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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jim Hansen says Hill Air Force Base is in danger of being clobbered in the next round of base closures -- and that he's just the fellow to keep it from happening.
"If you think all is well with Hill Air Force Base, you're in a fool's paradise," Hansen told the Ogden Exchange Club. "I say this to be an alarmist. Hang on to your hats because you've got a rough ride coming up.
"If you lose Hill Air Force Base, I'm moving out of the state, because everyone thinks I can save it," the former 11-term congressman said Tuesday. "Losing Hill would put Utah into a depression, not a recession. A recent study said that if Hill closes, 25,000 homes would suddenly be available."
Hansen said the governor's job would give him the clout he needs to fight for Hill.
"I'm being considered as a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) commissioner, and I'm also running for governor," Hansen said. "As Utah's governor, I would have more of a voice and could be more of a defender for the base."
Hansen said sees lack of political clout is the Achilles' heel for the local base.
"Dick Cheney runs the military, along with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld. They don't care about how many stars someone has on their shoulders. Past generals won't help you a tinker's dam," Hansen said.
Hansen said that Hill is one of eight depots under scrutiny as potential places to trim budgetary fat.
Democrat Scott Matheson Jr., who also is seeking the governor's job, said the base is a major component of the state's economy, and "We have to pursue all reasonable efforts to preserve it.
"We have consensus among local, state and congressional leaders that this is a priority for the state of Utah, and I'm committed to that," he said. "If I have the opportunity to serve the state, I will be a zealous advocate on this matter."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)