Tim Kaine: The Better Hickenlooper?

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The New York Times reports on the selection of Sen. Tim Kaine as Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton’s running-mate: beating out a number of other “finalist” contenders including Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado:

Hillary Clinton named Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia to be her running mate Friday, selecting a battleground-state politician with working-class roots and a fluency in Spanish, traits that she believes can bolster her chances to defeat Donald J. Trump in November.

Mrs. Clinton’s choice, which she announced via text message to supporters, came after her advisers spent months poring over potential vice-presidential candidates who could lift the Democratic ticket in an unpredictable race against Mr. Trump…

Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton, who told PBS that she was “afflicted with the responsibility gene,” avoided taking a chance with a less experienced vice-presidential candidate and declined to push the historic nature of her candidacy by adding another woman or a minority to the ticket.

Instead, the campaign, which had become concerned about its deficit with white men, focused on Mr. Kaine and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and looked more closely at Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Tim Kaine is in many ways a safe pick for Clinton, being a relatively moderate white male politician in a key swing state. It’s true that those descriptors could also apply to our own Gov. Hickenlooper, although we’d say excepting Hickenlooper’s soft spot on energy issues he’s probably more of a “progressive” than Kaine is. With Clinton expected to run strongly to the middle in a bid to pick up support from Republicans who cannot bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump, Kaine can be regarded as a “ticket balancer” who will make the choice of Hillary more palatable.

Bottom line: this may not be the more exciting choice for the Democratic base, but Kaine is arguably closest to what Hillary needs to close the deal: with the broadest possible range of American voters.

Hickenlooper book doesn’t convey just how good journalism has been to him

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

In his new autobiography, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offers lots of kind thoughts about journalism, which has served him well, but he doesn’t give the Rocky Mountain News the credit it deserves for launching his political career.

If you were around in 2003, you know that an early Rocky endorsement of Hick was essential to his second-place finish in the Denver mayoral primary, setting him up to easily defeat then city auditor Don Mares in a runoff election.

I documented the editorial’s unbelievable impact a few years ago, collecting quotes from numerous campaign staff and politicos about the importance of the editorial.

Even Hick told me, “I could not have possibly won without that endorsement.” His former wife Helen Thorpe called it a “game changer.”

But Hick’s autobiography gives it short shrift. The book calls the endorsement “glowing” and, in passing, “campaign-altering.” And recounts the strategic plan to land it.

Hick also provides an excerpt of the editorial, written by Rocky editorial page editor Vincent Carroll.

But the book doesn’t adequately convey just how much legitimacy and fuel the Rocky’s endorsement gave Hickenlooper’s fledgling campaign at the time.


Cynthia Coffman On The GOP Platform: “I Am Ashamed”

Here’s a clip we didn’t want to get lost in the noise surrounding this week’s now-concluded Republican National Convention: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, speaking at the American Unity Fund’s “Big Tent Brunch” Wednesday:

While making an attempt to differentiate between her professional responsibilities as the state’s chief law enforcement officer and her personal views,  AG Coffman offers one of the strongest condemnations we’ve seen to date by a high-ranking Republican official of her party’s official platform as adopted this week in Cleveland. This year’s GOP platform was distantly to the right of the mainstream on a host of social wedge issues, including statements of opposition to most of the gains LGBT Americans have made in recent years.

We’ve certainly had our criticisms of Cynthia Coffman, but her sincerity in this moment is above reproach. The fact that this year’s Republican platform does represent at least a large segment of the party rank-and-file shows how great the challenge of any Republican seeking to moderate the party’s position on these issues really is. What will be left of the Republican coalition should Cynthia’s personal views on LGBT rights prevail in the future?

Because with all due respect, it’s too late for 2016.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 22)

Get More SmarterGoodbye, Cleveland; hello, Philadelphia. 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.


► Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination for President on Thursday to wrap up the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Trump delivered a very long speech that seemed intended to scare voters more than inspire them to jump onboard the Big Orange Bus, as the Washington Post explains:

The language he used was as dark and ominous as in any acceptance speech in recent memory, and what he promised to fix was a mess that he laid directly at the feet of Clinton, the former secretary of state and wife of former president Bill Clinton, as well as at the feet of President Obama.

Running through a litany of problems in the Middle East that have happened over the past seven-plus years, Trump said of his rival: “The legacy of Hillary Clinton is death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”…

…Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, had promised earlier in the week that Trump would campaign on a theme of law and order, a theme that was largely unspoken through much of the early months of Trump’s candidacy.

On Thursday, Trump embraced that message in the opening minutes of his speech, asserting that this is a “moment of crisis” for the country that threatens “our very way of life.” He painted a picture of an America out of control, with rising crime in big cities, police being shot and illegal immigrants streaming across the border.

“Beginning on January 20th of 2017, safety will be restored,” he said.

