Statesman celebrates 118th birthday with launch of new business model

The Colorado Statesman celebrated its 118th birthday last night, with a party at the Governor’s Mansion carriage house and the launch of a new website and business model.

In a short speech at the event, Statesman Publisher Jared Wright praised his staff and noted that the newspaper now has more capitol reporters than any other publication in the state.

That’s part of reason, Wright hopes, that people will buy subscriptions to the publication, which run $13.25 per month ($159 per year) for print and digital together and $179 for a digital-access-only subscription. A 14-day trial is free.  This higher digital-only price incentivizes people to take the print-and-digital package, Wright says, because the print edition generates other ad revenue for the newspaper. Nonsubscribers now can only access AP and opinion pieces on the Statesman website, plus teasers about original content.

“We’re getting a lot of people who are paying $30 more not to receive the print paper,” said Wright. This is because they’re buying the digital-only subscription. So, if you buy a subscription, and you should, do the Statesman a favor and buy the print and digital package.

Is there any model for success using this approach?

“There are a number of publications that are models, most of them are in DC, but the one in the West is the Arizona Capitol Times,” Wright told me, who calls the Statesman “more of a trade journal than a traditional newspaper.”

Asked if there’s a date by which the publication must succeed or shut down, Wright said, “Things are looking good financially now, and will see how it goes.”

A 20-minute program at last night’s reception, moderated by 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, featured speeches by former Republican Gov. Bill Owens and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, both of whom gushed about importance of the Statesman our era of diminished journalism generally and the death of the Rocky Mountain News in particular.

“The great thing about the Statesman is it’s nonpartisan,” said Hickenlooper in a video presented at the event. “It’s pro-partisan, is phrase that somebody used [to describe it]. They want to encourage debate…. Overall, I wouldn’t trade a strong media in the capitol for anything. I think it’s essential…. Long live the Statesman.”

Larry Mizel, who apparently owns a controlling interest in the newspaper, was also at last night’s birthday event, chatting with GOP State Senate President Bill Cadman for a good bit. Mizel is a well-known moderate Republican, and his involvement, along with his hiring of Wright, a former GOP lawmaker, as editor, raised concerns among progressives about the newspaper’s commitment to being fair and accurate. But so far, I don’t see any ideological tilt in the Statesman’s coverage. Its reporting staff, at least the ones I know, are highly regarded by both Democrats and Republicans.

Last night’s crowded reception attracted a bipartisan crowd including Cadman, Rep. Justin Everett, Rep. Alec Garnett, Rep. Crisanta Duran, Sen. Rollie Heath, Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, Rep. Dan Pabon, Rep. Angela Williams, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, former Sen. Ken Salazar, and flacks Owen Loftus and Andrew Zucker.

Update: I added additional attendees of the event.

What about employers who are mean and greedy?

On the conservative talk radio Tuesday, GOP Chair Steve House amplified Republican lawmakers’ objections to the parental-leave legislation, which advanced in the state House yesterday.

Steve House said the bill, which allows parents to attend a limited number of school functions, is unneeded because employers already treat their employees nicely.

House: The point you just brought up,  one of the biggest problems we have as a Party is, we let the Democrats get away with the wrong premise — the premise in that case being that the average employer is not going to take care of their employees, or be flexible — like you just described– so therefore the government has to do it.   That’s crazy.  I’ve worked for a number of employers in my life.  I’ve watched employers deal with the fact that an employee needed  time to go to a school, or you know, to a meeting in the middle of the day. It doesn’t require government intervention unless your premise is all employers are too mean-spirited to do it, and that’s ridiculous!

KLZ 560-AM’s Steve Curtis didn’t ask Steve House, “What’s the big deal, if employers are so nice anyway. Why not have the law in place for the ones that are mean and greedy?’

We know there’s a few of them out there.

GOP Senate candidate fears U.S. government could quickly turn on citizens

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Charles Ehler, who’s one of the dozen or so Republicans vying for the chance to run against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, shared this image on his Facebook page, with no explanation:

I called Ehler,  who is an Air Force Veteran, to find out how close he thinks our government is to rounding us up in boxcars–or if this was a joke. I mean, banning assault rifles leads to this?

