Yes, Bennet’s Keystone XL Triangulation Is Stupid

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet

This week, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This legislation would have short-circuited an ongoing State Department review of the project, and trumped court proceedings in the state of Nebraska over the legality of eminent domain takings to build the route. Obama had repeatedly threatened to veto the bill, and the administration has become increasingly ambivalent about the Keystone XL project overall as global oil prices have plummeted, domestic oil production has surged, and grassroots opponents have waged a highly effective publicity campaign.

As we've discussed in this space many times, the case to build Keystone XL, even years ago when these intervening pressures weren't yet a factor, has been consistently overhyped by its proponents. Last year, Cory Gardner insisted on the campaign trail that Keystone would result in "thousands of Colorado jobs," a number that was inflated somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%. The truth is, Keystone XL won't enter the state of Colorado, won't produce a significant number of jobs in our state, won't produce more than a few dozen permanent jobs anywhere once the pipeline is built, and will result in an increase in local gas prices due to the routing of Canadian oil supplies to Gulf Coast export terminals. Even ardently pro-oil Gov. John Hickenlooper agrees with Obama's decision to veto the bill.

With these facts once again established for the record, 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports:

They come from different political parties, but Colorado's US Senators both voted for legislation to authorize building of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner both also confirm to 9NEWS they will vote for a veto override, which is being planned by majority leader Mitch McConnell.

That Sen. Michael Bennet planned to vote for the Keystone XL pipeline was never in question. He's voted for it before, including late last year during ex-Sen. Mary Landrieu's desperate attempt to get Keystone XL passed during her runoff election campaign. Bennet says he thinks Keystone should be "part of a bigger solution" to climate change, a statement that we'll admit makes very little sense to us.

But voting to override the President's veto makes even less sense. Politically, this doesn't win Bennet any supporters who would actually support him against a viable Republican. But worse, Bennet's unapologetic thumbing of his nose at Keystone XL opponents further drives an emerging wedge within the Democratic coalition in Colorado. Even if he got a green light from the White House to vote this way since the override has no real chance of succeeding, this is insult added to injury for Bennet's Democratic base–and has no political upside that we can see.

Though assailed by the GOP as a monolithic party of anti-energy environmentalists, the uneasy truce among Colorado Democrats over support for the oil and gas industry is in fact extremely fragile. Too many Democrats at high levels have convinced themselves that they can openly triangulate on the issue, and keep the Democratic coalition that has mostly dominated elections in this state since 2004 together.

Our response, delivered with increasing urgency: there's a limit.

Senate Close to DHS Budget Deal; Republicans are Screwed

kenbuckonthebutton

Republican Rep. Ken Buck is probably a little less enthusiastic about pressing these buttons this week.

As Politico reports:

The Senate is moving quickly to break a weekslong impasse that has threatened funding for the Department of Homeland Security and paralyzed the Capitol, putting pressure on House Speaker John Boehner on the brink of a shutdown of the national security agency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday afternoon that they would move forward on a “clean” $39.7 billion DHS-funding bill — free of provisions targeting President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. McConnell agreed to relent after Reid’s caucus filibustered a House-passed bill on four separate occasions, demanding that Republicans strip the immigration provisions or risk a shutdown of the department.

The Senate voted 98-2 to open debate on the House bill, setting the stage for a last-ditch scramble for Congress to act before DHS funding expires on Friday.

Politically-speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell basically just punted the ball back to House Speaker John Boehner. The story of this funding bill has largely been about dissention among Republicans than about anything Democrats have proposed, and it's hard to see any scenario where the GOP doesn't lose on this one. The House can hold firm on Tea Party principles and refuse the Senate version, but if they do that and refuse to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for political reasons related to immigration reform, they will hand Democrats the undisputed title of "Party that gets to say it cares more about protecting Americans from terrorism."

And for what? It's not like Congress is just going to stop funding for DHS forever. Republicans have majority control of both chambers of Congress, which limits the number of fingers they can point, and even trying to toss this onto President Obama's shoulders isn't going to save them; Obama is in his seventh year in office and his approval ratings are starting to rise as he nears the end of his stay in the White House.

Whatever happens, this isn't going to end well for Republicans. The only question yet to be answered is this: Just how bad will it get for the GOP?

Fracking Task Force Falls Flat: Smart Next Steps Needed

UPDATE: Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst slows down talk of a ballot measure, in a new statement that seems to walk back her comments to the Denver Post's John Frank:

“There have been reports that I may favor a ballot initiative. At this time, I believe a ballot initiative conversation is premature and not an avenue I am interested in pursuing. I look forward to continuing conversations with all parties involved, including mineral rights and surface rights owners, industry, environmental organizations, and local governments and communities on how we can best address the tensions caused by industrial activities in local communities.”

