Mike Coffman a quieter Tom Tancredo, Miklosi camp says of birther line
Update: As we reported in our original coverage below, 6th Congressional District rep Mike Coffman made the wrong kind of news via audio of him questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States; hear it below. That's the kind of ammo prized by election opponents. And Joe Hamill, campaign manager for Joe Miklosi, who'll be facing off against Coffman in November, takes great pleasure in firing it.
Toward the end of his remarks at a May 12 fundraiser in Elbert County, Coffman said, "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American." He subsequently issued an apology, saying, "I misspoke" -- a popular excuse among politicians. But that's not good enough for Hamill.
"This is normally stuff you hear from Rush Limbaugh -- real far-right stuff," Hamill says. "I guess we're seeing Coffman's true colors -- when the cameras are off. And for a sitting member of Congress to undermine the presidency like that -- not just this president, but the office of the presidency -- is irresponsible and offensive. A guy like Coffman should seriously know better."
Miklosi, as well as progressive activists, have tried to paint Coffman as a fringe character for quite some time now, but the accusation hasn't stuck. Why not?
"I think up until this point, he's shown himself to be a pretty savvy politician," Hamill maintains. "He doesn't put himself out there very much. The thing that separates him from folks we know of as extreme is that they're louder than he is -- and he's been able to fly under the radar in a district that was safely his."
Indeed, the 6th has long been one of the most reliably Republican CDs in the state, as witnessed by the success of Coffman's predecessor, Tom Tancredo -- a politician who's never shied away from making controversial statements. Last year, however, the boundary lines were redrawn, and most observers, Hamill included, believe the results will be a much more competitive race.
Because of the new-look 6th's make-up, Coffman "is going to be the focus of a lot more questions," Hamill believes. "And throughout the campaign, people will be introduced to a new picture of Coffman -- a real picture of Coffman. If folks thought the extremism of Tancredo was gone, they'll find out he was really just replaced by a quieter version."
Hamill stresses that even before Coffman's comments broke, the Miklosi campaign "has been picking up speed. We are finding a ton of support from a bunch of folks, including our national friends" -- a reference to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's recent decision to include the race in "Red to Blue," a program that will bring with it added attention and funding. He believes the face-off is going to be a "really big bellwether in this country. And we think we'll have the ability to reintroduce Coffman to folks he hasn't represented before and hold him responsible for his record."
Page down to see our earlier coverage, and hear the Coffman recording.