Ehler: “It’s funny, and it’s not funny,” he told me, “because we could appear to be a beneveolent society, and as soon as the guns are gone, overnight, we could have a society like that. The force of government can turn on citizens almost at the blink of an eye. It’s called human nature. I have the force and you don’t.

Are we there? I don’t know that we’re there, but boy it could turn quickly. I really don’t think Americans need to find that out. We don’t need to create the conditions for it.”

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Following in the Footsteps of Losers, GOP Senate Candidate Wants to Axe Dept. of Education

(Harsh, but accurate, headline. — promoted by Colorado Pols)

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

Just as Colorado’s GOP State Chair Steve House is telling his fellow Republicans to talk more about education, GOP Senate candidate Peggy Littleton is saying that one of her top priorities if elected would be to abolish the Department of Education.

Asked by KCOL morning host Jimmy Lakey what she’d do if she were the “queen for a day” in the U.S. Senate, Littleton said:

Littleton: I would love to see the Department of Education go away. I don’t want those bureaucrats in Washington to deermine what our kids are going to learn and be able to do and have taken education away from the parents, which is where it originally belongs.” Listen to Littleton on KCOL’s Jimmy Lakey Show 1.26.16

Littleton is following in the footsteps of a list of (mostly) failed Republicans who’ve called for the elimination of the Department of Education. (Usually they don’t talk about the the Department’s job training, grant making, and research functions.)

Rick Perry remembered it during his Ooops Mooment, when he forgot one of the three federal departments he’d shutter.

During his failed U.S. Senate run, Ken Buck called for its closure. So did loser U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton. Failed Scott McInnis suggested axing it in 2010.

Does Littleton want to be part of that group? Maybe she wants to lose?

Keyser dodges questions on TABOR and immigration

(Keyser resigned how many days ago? C’mon man… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison).

It what appears to be the first radio interview of his U.S. Senate run, state Rep. Jon Keyser dodged questions on whether he’d like to change TABOR and abolish a state program offering in-state tuition for undocumented college students.

On KNUS 710-AM Saturday morning, host Craig Silverman asked Keyser, “Are you a high tax or a low tax kind of guy? And how do you feel about changing TABOR – the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Colorado?”

Keyser (@8:35 below): Well, certainly, that’s a state issue, and I’m running for United States Senate, but I am a low tax guy.  I think that the free market economy is something that is always going to work best and the more government, the more regulation that you pile on, the less the business owner – the small business owner, the families – have the ability to be free and make the judgment of how to spend their money the way they want to spend it.

Keyser’s refusal to answer questions on state issues came just five days after he resigned from the state house.

In a series of short questions about policy issues, Silverman asked Keyser, “Should we have in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children?”

Keyser (@7:30 below): You know what?  I don’t think we need to – that’s something that the Colorado voters, I think, have already discussed. But where my focus will be is National security. And Michael Bennet has been terrible on that.  You know, he wants open borders.  I mean, he just recently opposed some very commo- sense legislation to reform our immigration system and that would prevent radical Islamist terrorists from posing and masquerading as refugees coming to our country.

Keyser aligned himself with U.S. Senate Republicans when he told Silverman that Syrians should not be allowed in the U.S. for now because he doesn’t think they can be screened well enough at the present time.

Keyser expressed his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by Obama, which lifted economic sanctions while aiming to stop Iran from developing nuclear bombs.

Keyser said Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s vote in favor of the pact shows he “cares more about the Iranian economy than he does about the Colorado economy.” Ouchy.

In response to a question about global warming, Keyser said he thinks “the climate is changing, but the question is, how much, and to what extent human factors are contributing to that.”

Keyser, who also indicated he is for the death penalty but against most abortions, is part of a crowded field of about a dozen Republicans vying to take on Bennet.

(more…)

Newsworthy and praiseworthy advice from Colorado’s Republican leader

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Steve House.

Steve House.

In a wide-ranging radio interview last week, Colorado GOP Chair Steve House had some newsworthy (and praiseworthy) advice for Colorado Republicans who seek to actually win elections:

  • Don’t just hate Obamacare but focus on solutions.
  • Don’t talk so much about the gun rights and the 2nd Amendment.
  • Talk about education more–but not so much about charter schools.

