Trump Finally Gets Around to Doing TV Ads…But Not in Colorado

Did we mention that Sen. Cory Gardner says he's voting for Donald Trump?

Did we mention that Sen. Cory Gardner says he’s voting for Donald Trump?

As the Associated Press reports, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is finally spending money on television ads:

A new brain trust in place, Donald Trump on Thursday moved to invest nearly $5 million in battleground state advertising as the Republican presidential contender took modest steps to address daunting challenges in the states that will make or break his White House ambitions.

The New York businessman’s campaign reserved television ad space over the coming 10 days in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. While Democrat Hillary Clinton has spent more than $75 million on advertising in 10 states since locking up her party’s nomination, Trump’s new investment marks his first of the general election season.

You might have noticed that Colorado is not on the list of states getting TV ad attention from the Trump campaign. This may just be an initial TV ad buy announcement — after all, $5 million is a relative pittance in terms of ad spending in a Presidential race — but the absence of Colorado from this list will only further the belief that our fair state is out of reach for Trump. That’s what the polls say, anyway.

In Which Trump’s Legal Counsel Channels the “Black Knight”

If you are unfamiliar with the scene featuring the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just watch this clip. This scene, in which the Black Knight character repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the fact that King Arthur is (literally) chopping him to pieces during a sword fight, was the first thing that came to mind when we saw this CNN interview with Michael Cohen, chief counsel to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Wednesday’s interview quickly went viral, with the hashtag #SaysWho, for reasons you can see for yourself:

Donald Trump and his campaign are uncomfortable with the truth. Mr. Trump has made that clear throughout his campaign, and on Wednesday his chief counsel, Michael Cohen, punctuated the point in a tense interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

“You guys are down,” Keilar said.

“Says who?” Cohen asked.

“Polls … most of them,” Keilar continued. Maybe even “all of them?”

There was an unusually long silence — long enough, perhaps, for anyone listening to hear Trump’s poll numbers dropping further, in real time, on live television.

“Says who?” Cohen asked again.

“Polls,” said Keilar. “I just told you.”

You can see the interview yourself below:

Senate Republicans Entice Donors with Horse (and John Elway)

We were forwarded this invitation to a fundraiser benefitting the state Senate Republicans, and we felt compelled to share it with our readers.

The headliner of the event is former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, who has long been a staunch Republican supporter. Elway’s name appears at the top of the invitation, just before the name Climax Molybdenum, which sounds like some sort of new-age porn star but is in fact a Colorado mining company.

But our favorite part of the invitation is the big mention at the bottom left: A special appearance by Thunder, the Broncos mascot. For a minimum contribution of $500, you can get up close and personal with a horse.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 18)

Get More SmarterBack to school, back to school; to show my dad, that I’m not a fool. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


► According to polling results released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, Colorado’s U.S. Senate race is really starting to get away from Republicans. Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) leads Republican Darryl Glenn 52-38 in a head-to-head matchup. These numbers are similar to those reported by NBC/Marist last week, in which Bennet was leading Glenn 53-38.

Quinnipiac has a strange history of polling in Colorado, however, and they added to their weird reputation in a press release announcing the poll numbers. Here’s a quote from Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac University: “There is still time for Darryl Glenn to summon enough support to win a Senate seat the GOP sorely needs.”

Um, no. There may not even be time for Glenn to get this race to within single digits.

On Wednesday, Quinnipiac released polling numbers in Colorado for the Presidential race, showing Hillary Clinton with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump.


► Speaking of Trump, his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, says that her plan moving forward is to “let Trump be Trump.” In other words, Donald Trump has apparently given up on the idea of being elected President.


► The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday that it will no longer employ the use of private prisons, citing evidence that they are less safe and less effective than government-run prisons. From the Washington Post:

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical reportconcluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report. Yates said there are 13 privately run facilities under the Bureau of Prisons purview.

There are several private prisons in Colorado that house criminals convicted of state or local crimes; it is unclear how this announcement might affect these facilities.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


With Hillary Pulling Away, What Happens Down The Ballot?

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton.

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, there’s really no longer any doubt:

Hillary Clinton holds a 10-point lead over Donald Trump among likely Colorado voters, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released Wednesday…

It’s the sixth consecutive poll that shows Clinton comfortably ahead in Colorado, which has been considered a swing state in recent elections.

