Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Redford To Democrats: Show Backbone

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2006(AP)
The Sundance Kid gathered up the nerve to jump off a cliff with Butch Cassidy. Now, he wants Democrats to show similar backbone.

"Democrats need to regain the courage that's lost with political compromises over the last few years," actor and environmental activist Robert Redford said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. "They've got to get it together. If they don't, it will not only be a tragedy for them, but a tragedy for the country."

The Oscar-winning director was in Washington to discuss energy policy with the liberal group Campaign for America's Future and to present an award to Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, for his work on energy independence.

Redford addressed the group after Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada made a pitch for using less gasoline and taking global warming seriously. On energy, the actor said the first step is to acknowledge there is a crisis.

"It's hitting a tipping point, but so are the opportunities for solutions," Redford told the group.

Redford said efforts to talk with the Bush administration about energy policy is a waste of time. "Things will really improve when they're out of there, so the next elections are going to be very important," Redford said.

The actor, who turns 70 in August, has starred in numerous films, including "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Way We Were," "Out of Africa," and "All the President's Men." He won an Academy Award in 1980 for his direction of "Ordinary People."

Redford argued that Democrats who take a strong stand are often tarred as radicals, but they're just being reasonable.

"Republicans are not about substance, they're about strategy, and they're good at it," he said. "Democrats could learn a lot from the Republicans about strategy."

Redford, who also starred in "The Candidate," laughed when asked whether he's ever considered running for office. "If you saw that movie, you'd know that I would never enter that field."

During his speech to the Democrats, Redford recalled giving a passionate speech years ago about his political views, leaving the crowd silent. As he departed, someone in the crowd came up to him and asked: "Mr. Redford, did they make you jump off the cliff in Butch Cassidy?"

The crowd on Monday laughed loudly.