House’s advice came during a discussion with KFKA 1310 AM’s Stacy Petty about how Colorado Republicans have “got to start thinking a little bit differently on how we talk to people, especially the 490,000 or so unaffiliated or ‘leans right’ voters that we have got to make sure vote Republican, on top of our base in this coming election.”

First, “stop talking at every one of our discussions about the 2nd Amendment,” said House, adding that “we own that issue” and Democrats want Republicans fixating on it.

“You know, no matter what happens in the world, we’re not going to give up on our 2nd Amendment,” said House on air. ” We have defenders in RMGO and NRA and our sheriffs and other people.”

“So, what should we be talking about?” asked House, before answering his own question.  “And I suggested we should be talking about education, because I think it’s the number one issue for us as a state, for us as a Party.”

(more…)

Expect Gardner to co-sponsor Life at Conception Act soon

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner spent a good chunk of his election campaign telling us that the Life at Conception Act was really nothing more than a symbolic statement, when, in fact, it is federal personhood legislation that would ban all abortion, even for rape.

Gardner infamously described the Life at Conception Act, which he co-sponsored, this way, despite widespread objections by reporters:

Gardner: “The federal act that you are referring to is simply a statement that I believe in life.”

So you’d expect him to co-sponsor the U.S. Senate version of the bill, as he did in the House.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has just given him the chance, having introduced the Life at Conception Act just this week, as announced in a news release that described the legislation this way:

Paul: “The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore, is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. Only when America chooses, remembers, and restores her respect for life will we rediscover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”

But Gardner isn’t a co-sponsor yet.

Colorado Republicans are not irrelevant! Close GOP prez primary puts spotlight on Colorado

The irrelevancy of the Colorado Republican Party on the GOP presidential nomination process has apparently been exaggerated.

It’s been previously reported that after state Republicans eliminated their caucus straw poll last year, Colorado delegates could not pledge support to specific candidates prior to the Republican National Convention. In other words, Colorado GOP delegates would have to attend unbound to a candidate.

But this apparently isn’t true.

Republicans in Colorado can still pledge support for a Republican presidential candidate, if they state their intention to do so on a form that’s required to run for one of the 34 elected national-delegate spots. (Three additional Colorado delegates are determined by the Republican National Committee.)

The form, titled “National Delegate Intent to Run Form” must be submitted 13 days prior to the April 9 Republican State Convention or the April 8 Congressional District Convention, where delegates are selected for the national Republican Convention.

The form states:

I intend to stand for election as a candidate for National Delegate at the following convention(s):

□ Congressional District Convention – Congressional District #_

□ State Convention…

Full Name (please print): ___________________________

□ Pledged to Support Presidential Candidate: _____________

□ Unpledged.

As the University of Georgia’s Josh Putnam writes on his blog about the presidential nominating process:

That pledge is much more important than is being discussed.

Colorado has been talked about as a state that will send an unbound delegation to the national convention. That would only be the case if all the delegate candidates who file intent to run forms opted to remain unaffiliated with any presidential campaign. If those delegate candidates pledge to a presidential candidate and are ultimately elected to one of the 34 delegate slots (not counting the party/automatic delegates), then they are functionally locked in with that candidate if that candidate is still in the race for the Republican nomination.

They would be bound to those candidates at the national convention because the Colorado Republican Party bylaws instruct the party chair to cast the delegation’s votes at the national convention “in accordance with the pledge of support made by each National Delegate on their notice of intent to run”. Anywhere from 0 to 34 delegates could end up bound from the Colorado delegation to the Republican National Convention.

That is a real wildcard in the delegate count in Colorado and nationally.

So, the pledge option on the “intent-to-run” form for delegates opens the door for a showdown among Republicans who have bound themselves to different candidates.

It also opens the door for fierce competition among the presidential candidates to push supporters to the caucuses, where they will vote for State-Convention delegates or Congressional-District-Convention delegates who are committed to pledging their support to a specific presidential candidate. (Ron Paul supporters managed to do this in 2012.)

The intent-to-run form also presents a public-relations opportunity for presidental candidates whose supporters are selected as county assembly delegates on caucus night–and then quickly announce en masse that they’ve decided to bind themselves voluntarily to a particular candidate.