In the poll, which was conducted Aug. 9-16, Democrat Clinton beats Republican Trump with the support of 49 percent of likely Colorado voters to his 39 percent. In a four-way race, Clinton leads Trump 41-33 percent, with 16 percent for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and 7 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Colorado voters appear to have highly unfavorable opinions about both Clinton and Trump, although that’s a contest Trump is winning by about 10 points.

Quinnipiac University’s polling in Colorado is notorious for overestimating Republican strength, especially early polling from them more useful as GOP-leaning propaganda than any kind of accurate barometer. In this case, however, Q-Pac is tracking only a few points right to what the other recent polls all show in Colorado–a large and growing lead for Hillary Clinton.

In the absence of anything on the horizon to change the trajectory of the presidential race, the next logical question is how the growing likelihood of a Clinton landslide victory will affect races down the ballot. Republicans have more or less conceded the U.S. Senate race to incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet at this point, so the line of defense for them begins with the two congressional races considered pickup opportunities for Democrats: Scott Tipton in CD-3 and Mike Coffman in CD-6. From there, Colorado Republicans face a major challenge holding their one-seat majority in the state senate–with everything coming down to an all-in Trump-supporting conservative running in a swing suburban district.

For all of their perennial bravado Republicans have generally had their backs against the wall electorally in this state since 2004, when a resurgent Democratic coalition took what has proven to be enduring control of the state legislature. Since 2004 Democrats have won consistently at the top of the ticket, and fought to the last vote even in the biggest “GOP wave years” of the Obama presidency.

In 2016, the scenarios for Republicans in Colorado range from honorable defeat to wholesale destruction. The difference relies on the degree to which local Republicans can convince voters to split the ticket–a nightmarish political position to be in.

For Democrats, it’s the greatest opportunity to run up the score since the “Colorado Model” became a thing.

Thursday Open Thread

“A prejudice, unlike a simple misconception, is actively resistant to all evidence that would unseat it.”

–Gordon W. Allport

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 17)

Get More SmarterHappy Flag Day…in Bolivia. 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


► Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has made some major changes at the top of his campaign as the candidate pledges to increase his level of Trumpiness in the final months of the election cycle. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

“I am who I am,” Trump said. “I’ve gotten here in a landslide and we’ll see what happens.”

What that quote — and the subsequent staff moves — should tell you is that Trump believes he made a mistake in bowing to establishment pressure and bringing in a veteran hand like Manafort to oversee things. Trump sees his current problems in the race as deriving not from being too much of himself but from not being enough of himself.

What moving out Manafort and elevating Conway and Bannon should tell you is that Trump has decided that he is going to run the last three months — or so — of the campaign on his own terms. Win or lose, he is going to go out being himself.

If you come across a Republican weeping quietly in the fetal position today, try to give them an encouraging pat on the back or something.

And if you see Sen. Cory Gardner, it’s probably best that you just not use the “T” word. Gardner quietly announced his support for Trump on Friday, but the lede was so buried that the original story didn’t get widespread attention until Tuesday.


► New polling results from Quinnipiac University show that Hillary Clinton maintains a  double-digit lead over Donald Trump in Colorado. Quinnipiac has Clinton up 49-39 in Colorado; 47-44 in Iowa; and 50-38 in Virginia. Quinnipiac’s numbers in Colorado are in the same ballpark as the Real Clear Politics polling average of Clinton +11.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Just Go Away, Eric Nelson–Pretty Please?

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Quincy Snowdon reports on the ongoing embarrassment over ex-Democratic House candidate Eric Nelson, who remains on the Aurora Public Schools board despite revelations of lies about basically everything related to Nelson’s past:

Former APS Superintendent John Barry, who moved on from the district three years ago, reiterated Tuesday what the majority of the school board and several community members have already made clear this summer: Nelson should cease his work on the school board because of his fictitious resume and falsified military record.

“Mr. Nelson, veterans in Aurora ask for your resignation,” Barry, who is a retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, said before the meeting. In an initial report published by The Colorado Statesman earlier this summer, Nelson was accused of falsifying several points on his resume, including academic degrees, military decorations and affiliations with multiple professional organizations. An investigation solicited by APS for a fee of about $18,000 substantiated those initial claims.

