Tancredo recounts GOP arm-twisting in U.S. House

September 4th, 2016

Earlier this year, former Rep. Tom Tancredo told KNUS 710-AM’s Peter Boyles the story of how Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert made it clear to fellow Republican Rep. Joel Hefly, during the 2003 House debate on Medicare Part D, that Hefley would lose his chairmanship of a subcomittee if he didn’t vote for the measure. Both Hefley and Tancredo represented Colorado districts at the time.

I offer up the transcript of Tancredo’s strange story for your weekend enjoyment.

TANCREDO: This was the worst day of my life:  sitting through a debate and then a vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill, Part D.  That was the worst day because, here we were, the Republican Party, a president–Republican president, and Republican Congress putting through the greatest increase in government since the creation of Medicare!  We were doing it, and we were all doing it because Bush wanted the electoral votes of the state of Florida.

BOYLES:  Yeah.

TANCREDO:  And we were spending $1 trillion bill.  This is a trillion dollars over ten years.

BOYLES:  Was that for brother [Jeb Bush], principally?

TANCREDO:  No, no!  He was – it was coming up!  He knew he was going to –.  No.  He was running again.  He wanted the electoral votes!

BOYLES:  No, but was that to help his brother, Jeb?

TANCREDO:  No. It was for the presidency.

BOYLES:  For him to get over. Okay.

TANCREDO:  Yes!  Absolutely.  This was – and you know, there was a hanging chad, there, situation, right?  But it was all Florida.  He needed Florida.  This was, you know, a very thin band of need, out there –the very few,  I mean, there was a – but, like, that many people that actually were too poor for Medicaid, too much for – but the expenses were high for the –.  So, we were going to do this for them, right?  All for Florida!   [inaudible] We had to stay there from 12 o’clock, the vote started – it’s supposed to be a 15 minute.  This is midnight!  Not 12 o’clock in the afternoon. We had been there since 9:00 debating it. They didn’t have the votes!  Didn’t have them, man! The Democrats had promised them they were going give them the votes to pass this thing, because you never bring a vote—a bill up that you don’t think you’re going to pass. It’s a big no-no.  So, the Democrats had promised them, because he couldn’t get Republican votes. But the Democrats took one look at the thing—at the counter, and said, “Hey! I think we can embarrass them pretty well!”  And all of a sudden, we didn’t have the votes.  Well, there we were – midnight. You’re supposed to have a 15 minute vote, Peter.  Fifteen minutes.  Sometimes, they push it to about 20 to get everybody in.  Six and one half hours – we’re still sitting there.   Six-thirty in the morning, people – I mean, I’m sleeping on –.  They’re putting buddies with you.  Anybody from your delegation who was for it had to come and bug you all six hours, until.  And my buddy was Bob Beauprez [laughing].  I kept telling Bob, “Hey, listen, buddy! Go to sleep!  I am going to go to sleep.  You’re never—I’m never going to vote for this.  Save your time!  Never, ever!”  But, polling people – all you could hear was arms being twisted and broken on the floor, right? — promising things.  I mean–.

BOYLES:  “Give me this, I’ll give you that.”

TANCREDO:  Oh, yeah!  And it was never like, — it was, “We know you’ve got a lot of stuff in the pipeline.  You’ve got that bridge.  And you know, we want to help you out.”

BOYLES:  “We’ll work with you!”

TANCREDO:  “We want to work with you.”  Right. It was the most horrible thing.  And I saw one of my best friends in Congress, a guy from Colorado – Joel Hefley.  He was like a 98–.

BOYLES:  [inaudible] I thought he was a good guy.

TANCREDO:  Oh, Joel was the best!  He was like a 98-percenter.  And we’re sitting there – 6:30 [a.m.] – nothing.  I mean, it’s 217.  You need 218, one more vote.  And they can’t get it!  Here comes the Speaker.  [gesturing with his hands, indicating a man walking down to the floor].  Doo, doo-doo, doo-doo,– down, comes, sits next to Joel.  I’m in back of them, going [gestures that he was eavesdropping]. You know, because everyone is – there’s quiet.  Everybody is, you know – you’re all on the floor.  They won’t let you leave.  So, but everyone can see what’s happening.  And then, the Speaker walks down, and he says, “Joel, we came in as Freshmen together, 22 years ago.”