In a separate story about Trump’s acceptance speech, James Hohmann of the Washington Post summed up the remarks thusly:

Trump essentially used the most important speech of his campaign – and perhaps political career – to yell fire in a crowded theatre.

The Associated Press did some fact-checking on Trump’s acceptance speech, pointing out several problems with his statements on the economy, immigration, and — of course — Hillary Clinton.


► With the Republican Norovirus Convention coming to an end in Cleveland, John Frank of the Denver Post notes the continued defiance from Colorado delegates:

Colorado’s delegates remain reluctant to support Donald Trump, which is to say most of them will vote for the Republican nominee despite their bad history.

This is what it looked like Thursday night —  Donald Trump hit one of his big applause lines in his acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention and his screaming fans jumped to their feet.

The Colorado delegation, for the most part, remained in their seats. Some clapped. Others sat arms crossed.

“Look at stubborn Colorado,” a Georgia delegate and Trump campaign surrogate snorted from behind the delegation’s seats.

Chris Cillizza of “The Fix” offers up his Winners and Losers from Day Four of the RNC.


► It appears increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will name Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. From Politico:

Hillary Clinton’s veepstakes is ending the way it began: with the humble-but-sturdy Tim Kaine sitting at the top of her list.

After an extensive, months-long process during which the campaign considered a host of different options — even vetting a serious candidate from outside the political arena — the squeaky-clean Virginia senator, whose biggest liability to emerge was that he was boring, is emerging as Clinton’s top choice. Kaine has been urged along by two men familiar with the demands of the job: President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton, those close to the process say.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


The Final Rose: “Bachelor Ben” Won’t Run in HD-4 After All

Breaking news this morning from Joe St. George at Fox 31:

Donald Trump, Ben Higgins.

Donald Trump, Ben Higgins.

Thus ends the not-quite-weeklong State House candidacy of Ben “The Bachelor” Higgins. For voters in North Denver’s HD-4, this also means that there will be only one reality TV star on the ballot in the fall.

Higgins may be withdrawing from the race in part because of a potential electioneering communications problem related to a reality TV show (“Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After”) that ABC would have been shooting during the campaign, although you would think the Republican consultants who talked Higgins into running would have figure this out beforehand. Perhaps more likely, Higgins finally realized that running as a Republican in the top-performing Democratic House District in the entire state was a fool’s errand no matter what reality television show you hail from.

Dr. Chaps Says Pence “Personally” Helped with Pray-in-Uniform Effort

Klingenschmitt on GOP vice presidential candidate Pence

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reporters looking for local hooks to Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence may be interested in a Facebook post from former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs), in which he wrote that Pence helped him demand that military chaplains, like Klingenschmitt, be allowed to conduct Christian services in uniform.

Klingenschmitt wrote that Pence  “personally helped me get 70 signatures on a letter to the President demanding we let military chaplains pray ‘in Jessus’ name.'”

In the Facebook post, Klingenschmitt, who goes by Dr. Chaps, claims to have met Pence “walking the halls of Congress in 2005.”

Klingenschmitt did not immediately return a call seeking details.

The pray-in-uniform campaign, which was assisted by Pence, essentially launched Klingenschmitt’s career as a Republican gadfly and social-conservative activist, anchored by his “Pray in Jesus Name” podcast.

Last year, Klingenschmitt said Pence “did the right thing” by signing an Indiana RFRA law allowing businesses to discriminate against gays. Listen to Klingenschmitt’s podcast on the topic here.

“I discern the spirit of god on Mike Pence who is standing up for righteousness,” said Klingenschmitt at 6:35.

Klingenschmitt said that the “gay left” was lying in stating that the law allows discrimination. After a national outcry, Pence revised tha law.

Klingenschmitt is widely known for his right-wing comments and actions, including his alleged exorcism on a lesbian soldier, during which he claims to have said, “You foul spirit of lesbianism, this woman has renounced you, come out of her in Jesus’ name.

Correction: Klingenschmitt is not a former lawmaker, as an earlier version of this post stated. He gave up his state house seat to run for the state senate, but he lost. His term ends in January.

Friday Open Thread

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me.”

–Ray Bradbury

Details of Trump’s Acceptance Speech Begin to Leak Out

Donald Trump will formally accept the Republican Presidential nomination tonight in Cleveland.

Donald Trump will formally accept the Republican Presidential nomination tonight in Cleveland.

As Eli Stokols reports for PoliticoDonald Trump will try to go the “everyman” route in his speech tonight accepting the Republican nomination for President:

Trump declares “I am your voice” throughout the speech.

Blending Nixonian imagery of a dark, divided America and a messianic self-conception of himself as a great leader, the 70-year-old billionaire will accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination and declare himself to be the only candidate capable of solving the country’s problems.