During the public comment section of the regular board meeting, Barry read a letter penned by U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, that called for former U.S. Attorney John Walsh to investigate whether Nelson violated federal law. Specifically, Coffman — and now Barry — asked the prosecutor’s office to determine if Nelson was in violation of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, a federal law intended to punish anyone who misrepresents receipt of military decorations.

It’s anybody’s guess how long this charade is going to continue. The APS board has no authority to remove Nelson from the board, though they have censured him and relieved him of basically all of his responsibilities besides attending meetings and voting on proposals.

Whether Nelson finally puts an end to the distraction or serves out his term in disgrace, he’s a lesson to everyone in politics on why you vet all candidates. Yes, even for the school board.

Because, well, you just never know.

Trump Shakes Up Campaign Staff (Again)


Bannon and Conway: “You’re hired!”

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is falling rapidly in the polls and flailing wildly everywhere else, so it should come as little surprise that His Hairness is once again making major changes at the top of his campaign. As CNN reports:

Donald Trump’s campaign is undergoing a major staff shake-up with less than three months to Election Day, adding two officials to top posts overseeing his struggling campaign and signaling a shift toward campaigning as a scorched earth outsider in order to win.

Trump has named Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News and a former investment banker, to the post of chief executive and promoted Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster to his campaign, to the position of campaign manager, Conway confirmed to CNN early Wednesday morning.

The addition of Bannon — known for his brass-knuckled demeanor and his website’s sharp tone — came hours after reports surfaced that Roger Ailes, the recently ousted head of Fox News, will begin to advise Trump as he prepares for the presidential debates. The influence of both men lays the groundwork for unleashing Trump this fall from the more traditional presidential candidate framework, which Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s leadership was brought on to create. [Pols emphasis]

Trump is apparently growing increasingly frustrated with his plummeting poll numbers, and multiple news outlets are reporting that he has been feuding with Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort — who was just brought on a few months ago — over the direction of the campaign in general. Trump seems to believe that his best path to winning the Presidential race is to get back to his Republican Primary self; he seems convinced that voters want more Trump, not less Trump. Again, from CNN:

Both Trump and Manafort discussed the friction in their relationship with friends in recent days, and a close associate described Trump as frustrated at the state of the race, leveling complaints that he has been the victim of bad advice from his political team. [Pols emphasis]

“Mr. Trump doesn’t trust him anymore. That’s it. Pure and simple,” a source familiar with the tensions told CNN, adding that Trump’s gaffes and controversial statements in recent weeks have been fueled in part by his “exasperation” with the campaign’s management.

If Trump wants someone different from Manafort, he should find it in Steve Bannon. A former investment banker with no experience managing a political campaign, Bannon is the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, the conservative online news outlet that has fawned over Trump for most of the last year. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway will assume prominent new roles in the Trump campaign, while the newly-neutered Manafort (along with deputy Rick Gates) are relegated to offices in Washington D.C.

Trump’s staff changes have not been met with much enthusiasm among Republican allies. Or perhaps they have fallen under the spell of Trump spokeswoman Katrina “Baghdad Bob” Pierson, who insisted that the moves were not indicative of a “shakeup.”

Oh, and one more thing…good timing on that Trump endorsement, Sen. Cory Gardner!

Larimer County GOP Warning: “Muslim Prayers Forced”

Oh noes! The invisible rogue staffer social media “hacker” — otherwise known as John Doe — may have struck again in Colorado!


We were recently forwarded a screen shot of a post that appeared on the Facebook page of the Larimer County Republicans on Saturday warning about President Obama’s nefarious policy forcing students across the country to “Pray in Muslim.” The post is no longer available on the Larimer GOP’s Facebook page, but thanks to a sharp reader you can see it yourself right here.

The since-deleted post links to a story at something called the Conservative Daily Post titled: “JUST IN: Obama Just Mandated These 5 Schools to Pray in Muslim, Make Sure YOUR Kids Do NOT Go Here.” 

Yes, it really does say “Pray in Muslim.”