BOYLES:  Wow.

TANCREDO:  Freshman class.  And Joel said, “Yes, sir, we did.”  And he said, “I’ve always enjoyed it, you’re such a great guy,” he said.  “And you’re the Chairman of the, uh—what was it?  It was the sub-committee on – oh! Armed Services.

BOYLES:  [inaudible] Yeah!

TANCREDO:  And he said, — because he was [from] Colorado Springs, you know –.

BOYLES:  Of course.  Of course.

TANCREDO:  And he said, uh, and he said, “You’re the head of the” – I think it was called – “the NATO Parliamentary Assembly” – it was kind of a hot-shot thing.  We got to travel all over.  He always asked us.  It was great fun!  Anyway, great guy, great guy.  “But I need you,” [the Speaker said to Joel Hefley].  “I never asked you before for anything, right?”  And Joel says, “No, sir.”  And he says, “Well, I need you.  This is it, buddy. I want it.”  And Joel says, “I can’t, Mr. Speaker.  I just can’t do it.”   And he goes, “You enjoy being that Chairman, right?” –and all that.  And he says, “You want to be [Chairman] tomorrow?”

BOYLES:  Yeah.

TANCREDO:  This – this—this—this is his buddy! This is his pal!  And he goes back and sits down.  And I leaned over and I said, “Did I just hear him threaten you with your Chairmanship?”

BOYLES:  Yeah.  Yeah.

TANCREDO:  Joel just looks ahead, right?  Doesn’t say a word.  We wait.  We wait, it’s quiet.  There’s nothing.  All of a sudden, he gets up, votes,– walks down.  Oh, my God!  I literally – and I’m not kidding you, I almost threw up!  I mean, I got – we had been there all night.  It was very emotional.  There was a lot of crap going on.  And now, here’s my best – oh, my God!  And he walks down,  and he would have to pick up the green thing and go, and hand it to the girl.  And she goes, “REPRESENTATIVE HEFLEY:  OFF “NO”!  ON “AYE!”  And they – and the hammer goes down. Boom!  Two-hundred and eighteen.  It passed.  You know, he never was the same after that. He stayed another term but, you know, he got shingles.

BOYLES:  Oh, no, he went through all kinds of stuff.

TANCREDO:  Oh, my God!   And it’s an emotional – shingles is an emotional – I think there’s some component there, right?    Up here, and down into his throat – it damn near killed him.

BOYLES:  Yeah.  Yeah.

TANCREDO:  And then he quit, and it was the most horrible –.  That was the worst day of my political life.

How Trump infects Colorado

September 1st, 2016

Reyher Facebook Post on Electric FenceIf Reporters want a local window into where Donald Trump is aiming with his speech last night, they should connect with Otero County Republican Chair Judy Rydberg Reyher, who apparently posted this meme on her Facebook page this week.

“Why build a Wall? A bad ass electric fence would be way more entertaining,” reads the text.

Ryher’s comment: “Yes it would. And those of us who know have been hit by one know exactly what it looks like, dance and all.”

Why would an elected GOP official post this? Maybe her next meme will be titled, “Why build a Republican Party?” Because she’s trashing her own folks–not just immigrants. You see this and say to yourself, how will Republicans ever lift their party out of the margins?

But the bigger problem for Republicans isn’t Reyher in deep red Otero County. It’s of course the Trump infection that runs down the ballot, to folks like Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who promises to vote for Trump and says former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is “spot on” after Palin raves about Trump.

And to Arvada Republican Laura Woods, who calls Trump the “people’s candidate” and is aligned with Trump in not wanting to grant citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.

Doty and Woods are battling Democrats Daniel Kagan and Rachel Zenzinger, respectively, in two of the most important under-the-radar state senate races in memory. At stake is control of state government.