As a reminder, here's what Speaker Hullinghorst told the Post earlier today:

“We may just have to go to an initiative on this — I’m not averse to do that,” she said. [Pols emphasis]

None of this can be considered the definitive word, but you can guess that there are some interesting conservations going on right now behind the scenes. As soon as we have new insight on the state of play here, we'll share it. Original post follows.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 25)

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BIll O'Reilly would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he overslept. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Late yesterday, the Governor's Oil & Gas Taskforce released its "recommendations" for dealing with fracking…and they were about as anti-climactic as skeptics had expected. After months of meetings, the task force submitted a handful of small proposals to Gov. John Hickenlooper, though the most robust proposals for promoting more local control failed to move forward. Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said the taskforce produced "some gravy, but forgot the meat and potatoes"; Noble Energy Vice President (and task-force member) Dan Kelly told the Denver Post that he thinks the group's recommendations "will address the issue." Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) was blunt in his assessment that "the oil and gas industry proved they weren't interested in a compromise or solving problems." So, that went well.

► Despite holding majority control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves over whether to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before Friday's deadline. As Politico reports, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) are pretty well hosed:

McConnell has been quiet for weeks about his next steps. But his new proposal on Tuesday — to extend DHS funding through September while advancing a separate plan to block a portion of Obama’s immigration proposal — signaled that he’s nervous a shutdown could damage his party politically. Twenty-four GOP senators are up for reelection next year.

Boehner is in an even tighter jam: Any sense that he is caving to the White House could further erode confidence in his leadership among the far right, which is furious at Obama’s immigration push. Boehner has not directly addressed whether he’d put a stand-alone funding bill on the floor, and several Republican leadership sources say they favor several short-term measures to try to keep the heat on the White House.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Cliven Bundy-Loving AFP Spox Lands Colorado Senate GOP Job

AFP-Bundy

Sean Paige.

Sean Paige.

The local arm of national conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity has made a lot of noise in the last couple of years, which is to be expected for a well-funded and staffed group set up by the Koch Brothers to organize the "conservative grassroots." In the last year, though AFP Colorado has run into frequent trouble with our local media–from fact checks of their anti-Obamacare ads that didn't even try to be truthful, widespread condemnation of the group's misuse of photos from the aftermath of the Aurora shooting in a political ad against Mark Udall, and also a bizarre incident last year involving the Nevada standoff between the federal government and rancher Cliven Bundy.

In mid-April of last year as the standoff in the Nevada desert between Bureau of Land Management officials and Bundy raged, AFP Colorado joined its Nevada counterpart in a vigorous defense of Bundy's "right" to graze his cattle on federal land without a grazing lease. A few days later, Bundy launched into a nationally televised rant about "the Negro" that precipitated a dramatic loss of support. Not long after, AFP Colorado deleted the Tweet you see above supporting Bundy along with several others, and for good measure several complete months of their Twitter history–including their defense of using the aforementioned Aurora shooting photos in their ads.

The spokesman for AFP Colorado at that time was longtime Colorado Springs conservative activist and sometime radio host Sean Paige. AFP Colorado and Paige's Twitter accounts were often posting the same items simultaneously in those days, but that ended after the Cliven Bundy mass deletion incident–and sometime after that, Paige himself and AFP Colorado parted ways.

Fast forward to today, as the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

That's right, folks! The very same Sean Paige is now the press secretary for Bill Cadman's Colorado Senate Republican majority. At first blush, you might consider this to be a big mistake on the part of the Senate GOP–whose media operation is already hard-pressed to run cover for the antics of members like Vicki Marble, Kent Lambert, Laura Waters Woods, and Kevin Lundberg while they push "Anti-Vaxxer Bills of Rights" and other such publicly repellent agenda items. Is Paige really the right man for this job?

And that's when it hits you–of course he is.

Who Is Paying 2013 Recall Spox To Tell Tall Marijuana Tales?

GOP spokesperson Jennifer Kerns.

GOP spokesperson Jennifer Kerns.

Longtime readers will remember the name Jennifer Kerns, the California-based public relations flack hired by the recall campaigns against two Colorado state senators in 2013. Although the recall elections were successful, Kerns herself failed rather spectacularly in her role as spokesperson after claiming that mail-in ballots "from Chicago" were fraudulently being turned in for the recall elections. Surprised inquiring journalists were, safe to say, not impressed with Kerns' basically nonexistent justification for this–as if we need to tell you–thoroughly bogus assertion.