Putnam writes on his blog that the March 1 Republican caucuses put a “premium on organizing — turning out as many supporters as possible for the precinct caucuses and then getting those supporters through to the county assemblies. It is only that group of county assembly participants who are eligible to be national convention delegates…. if a campaign is able to corner the market and move through to the next step a bunch of its supporters, that candidate will have a decided advantage in the delegate allocation process. They would dominate the pool of potential candidates and maximize the number of delegates the campaign eventually wins.”

Putnam writes:

Rather than being a state with no preference vote that no one pays attention to, Colorado becomes a real delegate prize for the campaigns who are able to organize there. Those that gain an organizational advantage — and that is much more likely in a low turnout election without the incentive of a presidential preference vote — have a real opportunity to get something out of the Centennial state. It will not necessarily entail candidates coming into the state over the course March and into April (because forcing delegate candidates through to the county assembly level is the true mark of winning there), but it may make the media outlets pay continued attention to Colorado as the process there resolves itself. And since there is no preference vote guiding the delegate allocation process from step to step, a candidate could dominate in Colorado and come out on April 9 with a significant majority of delegates.

…In the conventional sense, candidates will not necessarily come to Colorado to drive up support for a March 1 vote that will not happen. That is doubly true in light of the fact that Colorado shares its precinct caucuses date with primaries and caucuses in 13 other states. Functionally though, with delegates potentially on the line, Colorado is certainly not a non-event.

Colorado Republican Chair Steve House and the RNC apparently affirmed this process here.

So, bottom line, Colorado could see a major fight among the Republican presidential candidates to influence the vote for 34 National-Republican-Convention delegates, who will be selected at the April 9 GOP state convention and April 8 GOP congressional district convention.

Republican sources tell me that only Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are showing any sign of a ground game here in Colorado. But this may change in the coming weeks.

Former CO GOP chair thinks “in some ways” Tancredo wants him back in control of state party

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Informed that radio host Peter Boyles wishes Ryan Call were back in charge of the Colorado Republican Party, former state GOP chair Ryan Call said on KNUS 710-AM Saturday:

Call: “To the extent I’ve ever heard Tom Tancredo acknowledge he’s wrong about something, I think in some ways, he’s done the same,” said Call.

Under fire from Tancredo and others, Ryan Call was not re-elected to lead Colorado Republicans last year. Tancredo was later part of a failed coup-like effort, led by State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, to remove Call’s replacement, Steve House.

On Craig Silverman’s KNUS 710-AM’s morning radio show Saturday, Ryan Call, who lost his bid to fill a House vacancy seat over the weekend, also endorsed Jeb! Bush. (Listen to a compilation of highlights from Call’s radio interview by clicking here.)

Call: “I understand the attraction that some voters have toward [Trump]…unapologetic in his arrogance and pettiness…but, Craig, anger is not a political platform,” Call told Silverman, who’s said he’s leaning toward Trump himself. “…If it were up to me, I’d vote for someone who has a tested true conservative record, someone you can really kick the tires on, who has demonstrated the kind of thoughtfullness and character that America needs. My vote would be for Jeb Bush.”

Ryan Call compared his own approach to politics to that of former GOP governor Bill Owens and former Sen. Hank Brown, saying those two and himself are “cut from the same cloth:”

Call: “Our orientation toward politics is to grow the coalition, even if people don’t agree with us 100 percent of the time,” said Call.

A conservative’s psychoanalysis of Trump conjures up Coffman, who called Obama a “recruiting tool” for terrorists

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Last week, the National Review posted a collection of anti-Trump opinion pieces written by conservatives, like Commentary Editor John Podhoretz, who hammered Trump’s “repellent assertion that the first black president needed to prove to Trump’s satisfaction that he was actually an American.”

Podhoretz: The cultural signposts Trump brandished in the years preceding his presidential bid are all manifestations of the American id—his steak business, his casino business, his green-marble-and-chrome architecture, his love life minutely detailed in the columns of Cindy Adams, his involvement with Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire, and his reality-TV persona as the immensely rich guy who treats people like garbage but has no fancy airs. This id found its truest voice in his repellent assertion that the first black president needed to prove to Trump’s satisfaction that he was actually an American.