And, for Democrats, there’s a line stretching from Trump to Arapahoe County and Arvada. That’s the story, from Colorado’s perspective, that comes from Trump’s speech last night.

And, if there was any doubt yesterday, does anyone now think the story won’t repeat itself after Trump’s next appearance?

Coffman tried and failed with the same immigration attacks last election

August 31st, 2016

Reporters shouldn’t be fooled by Rep. Mike Coffman’s recycled attempts to paint his Democratic challanger Morgan Carroll as anti-immigrant. Coffman tried the same tactic in 2014 and failed.

The point needs to be made in light of the Coffman’s campaign tweet last week that Carroll “supported Tancredo’s immigration crackdown in the 2006 special session.”

Coffman tried to attack Coffman’s 2014 challenger Andrew Romanoff in the same way, and it failed, as exemplified in this Denver Post piece from a couple years ago.

During the summer of 2006, in his first term as state House speaker, Romanoff faced a critical decision: Have a broadly worded initiative appear on the November ballot that would strip state benefits and even some medical services from those in the country illegally — including children — or strike a legislative compromise.

He choose the latter option and staved off a late effort to revive the ballot initiative by spearheading a bill that pleased some hardliners and upset some in the Latino community…

Among the proponents of the ballot initiative that didn’t make it to voters was Coffman, the state treasurer at the time.

With Romanoff in 2006 was Carroll–and Republicans like the Gov. Bill Owens. With Coffman in 2006 was Tancredo. (Read more of this history here.)

The Post’s article from the last election goes on to explain that Coffman opposed (and continues to oppose) a 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, passed by the U.S. Senate. Carroll supports this measure, including its path to citizenship. (In addition to this, Coffman is opposed to birthright citizenship, which allows children of undocumented immigrants born on U.S. soil to be citizens. Coffman is also against a provision in the Voting Rights Act that requires some jurisdictions to provide dual-language ballots.)

Coffman’s campaign acts as if Carroll’s 2006 stance and 2009 vote against in-state tuition for undocumented students are somehow equivalent to or worse than Coffman’s vast anti-immigrant record–despite the context of the 2006 special session and the fact that Carroll was a cosponsor of the ASSET bill when it passed in 2013. Carroll passed the ASSET bill.

Bottom line: Reporters saw through Coffman’s attacks against Romanoff on immigration in 2014. They shouldn’t be fooled by Coffman this time around either.

 

 

 

Glenn’s baseless attack on The Denver Post

August 29th, 2016

The days when journalists wouldn’t respond to officials who insult them, lie about them, degrade them, or otherwise slam their professionalism are fading.

Case in point: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryll Glenn’s ridiculous attacks on The Denver Post.

Glenn said last week he would no longer talk to The Post, explaining on KFKA radio that the newspaper had called him a “liar” and journalists there had become “advocates,” which he finds “totally unacceptable.”

Rather than ignore the unsupportable attack, The Post’s Joey Bunch responded on Twitter:

Bunch: I applied facts to his words until he, not I, said his words were not correct.” [here]

The Post’s John Frank then reported over the weekend:

Glenn did not explain why he is blacklisting Colorado’s largest newspaper, but in an interview Thursday with KFKA talk radio, he appeared to link his decision to the Post’s coverage of his conflicting explanations of a 1983 charge for third-degree assault, which was later dropped…

The coverage of the incident did not call him “a liar.” A campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions Friday…

Glenn’s decision — which drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats — and other missteps are disturbing to GOP strategists in Colorado, but many still hope he can regain his footing.

The correction of Glenn is good, but I’d like to see journalist call out officials whenever they attack the press, even if they do so in sweeping terms, like leveling bogus accusations of “liberal media bias.”

This year, GOP Senate President Bill Cadman did so and slid by. U.S. Senator Cory Gardner did it a few times in recent years, with no response from the media.

Glenn also appears to have had a Mike-Coffman moment, when he repeated the same line over and over. Local reporters have been good at spotlighting this behavior. (See this video.)

“My press secretary back there will handle all Denver Post questions,” Glenn told Frank four times when questioned.