Since then, we haven't heard too much from Jennifer Kerns. In October of 2013, Kerns announced a recall campaign against legislators in California over that state's gun safety laws, though the effort appears to have fizzled since then. But it looks like Ms. Kerns has a new gig–spreading some pretty outlandish stories about the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. This morning, Kerns published a guest column on the right-wing news site The Blaze titled Colorado’s ‘Pot Pregnancies’ Birthing New Generation of Crack Babies, which is provoking fierce discussion today:

Colorado health professionals are coming forward to report an emerging trend: expectant mothers who are addicted to pot.

The emerging health crisis is creating what is undoubtedly our generation’s version of 1980s “crack babies.”

Health practitioners specializing in the field of Obstetrics & Gynecology spoke to me on condition of anonymity to report an alarming rise in pregnant patients showing up in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices and presenting mysterious complications including abdominal pains, cold sweats, shakiness, insomnia, weight loss and a host of psychological problems…

In order to treat symptoms as well as help alleviate the pain of the withdrawal process, the physicians in Colorado report they have had to reintroduce doses of THC to expectant mothers, which of course leaves their babies susceptible to addiction and the complications above which often must be treated in neonatal units.

The emerging situation is not unlike babies who are addicted to crack. [Pols emphasis]

Now folks, we don't want to be accused of trying to cover up any legitimate problem that may be created/worsened by the legalization of marijuana. Beyond the revenue it generates for our badly cash-strapped state government, we have no stake in the issue one way or the other. We would of course be concerned if there were evidence that marijuana legalization had created a real public safety problem in the state, but there is no evidence we have seen anywhere to suggest that it has. Recent public polling shows that Colorado voters do not regret the decision to legalize marijuana in 2012, even though not as many Coloradans have made the personal choice to partake in newly-legal marijuana as some pre-legalization predictions. As a result tax revenues from legal weed, although a welcome boost for the state's bottom line, have not kept pace with expectations.

So, those are the facts we know about marijuana in Colorado. What we have not seen anywhere, and we're pretty sure that there are better qualified local sources than Jennifer Kerns, is any evidence whatsoever of an epidemic of marijuana-addicted pregnant mothers. For starters, there is no evidence to suggest that cessation of marijuana smoking causes "violent or painful withdrawal" in the manner of crack concaine. We can't imagine anyone suggesting that smoking pot while pregnant is a good thing, but there's no evidence that it causes anything like the major withdrawal symptoms and lasting health effects experienced by so-called "crack babies."

The biggest problem for Kerns is, much like her preposterous warning of ballots being mailed "from Chicago" in the 2013 recalls, she doesn't have any sources to back up her claims. These doctors Kerns, a California-based Republican political spokesperson, is allegedly talking to…don't want to talk to the local press? Because we feel confident that if anything like what Kerns describes was actually happening, those doctors would find a better (or at least a real) news outlet to tell their stories to. In the absence of a credible source, we have to assume this is as bogus as Kerns' last Colorado fish story.

The only question that remains for us is, who is paying Kerns to write this crap? Because as a professional paid spokesperson, somebody is.

Rep. Doug Lamborn Supports Small Government*

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

The Colorado Springs Gazette's Tom Roeder reports on GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn's speech yesterday to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance:

In an annual address to area business leaders, Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn pledged to block attempts to close bases and to continue his efforts to grow the Pentagon budget… [Pols emphasis]

Lamborn faces concerns at home over defense cuts that have driven downsizing, including a proposal to cut up to 16,000 of Fort Carson's 24,000 soldiers. With defense spending making up about 50 cents of every payroll dollar in the Pikes Peak region, Lamborn said boosting the Pentagon budget is a top priority.

To get more cash into military coffers, Lamborn wants to exempt the Pentagon from automatic cuts that Congress approved in 2011.

"We should continue the spending caps, but not at the expense of defense," he said.

Lamborn also pledged to squash Pentagon efforts to trim spending by closing bases.

"That's a nonstarter," he said.

One of the fascinating contradictions inherent to representing the arch-conservative but also economically government-dependent El Paso County is the need to give lip service to "small government" conservative fiscal ideology, while simultaneously working to ensure there are no cuts of any kind to the government presence most important to El Paso County–that is, defense spending. After all, cuts to even totally unnecessary and obscure defense projects are more likely to affect Lamborn's defense industry supporters than anybody else. That's how you get a speech vowing to slash taxes and repeal health care reform, but won't even consider the smallest reductions in the nation's enormous defense budget.