According to the Conservative Daily Post “story,” five schools in five different states are now requiring students to “Pray in Muslim.” One educator is even quoted in the story almost speaking full sentences:

“When you’re separated, it’s really hard to feel like you’re a part of the community,” assistant superintendent Marsha Baisch said. “You feel different, you feel other.”

We totally understand. Nobody ever wants to feel other.

And nobody should have to be forced to “Pray in Muslim” if they would prefer to “Pray in Christian” or “Pray in Jewish.”

Liberal Groups To Come Out Against “ColoradoCare”

coloradocareA press release from the opposition group to Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare single-payer health care initiative, announces a press conference tomorrow opposing the measure headlined by progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers:

A group of Colorado progressive leaders, including a number of state lawmakers and legislative candidates, will announce their opposition to Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare. The group will hold a news conference on Wednesday, August 17 at 10 a.m. at the offices of ProgressNow Colorado, 1714 Humboldt Street in Denver.

The group announcing their opposition includes activists who support universal healthcare coverage nationally but believe that ColoradoCare’s one-state plan is risky, untested and financially unsustainable.

Amendment 69, on the ballot this year, would double the state budget through a $25-bllion tax increase to create a government-run health insurance system that would replace the current health insurance coverage for virtually all Coloradans. The plan has garnered opposition from across the state, citing not only its massive cost and high taxation, but significant concerns about reduction in the accessibility and quality of healthcare.

Tomorrow’s presser is set to include ProgressNow Colorado, NARAL Pro Choice Colorado who had already come out against Amendment 69 citing unintentional problems the law could create for abortion coverage, and a number of Democratic lawmakers led by House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran. Local Republicans have seized on Amendment 69 as a stick to beat Democrats at all levels with, employing misinformation and scare tactics to frame the debate in terms favorable to them.

The combination of very long odds for successful passage of Amendment 69, potential serious unintended consequences identified by NARAL and others, and Republicans apparently determined to make the initiative toxic in a perilous and unpredictable election year simply makes supporting the measure politically non-viable for Democrats in competitive races this year. Recognizing that early, and giving lawmakers up for election cover to stay clear of the measure, is the smart play politically–even if it stings a little in the short term.

We’ll update after tomorrow’s press conference.

Gardner Backs Trump, Backing Coffman Against Wall

UPDATE: Cory Gardner reaffirms he’s all in in a statement today:



Sen. Cory Gardner says he supports Donald Trump for President

Sen. Cory Gardner says he supports Donald Trump for President

Earlier today we noted that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently announced his support of Donald Trump for President over the weekend. Like many Republicans, Gardner had been avoiding questions about his support for Trump — even though he was on record pledging to support the GOP nominee for President — but Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette caught Gardner’s admission of support for Trump at the annual El Paso County Republican Party fundraiser on Friday night.

Gardner’s support of Trump is buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa in Schrader’s story from Friday, which is why this is just now making waves on Tuesday. From the Gazette:

[Darryl] Glenn enthusiastically backed Trump when he addressed the crowd – a sentiment that was echoed by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

“That’s why I’m voting Republican up and down the ticket. A Republican president will make a difference, even a Republican president named Donald Trump,” said Gardner [Pols emphasis], who last year accomplished what Glenn hopes to do this year by unseating one of Colorado’s Democratic senators.

Perhaps Gardner and his staff hoped that they could sweep this under the rug entirely, and they damn near succeeded. Gardner’s admission that he is voting for Trump should have been breaking news, but after lying dormant for a few days, his quote finally got mainstream attention today. This may be hard for Gardner to explain, of course, since he has been so anti-Trump for most of the 2016 election cycle:

Gardner’s public support of Trump creates a new problem for Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has been trying to toe the middle line between concern about Trump and concern about losing Republican voters who love Trump.

Coffman has been taking a lot of heat for his wish wash on Trump, and the negative press he has earned as a result has been pretty rough (not to mention the verbal beatdown he received from former Rep. Tom Tancredo, whom Coffman once called his “hero”).

Rep. Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman

Last week Coffman’s hometown Aurora Sentinel published a strongly-worded editorial calling on Coffman and other Republicans to condemn Trump with no strings attached, which Coffman didn’t want to do. Coffman’s response to the Sentinel editorial was almost a word-for-word copy of a standard Trump talking point:

“What they forget is that Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt and dishonest politician ever to run for the Presidency.”

