When Republicans downplay the importance of women’s issues, reporters should provide historical perspective

On Friday, the Durango Herald ran an article on newly-minted CO Republican Senate candidates, state legislators Owen Hill and Randy Baumgardner.

The Herald reported that Hill has taken strong anti-choice stands in the past. (Opponents say he supported de-funding Planned Parenthood in Colorado.) And Baumgardner “pitched an Arizona-style immigration law for Colorado two years ago when he was in the House.”

The Herald’s Paige Jones reported that Owen Loftus, a spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party, “downplayed the candidates’ proposals on abortion and immigration – both of which quickly failed – and said voters make their decision based on a range of issues.”

“People in Colorado don’t vote on just two issues. They vote on the whole package,” he said.

Maybe they don’t vote on just two issues, but Jones should have asked Loftus how he could possibly downplay the importance of women’s issues, like abortion, and immigration after Loftus’ deflating experience as spokesman for Ken Buck’s failed Senatorial campaign in 2010.

Buck was poised to win his race, you recall, and before the 2010 election, Republicans like Loftus were saying the same thing about itsy-bitsy women’s issues: they don’t matter. And look what happened to Buck.

At the time, as Buck was attacked as an anti-abortion extremist, Buck campaign consultant Walt Klein told The Denver Post:

“If they think they can make Michael Bennet a more appealing incumbent by going on and on about abortion, then fire away. But all the polling data show economy, jobs and unemployment is pushing all the other issues to the bottom of the chart.”

Responding to a news story about a college student who was angry at Buck for telling reporters that the student would be accused of having “buyer’s remorse” if her rape case went to trial, Loftus told The Denver Post: When it comes to women and men, they’re worried about jobs. … That’s what everyone cares about. Voters understand this is a machine set up to smear Ken Buck, and they aren’t buying it.”

As everyone now knows, Loftus was wrong then, he’s wrong again, and reporters should press him on why he continues to say the same lines even though he’s had a two-bit role in the history that proves him wrong. Loftus did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Three days after 2010 election, Buck himself told The Denver Post:

“My effort was to focus on spending and unemployment, and they wanted to talk about anything but,” Buck said. “It was part of their effort to focus more on their version of Ken Buck rather than the issues that I thought most voters were concerned about. I don’t know that there’s any way to avoid it; I wasn’t going to derail my message to have an election decided on abortion, or any social issue, for that matter.”

The Post’s Michael Booth did readers a favor by following up Buck’s quote with this:

The irony is, of course, that the election may have been decided on precisely those issues, with even Republican analysts saying the Democratic strategy hurt Buck among independent women in Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. The final margin with Bennet was fewer than 20,000 votes, out of 1.5 million cast.

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