You recall, Coffman infamously wondered in 2012 whether Obama is an American, and then he offer a sedcripted and unapologitic apology to 9News Kyle Clark five times in a row.

Republican candidate’s Facebook meme: “Hillary Meal Deal, 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts, and a bunch of left wings.”

August 26th, 2016

Garcia Hillary Meal Deal 2I called Raymond Garcia, a Republican candidate for Colorado state house, after I saw a couple memes he posted for his Facebook friends.

One depicts an image of Hillary Clinton on a bucket of “HRC” Kentucky Fried Chicken with the text, “Hillary Meal Deal, 3 fat thighs, 2 small breasts, and a bunch of left wings.” (“Crispy Commie Recipe.”)

The other was a anti-Hillary version of an anti-Trump statue.

Asked if he’s worried that these posts, which were obtained from a source, might offend people, the House District 1 candidate said:

Garcia: “I can’t help it if somebody gets offended. If they get offended, that’s their deal.”

Delta County Colorado GOP chair Linda Sorenson offered a similar response when asked if her Facebook post, comparing Obama to a Chimp, was a joke. A subsequent outrcry led to her resignation.

Garcia, who hopes to unseat Democrat Susan Lontine in the Southwest Denver district, said he posted the memes “in response to a post that somebody else has put up against Trump.”

“So it’s the exact same thing, but it’s been converted over so it criticizes Hillary instead of criticizing Trump,” Garcia said. “It’s just in response to the posts that I’ve been seeing criticizing Trump.”

I saw the Trump statue he’s referring to, but I can’t find a similar meme about a Trump meal deal. The “Meal Deal” meme has been around since at least 2008, when it was labeled “truly horrible” by a New York Magazine writer.

In any case, whether similar memes exist, I can’t find either Hillary meme posted on Facebook by a candidate seeking a state office.

I  asked if Garcia’s intent was to joke.

“Yeah, just like they did,” he replied.

After I spoke with Garcia Wednesday, he added another post on Facebook, with the text, “I Gave Her 32 Million Dollars Because She Reminds Me of My Favorite Goat.” (See below.)

Garcia Hillary Goat Meme

 

 

Garcia Trump Hillary

Buck called Trump a “fraud” but now says will vote for him

August 25th, 2016

After once calling Donald Trump a “fraud,” and then remaining silent on the GOP presidential nominee for months, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck has now thrown his endorsment to the celebrity mogul.

“What we have to do as Republicans, in my view, is we got to get Donald Trump elected, and then we got to hold him accountable,” Buck told Randy Corporon and Steve Kelly on KNUS yesterday afternoon. “We got to surround him with good, sensible people who will give him the best advice on how to move this country forward.”

Earlier this year, however, Buck slammed Trump, after Trump proposed a temporary ban on allowing Muslims to visit the United States. Buck told CBS 4:

“Trump’s proposal violates the Constitution, the values of our nation, the Republican Party platform, and my conscience. He should withdraw from the Presidential race. He is a fraud,” said Buck.

Yesterday, Buck sang a different tune, pointing out that “we have a system of checks and balances in this country which allows Congress and the Supreme Court to rein in the power of the president,” and that’s what Congress may have to do with “either president.”

If Trump doesn’t behave, “there are remedies,” said Buck, calling Buck a “strong person” who has “never been tested in office.”

“We have an unknown entity that we are going to be taking a risk on,” Buck said, adding that Hillary is “known entity” that he wants to reject. “I don’t think anybody can argue that Donald Trump isn’t an unknown quantity, to a cerntain extent.”

“There is one thing I know for sure,” Buck said on KNUS, in what appears to be Buck’s first public endorsement of Trump.  “If I call the White House, and President Clinton is in the oval office, no one is going to take my call. If I call the White House with a President Trump, I have a chance of influencing policy in the executive branch.”

Listen to U.S. Rep. Ken Buck on KNUS Aug. 24

Does Doty’s enthusiasm for Palin have anything to do with her backwards worldview?