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump says, according to the draft, time-stamped Thursday afternoon. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

Trump’s speech, which one campaign source said was “being guarded like the Colonel’s secret recipe,” should offer a cleaner, crisper articulation of his most deeply held policy positions — his opposition to free trade, his commitment to securing the country’s borders and cutting off the flow of undocumented immigrants and his commitment to strengthening the country’s military and giving more resources to local law enforcement agencies…

Earlier this week, Trump told Bill O’Reilly of Fox News that his acceptance speech was “going to be a relatively long speech,” which is a weird thing to admit if you are trying to entice people to pay attention. The final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was scheduled to begin at 5:10 pm (MT); when Trump will take the microphone, and when he will finish, is anyone’s guess.

Woods’ Anti-Buckpedal Dance Deserves Media Scrutiny

Woods shares video opposing abortion for incest

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Sen. Laura Woods continues to differentiate herself from Colorado Republicans, like U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, who’ve tried to disavow their extreme anti-choice records–or dodge questions about abortion.

Woods, on the other hand, has embraced a personhood abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape and incestthroughout her political career, starting in the 2014 primary and general election and continuing at the Capitol, where she not only sponsored a abortion-ban legislation but also a bill requiring women to be offered an ultrasound prior to having an abortion (and also to wait 24 hours before having the procedure).

Today, as in July 21, 2016, the stakes are higher than ever. Woods’ district will likely determine control of Colorado state government, and Woods isn’t doing the Buckpedal–or whatever you want to call the dance senatorial candidate Ken Buck, Gardner and Coffman have performed as they tried to distance themselves from right-wing positions they’d taken during their careers.

Woods, a Republican from Westminster/Arvada, isn’t trying to hide her opposition to all abortion, even for incest, even though political observers say it will hurt her in November.

Take, for example, the video Woods shared on Facebook this week from LiveAction, a anti-choice group.

It shows a woman who’s asked the question, “Do you support aborting the child if it was a case of incest?” (at 2:55 here)

“Yeah,” she replies.

Then the woman is pictured watching a video of an abortion, which convinces her that abortion should not be allowed in cases of incest.

Woods does not return my calls, so I can’t talk to her about the video or whether she thinks her no-compromise stance against abortion, even for incest, will help her hold back a challenge from pro-choice Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in November.

But, judging from other interviews, it appears that Woods thinks she need not take middle-of-the-road positions to win in her swingiest of swing districts, where she won by 650 votes in the Republican wave year of 2014. She’s vowed to stand by her conservative principles.

Woods’ anti-Buckpedal dance, which you could call a form of political chest thumping, deserves more media scrutiny than it’s getting.

The Ties that Bind: Coffman Lashed Firmly to Trump

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Tonight in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump will formally accept the GOP nomination for President (unless he doesn’t, which would be really interesting). Colorado Democrats aren’t waiting for Trump to make his intentions official to start lashing the GOP nominee — and his litany of questionable statements and policy ideas — to the side of Colorado Republican candidates such as Rep. Mike Coffman  (R-Aurora).

As Ernest Luning writes for the Colorado Statesman:

State Democrats launched an attack tying U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday — just hours before the former reality TV star is set to accept the GOP nomination — but Coffman says he’s the only candidate in the race who will stand up to whoever wins the presidency.

“Congressman Coffman has not only pledged to support Donald Trump,” the Democrats’ website charges, citing a comment made by a campaign spokeswoman on the day after the Iowa caucuses, “he has spent his entire political career championing the type of reckless, divisive and discriminatory agenda that created Donald Trump.”

Both sides in the hotly contested 6th Congressional District race — Coffman is facing a challenge by state Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora — have been treating Trump like kryptonite, with Democrats eager to lash Trump to Coffman, while Coffman has been distancing himself from the real estate mogul and some of his more controversial statements.

Much like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), Coffman is clearly trying to distance himself from a nominee who could be more toxic to down ballot races than any Presidential candidate in recent memory. On more than one occasion, Coffman has quite literally run away from reporters asking him about Trump. Unfortunately for Coffman — as is the case with Gardner as well — it is already a matter of public record that Coffman will support “the Republican nominee” for President. Here’s what Coffman campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm said about Coffman’s support for the Republican Presidential nominee back in February:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes.”

No matter what Coffman says to the contrary about Trump, this particular ship has long since sailed. If Coffman doesn’t explicitly state himself that Strohm was wrong in saying that her boss would “obviously” support the Republican nominee, it doesn’t really matter what else he says about Trump. Coffman and Gardner can hem and haw about Trump every chance they get — but they have both already answered the only question that matters in this regard. Everything else, as we said with Gardner, is just semantics.


