We weren’t the first to ask the questions, but they’ve been simmering for awhile–why does the campaign of GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton feel the need to control access to her so tightly? Why is the starkly limited access to Norton by the media, when it occurs at all, so scripted? Why are surrogates like Josh Penry doing all the talking instead of Norton?
Today’s excellent feature story by the Denver Post’s Allison Sherry helps answer:
Welcome to the new Jane Norton campaign for U.S. Senate. Her edges are sharpened. She’s asking for money everywhere. And she takes every opportunity on even the smallest of stump stops to whack her chief GOP opponent.
It’s a Norton, observers say, acting like she is actually in the middle of a heated primary.
“She has needed to do a better job of presenting her own conservative credentials,” said former Gov. Bill Owens, a supporter…
Though she says she relishes the meet-and-greets, she is seemingly still getting on her feet.
On her Eastern Plains trip, she regularly turned to staff or prominent volunteers, such as former state Sen. Mark Hillman, to help her through questions from voters.
At the Wray coffee shop, Norton was asked why she was a better candidate than Buck.
“I’m true to conservative principles, and we need people who will have broader appeal,” she said, glancing at staffer Cinamon Watson, sitting at a table nearby. “Cinamon, what else?”
In a telephone town hall later that day, Norton crouched in a Burlington motel room and took questions from more than 2,000 people who listened in. After responding, she often asked Penry – who was on the line from Denver – whether he could add anything.
Folks, this is a very bad story for Jane Norton. As we said yesterday, these attacks on opponent Ken Buck as an “ole-boy insider” are absurd and eyebrow-raising hypocritical. But today’s story reveals more: possibly the most in-depth look at her campaign that voters have read so far, this is a portrait of a thoroughly vacuous candidate, relying on slogans and superficial impressions to win. The idea that a U.S. Senate candidate has to turn to staff to help articulate her appeal, having nothing but two completely meaningless–not to mention contradictory–jingles to offer herself when asked why she deserves support over Buck? And people wonder why Buck is erasing Norton’s lead in the latest polling?
This is what Norton’s handlers didn’t want the voters to see outside of small, friendly “Tea Party” groups she is trying desperately to win over, but there was no way to conceal it forever. We see growing parallels to the ’08 candidacy of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for vice president–so much anticipation and fear, but then they let her talk without a script.