In any integrated personality, the id is supposed to be balanced by an ego and a superego—by a sense of self that gravitates toward behaving in a mature and responsible way when it comes to serious matters, and, failing that, has a sense of shame about transgressing norms and common decencies. Trump is an unbalanced force. He is the politicized American id.

When Podhoretz is done hitting Trump, he should turn to Rep. Mike Coffman, who infamously wondered in 2012 whether Obama is an American. Coffman’s id was apparently speaking when he said:

Coffman: “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.”

And then, demonstrating Coffman’s absence of a developed superego, in Podhoretz formulation, Coffman didn’t feel shame for his birther moment in a “mature and responsible way,” offering a scripted and unapologitic apology to 9News Kyle Clark five times in a row.

But, look, it gets worse because Coffman’s id still dominates to this day. This isn’t simply a rehash of one of the stranger apologies in Colorado politics.

Just a couple weeks ago on Facebook, Coffman called Obama a “recruting tool” for terrorists. That’s on the same continuum as his birther comments, which he apologized for.

Coffman: “President Obama wants to close GTMO because he thinks it’s a recruiting tool for terrorists – the real recruiting tool is a President who seems more concerned about protecting the rights of terrorists rather than defeating them and protecting the American people.”

Colffman’s “sense of self” lacks the “sense of shame about transgressing norms and common decencies” that Podhoretz finds absent in Trump.

Fox 31 Denver fills Stokols’ political reporter position

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Joe St. George.

Joe St. George.

In the nine long months after political reporter Eli Stokols left Fox 31 Denver, it looked like the local TV station’s surprising reputation as a go-to source for political news, cultivated by over a decade of obsessive work by Stokols, was going to be completely lost.

Serious politics coverage at Fox 31 essentially vanished overnight. It was an unbelievable fall, and depressing. (Not to say Fox 31 didn’t have some good pieces and journalists, but the unfilled hole was huge.) But on the positive side, it showed the impact one talented reporter can have on a news outlet, especially a TV station, and on an entire state.

That’s why it’s great that Fox 31 has hired a reporter, Joe St. George, to take over Stokols’ political beat, showing that the station’s commitment to politics coverage didn’t start and stop with Stokols–as can be the case at local TV outlets.

Joe St. George arrived at the station last month after covering politics in Virginia for over three years and, before that, for a stint in Iowa. So he’s got nothing comparable to Stokols’ experience, but he seems to be hard-working and, jeez, all of the people of Colorado are glad to see him given the chance, though they don’t know it.

“Joe’s passion is in political reporting,” said Fox 31 News Director Holly Gauntt.  “He did a lot of good political reporting at his former station and has a good reputation there. It’s rare. He’s one of those guys who breathes, eats, lives, sleeps politics, so I snatched him up as soon as I found out about him.”

(more…)

Bartels’ blog: Smart PR? A partisan problem? A new kind of journalism?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

When political reporter Lynn Bartels left The Denver Post last year for a communications job at the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, it appeared she’d left journalism.

But it turns out, maybe not completely—depending on your definition of journalism.

As the communications director for Colorado Republican SOS Wayne Williams, Bartels is writing a blog with some of the same types of stories that you saw her write at The Post and, before that, at the Rocky Mountain News.

Titles of recent Bartels posts, for example, include: “Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser,” “Back by popular demand! Sarah Moss’ State of the Union bingo!,” “More babies! Colorado politicos celebrate!,” “OnSight Public Affairs’ holiday card is outta site,” “Wayne Williams: Colorado secretary of state and good Samaritan,” “Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlines agency’s goals, achievements at SMART act hearing,” and “Sen. Cory Gardner, ‘our environmentalist,’ addresses CACI.”

Some of this is good PR for Williams and his office. Some of it is human-interest journalism. Some of it is soft political reporting.

Regardless, it’s quickly become part of Denver’s journalism mix, in the era of disappearing reporters and starved political junkies.

And Bartels blog comes with a caveat that most other blogging flaks in the world can only dream of, “The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not of the office.”

When she started her new job, Bartels explains, she told her boss, “The Post and the Rocky used to have people assigned to the Secretary of State’s office. And they don’t have that anymore. It’s just part of generic government. Some of this stuff you’re just not going to get promoted, if you don’t promote it yourself.” He signed off on the concept.

But why all the posts that have nothing to do with the SOS office?

(more…)

Is this what MLK would have wanted?

