were among the featured speakers.
The conference continues today and showcases James Carville, who aided President Bill Clinton’s campaign, and Karen Hughes, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, who’ll talk about the upcoming election. Also, the two candidates for a U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico — Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Martin Heinrich — are slated to present.
Domenici, who retired from the Senate in early 2009 because of health problems, said he was pleased with this year’s lineup of conference speakers. He said he’d originally proposed dedicating the event to Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who served alongside him for many years representing New Mexico. But he said Bingaman, who’s also retiring, declined.
Instead, Bingaman sent a video-recorded message. In the message, Bingaman highlighted his collaboration with Domenici on national energy reform bills of 2005 and 2007. He said neither was “easy,” and they required bipartisan “creativity and compromise.”
Domenici, an expert during his Senate tenure on the nation’s budget, repeated concerns he’s long expressed publicly about the future of the nation. He said a solution is needed.
“The country truly is on the borderline of falling apart fiscally,” he told conference attendees.
NMSU President Barbara Couture said the conference is a boon because it gives local residents a chance to hear from policy experts directly.
Garrey Carruthers, NMSU business college dean and director of the Domenici Policy Institute, told attendees that a space in what’s now the Hershel Zohn Theatre on the main campus will be renovated to house the institute. The performing arts that now are housed there will be moved to a recently built arts building on University Avenue, he said.
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