As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, Democrats are ramping up their attacks on Colorado Republican candidates who supported the shutdown of the federal government last October–support that takes on added toxicity, even over the general unpopularity of the shutdown, due to the problems it caused for disaster relief in Colorado. As locals readers know, the GOP-engineered government shutdown came just days after our state was hit with massive flooding that required a large emergency federal response:
Colorado Democrats, who have already lambasted GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner for supporting his party’s government shutdown last fall just weeks after devastating floods, are now leveling the same charge at Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez.
The party released a new video Wednesday featuring images of last fall’s floods and audio of Beauprez saying on conservative talk radio at the time that he’s “been very, very proud” of his Republican colleagues in Washington, who voted to shutdown the government for 16 days — this, as federal disaster relief was being directed to Colorado flood victims — in a failed attempt to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“Politics before disaster relief,” reads the white text that appears over a black background on the screen.
“When thousands of Coloradans were ravaged by historic floods, Congressman Beauprez put Washington politics before the needs of the people of our state,” Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement.
The irate response from GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez, echoing the defensiveness from U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's campaign when confronted last week over this same issue, is plainly meant to emote past the real question:
“That the Colorado Democratic Party would politicize these devastating floods where people died and lives were destroyed is appalling. We have been very clear contrasting Bob Beauprez’s plan for a stronger Colorado with John Hickenlooper’s indecisive, weak leadership. That Hickenlooper’s operatives are slinging mud just for the fun of it is outrageous, and Coloradans should be appalled.”
In both Gardner and Beauprez's responses, you can see a lack of willingness to confront the underlying allegation: that Republicans who supported the shutdown abandoned their responsibility to represent Colorado in a time of great need, and left the state in the lurch in the wake of a major disaster simply to score meaningless political hits on President Barack Obama. The shutdown, as you'll recall, ended in abject failure for Republicans as the public solidly turned against them, and the "deal" House Republicans finally agreed to in order to reopen the government after over two weeks of shutdown was more of a capitulation. Republicans enjoyed a brief "I told you so" as the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange website suffered startup problems, but as Obamacare's prospects have stabilized and the law started finally delivering on its promise, the best the GOP could hope for was that voters would forget about the shutdown completely before the November 2014 elections.
In Colorado, because of the disaster that struck the state just before the shutdown, the situation for the local GOP is even worse. By the time the public nationwide turned against Republicans over the shutdown, Coloradans were already furious over reports that relief efforts were being delayed. Fearing a backlash, Colorado Republicans generally shifted their rhetoric against the shutdown more quickly than their colleagues elsewhere, but nothing they did was reported to have pushed GOP House leadership to resolve the situation any faster. Today, Cory Gardner claims he "never supported the shutdown," but that claim is entirely contradicted by his votes. Maybe Gardner gets it was a mistake now, but he can't admit he was part of it–all he can do is throw a fit when the subject comes up, and hope that fit deflects the hard questions he has never answered.
As for Bob Beauprez? Have you heard the lunatic stuff that's been coming out of his mouth since he lost in 2006? Compared to Beauprez's civil war rant, just as one example among many, this is actually pretty tame stuff. In a perfect world, we'd say the shutdown should be disqualifying for every Colorado politician on the wrong side–but it's not like everyone who backed the shutdown is just going to admit they failed the country and walk away.
But voters are watching. That's the part spin doctors can't control, and it's why they are so afraid of this story.