(Um… – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Over the weekend, Colorado GOP Vice Chair Derrick Wilburn Facebooked the photo below from the MLK marade. Willburn, who was elected by to his Republican Party post last year, is the founder of American Conservatives of Color, whose slogan is “Truth Transcends Color.”

Wilburn: A few minutes ago waiting for the MLK March to begin. How many times have you seen two banners like this in the same place at the same time? This is what MLK would have wanted, standing side by side.

Derrick Wilburn's photo.

It looks like a local reporter has the best shot at getting Coffman to talk about Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

After President Obama’s State of the Union Address, KOA host April Zesbaugh gave Rep. Mike Coffman another chance to offer a thought or two about Donald Trump, when she pointed out that Obama had talked “little bit about ignoring political hot air, likely a comment about Donald Trump or maybe Ted Cruz.”

Coffman ignored the opening to talk about Trump, making him possibly the only person in America who has nothing to say about the idiotic billionaire. Coffman has now ducked five chances to condemn/praise/parse Trump (See here, herehere, one below, and one above.).

Perhaps the strangest incident occurred in Washington DC after Trump proposed banning Muslims from America. Other Republicans condemned Trump, but Coffman simply told a Roll Call reporter, “I’m not going to go there. Thanks.” (Coffman had issued a statement on the topic that didn’t mention Trump.)

Seriously, how can you not have anything to say about Donald, even if you’re the lowest informaation voter on Earth?

And putting aside the fact that Trump is the leading GOP prez contender, who’s condemned most every swing voter  in Coffman’s district, the Donald is a totally legitimate topic for Coffman to address.

Some of Coffman’s actual factual positions align with Trump’s (against birthright citizenship, in favor of a worker underclass, against raising debt limit in certain circumstances, and more) Coffman should clarify where he stands vis a vis Donald on these issues.

Why hasn’t Coffman condemned Trump? It’s a serious and puzzling question. Trump represents politics in its rawest and most accessible form.

It’s clear now that Coffman will continue to run from Trump questions until a local reporter, who is in a position to have an exchange with Coffman, insists on answers. With Trump surging and the key caucuses and primaries upon us, I’m looking forward to hearing what Coffman says.

Denver Archbishop: Shun Candidates Supporting Planned Parenthood

(Yeah, and the “War on Women” is a liberal thing — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

 

You wouldn’t know it, because they were essentially ignored by Denver media (except Channel 7, Denver’s ABC affiliate), but thousands of anti-choice protesters rallied on the west steps of the state capitol Saturday in frigid weather, marking the 43 anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

In speeches, spiked with attacks on Planned Parenthood, rally-goers were exorted to take action on “life” issues–banning all abortion and preventing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

The big-cheese speaker at the March for Life event was Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who promised, “We will not be silenced,” after telling the crowd to call and email their state legislators–and to attend Colorado’s March caucuses, where political parties select candidates and hash out party platforms.

“Bombard [legislators] with emails,” Aquila said at one point.

Following the lead of his predecessor, former Dener Archbishop Charles Chaput, Aquila promotes political activism by Catholics. He hasn’t gone so far as Chaput did, recommending that faithful Catholics vote against one presidential candidate (Kerry) and for another (Bush). Aquila was nonpartisan on Saturday, urging the protestors to look at candidates through the filter of “life” issues, without mentioning a political party.

But one of the issues that most clearly divides the two parties these days is abortion, with Democrats mostly being pro-choice and Republicans mostly not. Among the presidential candidates, the division among the two parties is shocking.

So Aquila’s decision to focus the attention of Catholics on “life,” issues, rather than, say immigration, poverty, or climate change, puts him in the pocket of Republicans–especially given that he made no mention of the death penalty on Saturday, which is a big issue here in Colorado. Aquila’s priorities are GOP priorities.

You can see this in Aquila’s attitude toward Planned Parenthood, which was slammed at the rally. Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood’s work has nothing to do with abortion but instead with providing women, many of them low-income, with basic health care and family planning.

So does Aquila think Catholics should support candidates who support Planned Parenthood? For an RH Reality Check post, I asked Aquila this question after the rally.

“No,” he told me,”I believe that we really need to give witness to life, and Planned Parenthood does not give witness to life.”