The Remarkable Conflict of Interest at the Colo. Springs Gazette

Wayne and Dede Laugesen

Wayne and Dede Laugesen

Journalists from mainstream media outlets are often harangued for showing some form of “bias” or conflict of interest in their reporting or writing. Accusations of bias appear often in the aftermath of political reporting, though such charges are often levied just as readily at sports and general news stories (supporters of sports teams in the Western U.S. love to claim that reporters across the country participate in an “East Coast Media Bias” that does injustice to their favorite teams).

In most cases, “bias” depends primarily on the perspective of the accuser and is often misguided or misinterpreted. Stories can be innocently edited to remove important details long after a reporter finishes writing, and incorrect facts or quotes may appear by accident rather than malice. Journalists are also asked to disassociate themselves from any personal beliefs or opinions, which is often harder said than done; as much as reporters and editors may try to be unbiased, it is important to remember that they are all (mostly) human beings who have their own inherent perspectives that can be hard to separate consciously.

But sometimes, bias and conflict of interest does occur. Occasionally, conflicts are easy to uncover and impossible to ignore — as the Colorado Springs Independent notes about the Colorado Springs Gazette and editor Wayne Laugesen:

On Sunday and Tuesday, July 17 and 19, the Gazette again editorialized in support of Darryl Glenn, county commissioner and GOP nominee for U.S. Senate. The editorial was signed by the Gazette editorial board, of which Wayne Laugesen, the editorial page editor, is a member. But it failed to disclose Laugesen’s wife, Dede Laugesen, owns Windhover Media, which was paid $3,147 in consulting fees and expenses by Glenn’s campaign in January 2015.

We asked Wayne Laugesen to comment but didn’t hear back by our press time.

Media Matters has more details on this pretty blatant conflict of interest at the Gazette, with numerous examples of the Gazette praising El Paso County Commissioner and Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn without disclosing this conflict.

You may argue whether or not Gazette editor Wayne Laugesen should be signing off on editorials that offer such praise of a candidate who has paid his wife, Dede Laugesen, for consulting work. But at the very least, the Gazette should run some sort of disclosure along with any editorial that prominently features Glenn’s name.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 21)

Get More SmarterThe norovirus celebration in Cleveland comes to an official end tonight. 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.


► Former Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as the biggest story from Day Three of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, overshadowing an evening that was supposed to belong to Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. The big news from Cruz was his pointed refusal to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for President, a gambit that appears to be backfiring already. From the Washington Post:

Ted Cruz is on the defensive after he gambled his political career on refusing to endorse Donald Trump, with key allies turning on him and members of his home-state delegation questioning his motives.

After his dramatic prime-time speech here last night to the Republican convention, after which he left the stage to loud boos and was then refused entry into an angry Sheldon Adelson’s suite, the runner-up for the nomination came under friendly fire during a surreal Texas delegation breakfast.

As some chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump,” Cruz argued that the less courageous route would have been to skip the convention. He said he called Trump three days ago to say he wouldn’t endorse him. “Why not,” someone yelled from the crowd. “I’m happy to answer that, but I won’t engage in a screaming fight,” the senator replied…

…Another Texan asked him how he could go back on his pledge, made during a Fox News debate last summer in the very arena where he delivered his speech last night, to support whomever wins the GOP nomination. Cruz said Trump “abrogated” the pledge with “personal” attacks on his wife’s looks and by suggesting that his dad was somehow involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “I’m not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” he said.

Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump is obviously a longer-term political gamble that assumes Trump will lose badly in the General Election to Democrat Hillary Clinton. A likely Presidential candidate again in 2020, Cruz is also hoping that Republicans either forget his dismissal of the GOP nominee or somehow come to view the move as a principled political stance rather than a selfish grab for the spotlight. We may get the answer to this question fairly soon; much depends on whether or not Cruz’s non-endorsement actually moves the needle in a negative way for Trump or is generally ignored by GOP voters.


► Donald Trump will accept the Republican nomination for President tonight at the RNC in Cleveland (theoretically, at least). The success of the Convention in general may hinge on Trumps’ performance.


► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is not likely to be named as Hillary Clinton’s running mate on a Democratic ticket this fall. From the Denver Post:

Hillary Clinton may name her choice for vice president as early as Friday, and despite repeated flirtations, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is not expected to propose to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Instead, three other Democrats — U.S. Sen. Timothy Kaine of Virginia, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Labor Secretary Tom Perez — emerged this week as more likely picks to join the Clinton ticket.

Rumors about a potential Vice Presidential slot for Hickenlooper have been ongoing for months now, reaching their peak last week after Hickenlooper met with Hillary at her home in Washington D.C. We can’t say we’re surprised by this — while Hick was certainly in the discussion at some point, there was never any strong indication that he had cracked the Top 3 on Clinton’s wish list. On the plus side for Hickenlooper and his supporters, it seems very likely that the Governor could end up with a Cabinet appointment in a potential Clinton administration.


Get even more smarter after the jump…