It's good that Colorado Springs has Rep. Lamborn, who doesn't sweat the contradictions they live by.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Feb. 24)

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Put down the snowman and get back to work. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss regulating "unmanned aerial vehicles," more commonly known as "drones." Don't tell Vice Chair Kevin Lundberg, but staff at the Capitol expect to be regaled by testimony from tiny little pilots.

No Homeland Security funding for you! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out what to do after the Senate voted for a fourth time to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because Republicans are still mad that President Obama tried to do something about immigration. Congress has until Feb. 27 to approve appropriations to continue funding DHS. From the Durango Herald:

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has warned that an agency shutdown would result in 75-80 percent of staff members being forced to work without pay, as their jobs are deemed vital to national security. An additional 30,000 would be furloughed.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Um, That’s Not a “Policy,” Darryl Glenn

Darryl Glenn military

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn was the first official Republican candidate to announce a campaign for U.S. Senate in 2016. He'll always have that to remember, we guess, since it's not likely that he'll be the last remaining GOP candidate. So enjoy him — and his bizarre campaign logo — while you can.

Here's Glenn's latest email to supporters, titled "My Policy Statement on Use of Force." You may notice, as we did, that Glenn's "policy statement" doesn't…actually contain…a policy. The full email text is available after the jump, but here's the heart of the non-policy policy statement (bold text is how it originally appears):

The politicians in …Washington DC and other nation’s capitals do play a necessary role in providing funding, resources, and intelligence to their military commanders. However, a politician fighting a war through policy dictates thousands of miles away has never been successful as history teaches time and again.

The rapid advancement of Islamic jihadists throughout the Middle East is a significant threat to national security interests of the United States and other nations. My policy is to create the dialog among the politicians, military leaders, and US citizens to examine and decide the best use of military operations against Islamic jihadists. We must clearly define our goals and operational objectives, the scope of the radical Islamic threat and then give our military commanders the flexibility to complete the mission.

Sounds good! Er, whatever.

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Patricia Arquette Oscar Speech Timely for Colorado

Patricia Arquette Oscar

This is the face we imagine Patricia Arquette would make after listening to Colorado Republicans dismiss pay equity concerns.

In case you missed it last night, actress Patricia Arquette gave a rousing acceptance speech that put equality issues front and center. As The Daily Beast explains:

"It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!" the actress proclaimed.

It was the Oscars moment that caused Meryl Streep to jump out of her seat, jab her finger in the air, and scream, “YES!” over and over again.

The 87th annual Academy Awards had reached a critical lull in the proceedings. But the snooze-worthy broadcast was momentarily salvaged by journeywoman actress Patricia Arquette, who delivered a rousing speech upon accepting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boyhood.

First Arquette thanked her fellow nominees, the cast and crew of the 12-year project Boyhood, and her friends and family, “who all work so hard to make this world a better place.”

Then she brought the house down.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

The entire place—Streep and seatmate Jennifer Lopez included—rose to their feet for the night’s biggest standing ovation.

Last month, Senate Republicans effectively killed off the Colorado Pay Equity Commission when they used a Party-line vote to prevent renewing the Commission. Senate Republicans' skill for poor timing brought more attention to the issue; the vote against the Commission came one day after new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women on average will earn about 77.9% of what men earn. State Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat RIdge) has since announced her own legislation (HB-1133) to continue the work of the Pay Equity Commission.

If you're wondering why anyone would be opposed to pay equity for women, well, you're not alone. But by 11:00 this morning, conservative activist Jessica Peck had already published an Op-Ed in the online version of the Denver Post in which she said…this:

Time and again, studies and data and antecdotes show that we do have gender equality in the United States. That is, when women act like men, we make as much or more money than men. Here's what we have to do: leave our babies in the hands of others and immediately return to work post-birth; leave our elderly parents in the hands of others to age — and die — so we can work; and aggressively negotiate salary and wage increases…

…Now, let's negotiate wages like the boys and we've got the rest covered. I run my own business. It's tough at times, but never have I ever had a male client suggest I should demand a lower wage just because I'm a girl. [Pols emphasis]

Uhh, come again? Does Peck want to be paid a lower wage because she is a woman?

Arquette's speech should only bring more attention to Rep. Danielson's legislation, and it's going to make a House vote on HB-1133 pretty interesting. Democrats can pass this bill out of the House on their own, but how could any Republican in an even halfway competitive district go on the record with a 'NO' vote now?

Freshman Democrat Learns Triangulation Stings A Little

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

As the Aspen Times' Scott Condon reports, newly elected Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail is taking heat from her Democratic constituents–otherwise known as her base–over her co-sponsorship of the GOP's bill to repeal the 15-round gun magazine limit passed in 2013:

Donovan, a Vail Democrat, came under fire at a town hall meeting at the Aspen Square Condominiums for signing on as a co-sponsor on a Senate bill to repeal a law that banned possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The controversial 2013 law limits magazines to 15 rounds or less…

“This is a very controversial, passionate issue,” Donovan said. “Yes, my signing on has caused friction.”

