Mike Lawrence: Sampling campaign missives
The politics of attacking your attacker's attack ads
Whenever I feel amazed by the flood of e-mails pouring into my iMac, I think of the pope.
That man must get more letters than Bo Jackson in high school.
After a recent speech in which he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who suggested the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad were “evil and inhuman,” Pope Benedict XVI received a storm of angry letters from Muslim communities around the world.
My paltry in-box, as a reporter in the heat of campaign season, pales by comparison. But I do get quite a lot of letters, press releases, accusations and outcries. The amount is far too many to write stories about every day, but enough to warrant – you guessed it – the time-honored indulgence of writers everywhere, the “notes column.”
Here is a sampling of political missives whizzing through Colorado computer cables lately:
One of the letters sent to the pope was from U.S. Rep Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a Republican and outspoken advocate for immigration reform. As reported in the Rocky Mountain News, Tancredo encouraged Pope Benedict XVI not to apologize for his comments. Tancredo’s letter angered Nayyera Haq, the 24-year-old communications director for U.S. Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat who currently is serving our Third Congressional District and is running for re-election against Cortez businessman Scott Tipton.
Haq is Muslim. In a personal response to Tancredo, Haq called Tancredo’s words “hateful” and said he is “knowingly creating a more dangerous environment for all of us.”
Tancredo demanded an apology from Salazar, who has declined to comment on the issue. Tipton’s campaign also jumped into the fray. Dirk Hallen, Tipton’s campaign manager, sent a message late last week demanding that Salazar “rein in out-of-control staff.” The message read, in part: “Whether John likes it or not, Ms. Haq is his spokeswoman and he cannot escape responsibility for her comments made to members of the press. Everyone is entitled to free speech; however, John needs to realize that the soapbox Ms. Haq was lecturing a sitting member of Congress from was his own. The people of the Third Congressional District deserve to know if John Salazar agrees with his communications director. After all, taxpayer dollars pay her salary,” Tipton said.
The Cortez Republican visits Steamboat Springs Saturday, for a GOP rally on the Routt County Courthouse lawn.
In the governor’s race, campaign staffs for Democrat Bill Ritter and Republican Bob Beauprez have been trading accusations of inaccurate television ads. On Saturday, Ritter staffer Evan Dreyer wrote that “Denver-based TV station KUSA is requiring a Republican campaign committee to re-edit a negative attack ad against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter and remove misleading information.”
“Bill Ritter’s record as Denver’s District Attorney is certainly open to scrutiny during this campaign,” Ritter’s campaign manager, Greg Kolomitz, said. “But when Congressman Beauprez, the Trailhead Group, Coloradans for Justice or any other political group mangles the truth, we will demand that they be held accountable and that the record is set straight.”
Beauprez’s campaign is making the same demand. Tuesday, Beauprez staffer John Marshall sent a message stating: “CBS affiliate KCNC Channel 4 in Denver, as well as the Denver Post, found Denver lawyer Bill Ritter’s latest attack ad contains “false” information, prompting the Beauprez for Governor campaign to again call for the illegal ad to be pulled off the air.”
Marshall began contesting the ad Friday, stating the ad incorrectly says Beauprez is responsible for an ad actually funded by a 527 group. Marshall’s Friday message contained this interesting statement: “Instead of taking responsibility for letting a perpetrator get off easy after she killed a little girl, Bill Ritter has launched a sleazy, dishonest new attack ad,” Marshall said.
On a local note, kudos to my neighbor on Third and Oak, who has numerous campaign signs on his lawn, including signs for both contestants in the county commissioner’s race. When I asked him about it, my neighbor said: “I like them both. I want to give all of the candidates publicity.”
A man after my own heart.
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