In the course of just a few weeks, Coffman has run a TV ad saying that he “doesn’t like Trump very much,” which was followed by several interviews in which Coffman refused to rule out voting for Trump. All of this made Coffman look particularly ridiculous, and his waffling no doubt contributed to a growing narrative about Coffman’s inability to stick with a position on anything.

With Gardner’s public support of Trump, Coffman now has to try to explain his position on Trump all over again — and in new detail. Gardner says he will vote for Trump. Will Coffman still try to refuse to answer that question?

Larry Mizel Continues To Help Donald Trump. Why?

Larry Mizel.

Larry Mizel.

With Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s next fundraiser in Colorado set for August 25th in Aspen, we just wanted to note again for the record who Trump’s go-to guy for fundraising in our state is once again, not matter what controversy Trump steps in–as the Denver Business Journal reports:

Larry Mizel, CEO of Denver-based homebuilder [M.D.C. Holdings], will host a fundraiser for Donald Trump and the Republican Party at a home in Aspen…

Mizel — a longtime supporter of Republican causes — is co-chair of Republican presidential candidate Trump’s Colorado campaign. He founded M.D.C. Holdings (NYSE: MDC) — which does business as Richmond American Homes — in 1972.

He also reportedly co-hosted a Trump fundraiser in June along with beer executive Pete Coors at the Cherry Hills Village home of former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan.

As we’ve noted previously, local Republican kingmaker Larry Mizel has a very long history of philanthropy in addition to his support for Republican candidates and causes. Mizel is among other things the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading international Jewish human rights organization. The Wiesenthal Center has condemned the rhetoric used by Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail, saying his attacks on Muslims “hurts the legitimate campaign against Islamist Fundamentalism and demeans law abiding American citizens.” Numerous instances of Trump’s campaign and message either being directly influenced by anti-Semitic extremists or at least inspiring them have added to the campaign’s unprecedented appeals to division.

It is with all of this in mind that we are obliged to ask the question that no one in the Colorado media seems to be able to ask: why is Larry Mizel backing Donald Trump? It seems to us that if Mizel had a compelling story to tell about his support for Trump, it might help respond to the onslaught of attacks over Trump’s divisiveness. Even if Mizel doesn’t have a good reason for standing by Trump as he offends basically the entire world, the media has an obligation to call him to account as one of the nation’s leading Jewish philanthropists–no matter how influential he may be or what media outlets he furtively buys.

With the media reporting daily now on the massive liability that supporting Donald Trump represents for Republican politicians, it’s time to turn that scrutiny on Trump’s behind-the-scenes enablers like Larry Mizel. Mizel owes the public an explanation for why he, one of the state’s foremost philanthropists and civic leaders, is supporting one of the most divisive politicians in modern American history.

Or perhaps Larry Mizel doesn’t deserve the high status he enjoys.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 16)

Get More SmarterDid you remember to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal on Monday? 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). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.


► Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has asked former Interior Secretary and longtime Colorado politico Ken Salazar to lead her White House transition team. From the Denver Post:

As head of a lineup that includes former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Salazar will be in charge of meeting with Obama administration officials and preparing for a smooth handoff between presidents.

The role has become more official in recent years; transition staff will meet regularly with White House officials and use workspace provided by the General Services Administration.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was tapped by Donald Trump in May for a similar assignment. “Once Hillary Clinton makes history by being elected as the nation’s first woman President, we want to have a turnkey operation in place so she can hit the ground running right away,” Salazar said in a statement released Tuesday by the Clinton campaign.

By leading Clinton’s transition team, Salazar is in prime position to nab a key role in a potential Clinton Administration. This is a significant development for Colorado, as well, as Salazar has long been rumored to be preparing a bid for Governor in 2018. If Salazar were to land a top job in the Clinton Administration, it would likely preclude him from running for Governor.


► Republicans are adopting a strange new strategy when it comes to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte rolled out the newest talking point on Monday, saying that she will be voting for Trump for President, but vows to “stand up to him” if elected.


► It may not qualify as the first rule of politics in Colorado, but it should definitely be in the Top 5: Never use pictures of non-Colorado mountain ranges in literature or video campaign advertisements.


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