She acknowledged that her position has “pissed off” part of her diverse district — primarily residents in the liberal strongholds of Aspen, Vail and Crested Butte. But nearly all residents in the rest of the district — which includes Delta County, San Luis Valley, Leadville and Buena Vista — supports the repeal of law, she said.

And then, as Condon reports, Donovan let a little realpolitik slip:

Donovan also seemed to downplay her support of its repeal by noting the bill will likely face a quick death in the House if it advances, as expected, from the Senate. Democrats hold a slim edge in the state House. Republicans control the state Senate by one vote.

“I don’t believe it makes it out of the House,” Donovan said of the bill. [Pols emphasis]

That didn’t placate the Aspen crowd…

So no, it was not wise for Sen. Donovan to use the likely death of a bill she is co-sponsoring at the hands of fellow Democrats to deflect criticism for her co-sponsorship of said bill. The average voter, and especially more literate voters who show up to town hall meetings, actually really hate excuses like that. It should be noted in her defense that Donovan made a promise to vote to repeal the 15-round limit during her campaign, though there were plenty of other issues in her race last year against Republican Don Suppes for voters to chew on besides guns. It's anybody's guess how many votes Donovan may have picked up by opposing the magazine limit–but we're inclined to believe single-issue gun voters in SD-5 voted Republican no matter what she said. And obviously, not enough did.

In the long run, we don't think this will hurt Sen. Donovan politically, mostly because we don't think gun magazines will be an issue by 2018 when she is back up for election. Guns didn't factor in 2014 enough for Colorado Republicans to perform over mean even in a national wave year–not enough to take both chambers of the legislature, or take down our incumbent governor. That's why the magazine limit isn't going to be repealed.

So maybe it's good to learn the limits of triangulation now? Because you can't win without your base.

Does Obama “Love America?” Coffman Ought To Know This One

coffmannotanamerican

Over the last week, Republican luminaries including a couple of 2016 presidential short-listers got caught up in an interesting debate over a pressing political question–does President Barack Obama love America? Not in some abstract sense–when that Alan Jackson song about 9/11 comes on the radio, does it make President Obama cry?

Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani.

Okay, you're right. This is neither an interesting debate nor a pressing political question. Nonetheless, GOP-leaning PJ Media reports that conservative minds want to know:

Every Republican, especially those with an eye on 2016, is now being asked to confirm or repudiate the opinion of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on President Obama’s feelings toward America.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country,” Giuliani said at a Wednesday dinner in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker…

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

Now, it's been a long time since anybody seriously thought of the once-popular Rudy Giuliani as "America's Mayor," and in truth he's been sliding into irrelevance for some time, apparently trying to compete with fellow washed-up New York blowhard Donald Trump for who can utter the most outrageous statement about black people. Graded on the curve, Giuliani's rant about Obama not "loving America" isn't really all that noteworthy.

What gets a little harder to explain, though, is when much more politically viable Republican politicians, including some who might actually want to be President themselves someday, voluntarily start trafficking in the same shallow invective as the Giulianis and Trumps of the world. Washington Post:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.

“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion…

TIME Magazine:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s criticism of President Obama Wednesday.

“The gist of what Mayor Giuliani said – that the President has shown himself to be completely unable to speak the truth about the nature of the threats from these ISIS terrorists — is true,” Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said in a statement to TIME. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the Mayor, look elsewhere.” [Pols emphasis]

As the gratuitous questioning of President Obama's faith and "love of America" ramped up last week among allegedly serious Republican politicians, our thoughts travelled back–to a May 2012 dinner hosted by the Elbert County, Colorado GOP. Rep. Mike Coffman responded to a loaded audience question about President Obama's citizenship, saying "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."

Within a few days, Coffman was in full damage control mode, and his robotic "I misspoke and I apologize" answer delivered over and over on camera made him a nationwide laughingstock–not a career-ender as it narrowly turned out that year, but without a doubt the greatest public embarrassment of Coffman's long career in politics.

Well folks, so much speculation by high level Republicans about Obama's love of country should make Coffman's views on Obama's American-ness relevant all over again. Don't you think? At the very least, Coffman could give his colleagues a lesson in how not to apologize! Either way, it does appear this strange xenophobic uncertainty about America's first black President is still a problem for Coffman's party.

Which means it's still a problem for Coffman.