August 24th, 2016

Doty upside down EarthI’ve been trying to convince journalists to find out why state senate candidate Nancy Doty thinks Sarah Palin gave a “Spot on” speech in Denver, in which the former Alaska governor raved about Donald Trump. (Here’s a funny video to emphasize the point.)

From where I sit as a progressive, the world is pretty backwards if you think Palin is “spot on.”

And it turns out, judging from the recent Doty advertisement on your right, that’s exactly how Doty sees the Earth–transposed, ass backwards, if you will.

So, does the inverted worldview on Doty’s mailer have anything to do with her enthusiasm about Palin and Trump?

Or is Doty’s backwards Earth related to the ability of kids to “count on NANCY DOTY” for a “WORLD CLASS” education?

I doubt it, to be honest, but she’s yet to be questioned about Palin, so we don’t know. And if there’s one thing you learn as a journalist, it’s that you never know what someone will say until you ask them.

Doty’s Arapaho County race against State Rep. Daniel Kagan is key, along with an Arvada state senate contest, in the GOP’s struggle to maintain their one-seat majority in the senate chamber and thereby block Democrats’ hopes of controlling state government next year.

Tancredo says he’d vote for Morgan Carroll but later changes his mind

August 23rd, 2016

At this point, nothing about Tom Tancredo should surprise me, but my jaw bounced off the floor when he said Saturday he’d vote for state Sen. Morgan Carroll over U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.

After Tancredo lashed into Coffman for caring about nothing except staying in office, KNUS’ Saturday host Craig Silverman asked Tancredo if he’d vote for Carroll over Coffman, if Tanc lived in Aurora where the Coffman and Carroll are battling each other in one of the closest congressional races in the country.

And Tancredo, whose Congressional seat was won by Coffman (with Tanc’s support) after Tancredo stepped down, said he’d vote for the Democrat.

Silverman: Former Congressman Tom Tancredo says, ‘Vote for Morgan Carroll over Mike Coffman.’ Do I have it right?

Tancredo: You got it right.

But, I told Tancredo in a subsequent phone call, Coffman is much more hostile to immigrants than Carroll.

Coffman opposed a 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, which included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Coffman still stands against the measure. Coffman is opposed to birthright citizenship, which allows children of undocumented immigrants born on U.S. soil to be citizens. Coffman is also against a provision in the Voting Rights Act that requires some jurisdictions to provide dual-language ballots.

I told Tancredo I couldn’t see how he’d favor Morgan Carroll, who, for example, has attacked Coffman for opposing the bipartisan immigration bill, and she supports a path to citizenship.

But didn’t Carroll vote against the “Dream Act” in Colorado, Tancredo asked, reminding me that he’d referenced this on the radio, when he said, “Who knows, we may have something better [with Carroll].”

I told Coffman that Carroll had initially voted against providing in-state tuition for undocumented students in Colorado, but she later joined state lawmakers in passing the measure.

So, today, even with Coffman’s shifts on immigration, Coffman is much more in Tancredo’s immigration camp than Carroll, who’s now as immigrant-friendly as they get, I told Tancredo.

“With that in mind,” Tancredo said after hearing this, “I guess I’d write somebody else in. That would probably be my fallback position.”

So Tancredo changed his mind. He wouldn’t vote for Carroll.

“My point is this, more than anything else,” said Tancredo. “… I am absolutely convinced that [Coffman] is a fraud. If Trump were [running] even in the district, or if [Trump] were ahead, I know that Mike Coffman would be putting ads on TV talking about how wonderful Trump is.”

But does Tancredo think Coffman is sincere about his past and present opposition to the comprehensive immigration bill that Carroll supports?

“No. I don’t think there’s anything sincere about Mike Coffman,” said Tancredo, whom Coffman once called his “hero.” “Nothing that I have observed over the last several years would lead me to that conclusion, except his sincere desire to remain in Congress. So I guess I would say that’s a caveat there.”

How many conservatives can Coffman piss off before he loses an election?

