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Mike Coffman a quieter Tom Tancredo, Miklosi camp says of birther line

Categories: Politics

Thumbnail image for mike coffman small photo cropped.JPG
Mike Coffman.
Original item, 9:25 a.m. May 17: Mike Coffman reps the 6th Congressional District, a mega-safe Republican CD until last year, when its lines were redrawn. Is the seat now more competitive? This theory is being put to the test by Coffman comments about Barack Obama's citizenship status that offered red meat to Birther Nation even as they provided his Democratic opponent, Joe Miklosi, with an opportunity to hang him with the extremist tag he's managed to avoid to date.

The take in question broke on 9News last night. At a May 12 fundraiser in Elbert County hosted by fellow Representative Cory Gardner, 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."

The comments can be heard in context in the YouTube clip below.

Coffman promptly offered an I'm-sorry to 9News, saying in a statement, "I misspoke and I apologize. I have confidence in President Obama's citizenship and legitimacy as President of the United States." However, he added, "I don't believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism. His policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many equals. As a Marine, I believe America is unique and based on a core set of principles that make it superior to other nations."

This situation would likely have done no real damage to Coffman in the 6th as previously constituted. After all, his predecessor in the job was Tom Tancredo, who was a font of politically incorrect remarks but never paid the price at the ballot box; he won four times before deciding not to run for the office again, opening the way for Coffman.

Are things different now? Miklosi certainly hopes so, since he's been trying to paint Coffman as a divisive far-right figure. During an interview with yours truly in November, he described Coffman as "a do-nothing member of Congress. He's focused on Medicare destruction, comparing Social Security to a Ponzi scheme and pursuing a narrow, radical social agenda that doesn't reflect Colorado or our values. He serves on a small business committee where over 103 bills were introduced to help small businesses grow, and he didn't want to sponsor any of them. He'd rather spend his time on English-only ballots, not representing the district -- and he deserves to be fired."

Joanne Kron, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, visits this same theme. Via e-mail, she writes: "Extreme and divisive comments from Congressman Coffman are not unique to this one incident. He continues to pander to the far right and it's getting harder for him to backpedal. Coffman's redrawn district is much more diverse than the one that elected him and I expect him to see consequences in November."

Kron adds a list she describes as "other examples of his extremism." It includes:

• repeatedly called social security a Ponzi scheme
• supported "personhood" in the last election
• wanted to pull funding from Peace Corps teaching English in China
• supports English-only ballots
• supported Perry for president and Ryan for VP.

We've got an interview request in to Miklosi's campaign. When and if his reps respond, we'll update this post. In the meantime, here's Coffman's comments. The quote above is toward the end of the clip, beginning at about the 3:20 mark.

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Shmuck of the Week archive: "Mike Coffman, repeat Shmuck, wants to make it harder for Spanish speakers to vote."



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