Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

John Hickenlooper won't go negative on Tom Tancredo -- but Tancredo does it himself

Democratic gubernatorial nominee John Hickenlooper has kept to his vow to keep his campaign positive. Had he decided to go negative on Tom Tancredo, though, he would have found no shortage of material on the American Constitution Party candidate: Google "Tancredo" and "controversy" and your computer starts smoking.

Back in August 2009, when the Arapahoe County Republican Party roasted Tancredo -- then a former congressman contemplating retirement -- I was one of the panelists who held his feet to the fire. But roasting Tancredo is the easiest gig around: He creates his own material.

My list of the top twelve Tancredo controversies follows. But remember, what some people regard as negative, others consider positive. For example:

1. Tancredo thinks marijuana should be legalized. In fact, during his brief "retirement" when his major project was a think tank, one of its three areas of interest was the legalization of pot.

2. Tancredo wants potential voters to take a civics literacy test. At a Tea Party convention in Tennessee in February, he said that America had "put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House," and suggest that Barack Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country."

3) Had that literacy test been in place, Tancredo might never have been elected to his two terms in the Colorado Legislature, where he was known as one of the "House Crazies," and drove then-Governor Dick Lamm nuts. Later, Lamm and Tancredo would agree on one thing: the dangers of illegal immigration. "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day," Lamm said.

4) After leaving the Statehouse, Tancredo became President Ronald Reagan's regional head of the Department of Education -- which Tancredo suggested be abolished.

5) Almost twenty years after he'd last run for office, Tancredo went for the District 6 seat in Congress, vowing to serve only three terms. He served five.

6) Once in Washington, Tancredo refused to attend a White House party for newly elected Congressmen, saying that Bill Clinton was not "a real president."

7) After George W. Bush became president, Tancredo pronounced that "if the nation suffered another attack at the hands of terrorists able to skirt immigration laws, 'the blood of the people killed' would be on the president's and Congress's hands. After that, Karl Rove, another Colorado native, warned Tancredo to never 'darken the doorstep of the White House.'"

8) In 2006, Tancredo told a Florida talk-show host that if al-Qaeda made a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, an appropriate response would be "taking out" Muslim holy sites -- i.e., bombing Mecca.

9) At a speech in South Carolina, Tancredo was greeted by the tune from "Dixie," and accused of singing along. Tancredo, however, says he only hummed them -- because he didn't know the words.

10) In May, asked if Sonia Sotomayor was a racist, Tancredo said that "certainly her words would indicate that that is the truth" -- and then said that La Raza was "a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses"

11) At Restoration Weekend in South Florida in 2006, Tancredo grabbed headlines when he referred to Miami as a "third-world country."

12) And the controversy that no one will ever forget -- or let Tancredo forget. In 2001, Tancredo hired a contractor to remodel the rec room in his Littleton home -- a contractor who employed illegal immigrants.

There's more, of course, and no matter who's elected governor of Colorado next week, you can be sure that Tancredo will continue to make headlines when he shoots from the lip. Because you can be certain of one thing: When Tancredo is involved, nothing is certain. Take, for example, what he said at the conclusion of that August 2009 roast:

"I must admit to you, I never ever thought I was going to be president of the United States, but I did hope I could accomplish something by that last final act."

Tancredo's next final act? Jumping into the Colorado gubernatorial race.

More from our Calhoun/Wake-Up Call archive: "Tom Tancredo and Geraldo Rivera talk Tea Party -- and illegal immigration."