August 22nd, 2016

A couple weeks ago, former Rep. Tom Tancredo skewered Rep. Mike Coffman in his weekly Breitbart column, writing thet the “only thing authentic about [Coffman] is his passionate desire to keep that House Member pin on his lapel.”

In a subsequent KNUS radio interview with guest host Matt Dunn, Tancredo said, “as a conservative, we would lose nothing” if Coffman lost his seat. And Tanc went further:

Tancredo: [W]hen he won the election, I was of course a supporter and was happy about the fact that he would be succeeding me in that office because of what he promised me, because of our discussions about the issues, especially immigration. And of course all those things have gone by the wayside, and done so because he feels that he has to give up those principles — if he ever held them. I don’t know if he has any real set of principles upon which — you know, that certain bedrock – I don’t know that they exist at all…As his district changes, so does he. He sort of morphs into a different person.

…I’ll tell you this: if Trump were polling well in his district, you would be hearing nothing but accolades from Mike Coffman about Donald Trump. So, it isn’t – it doesn’t really have anything to do with Trump’s positions, his faux pas, his – whatever. It’s got nothing to do with that. It’s got everything to do with Mike wanting to keep that little pin on his collar – I mean, on his lapel, on his suit, that indicates you’re a Member of Congress. Because that’s more important to him than anything else. And I’m just sick of this stuff! I’m sick of it because it’s a seat we could still retain by somebody better. And you know, you just think to yourself, “What a — what a waste!” [Aug. 11, KNUS Peter Boyles show]

Keep in mind that Coffman once called Tancredo his “hero.

Tancredo’s comments deserve wider media attention because they raise the question, again, of how many conservatives Coffman can piss off and still win a narrow majority in his district.

Harber to produce weekly TV interview shows on election topics

August 19th, 2016

Denver television fixture Aaron Harber will again produce an extensive series of TV interview shows, called Your Decision 2016, focusing on Colorado election races, ballot initiatives, and related issues beginning no later than Sept. 25 and ending Nov. 6.

“The majority of voters really start paying attention after Labor Day, so our focus is to try to make people aware of this over the course of the next four or five weeks and then start the programming,” said Harber. “Our goal is not just to provide the programming as a public service. Our goal is to reach thousands of voters, so they have a place to go for fact-based and mutually respectful and civil discussion, which seems to be in short order in the political world today.”

Harber will soon begin solidifying topics for 14-to-18 half-hour shows. He aims to cover not only the major races and state-wide ballot initiatives but also key down-ballot state legislative races, such as state senate contests that could determine whether Democrats take control of Colorado government.

Harber plans shows on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and the Aurora Congressional race (U.S. House District 6) between U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger State Sen. Morgan Carroll.

At least two shows will be offered each week. They will air on KCDO-TV Channel 3, Saturdays at 9 to 9:30 p.m. for one show and Saturdays 9:30 to 10 p.m. for another show. (The two shows will be air again on KCDO from 11 a.m Sundays to 12 a.m. and later on Sundays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) The two programs will also be broadcast on COMCAST Entertainment Television Mondays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (with repeat shows during the week on COMCAST and on ION Television), and the two shows will also be downloadable on COMCAST XFINITY ON DEMAND service).

The different venues offer “voters lots of chances to see the programs,” says Harber.

“With these six prime-time spots, we really want to take advantage of the opportunity to be on the air when a lot of people are watching television,” said Harber.

Harber’s show joins other Denver TV candidate-interview shows that have made a demonstrable impact on Colorado politics in recent years: 9News’ Balance of Power and 7News’ Politics Unplugged. Unfortunately, Fox 31 Denver dropped its interview program when longtime political reporter Eli Stokols left the station for a job at Politico.

There’s also the Get More Smarter Show, hosted by progressives Jason Bane and Alan Franklin, and Devil’s Advocate, “moderated” by Jon Caldara of the right-leaning Independence Institute. (Caldara’s show broke news last month when U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn backtracked on his previous pledge to ban all abortion, even for rape.)

In 2014, Harber’s election shows were rolled out in partnership with The Denver Post. Harber has a regular public-affairs TV program as well as the focused election programming.