Creationism question evolves into a campaign controversy for Michael Hancock

In the beginning, Michael Hancock had a very good start to Thursday: Coming off a smooth performance in a

bumpy mayoral debate

, he survived an appearance on Peter Boyles's show and then learned he was ahead of Chris Romer in two polls --

one by RBI,

one by his

own pollster.

But then the creation question came to smite him.

For weeks, there have been rumors that Hancock does not believe in evolution, rumors fueled by a debate at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, back when the mayoral race was still packed with a lineup of all creatures great and small. Asked if he believed in evolution, Hancock said that he believed in God.

His campaign later said he didn't have enough time to fully answer -- but he didn't have any more time at last night's debate at East High School sponsored by the Denver Democrats, when, in a lightning round that only allowed yes or no answers, the candidates were asked "Do you believe creationism and intelligent design should be taught in public schools?"

Romer said "no." Hancock said "yes."

This time, Hancock misunderstood the question, his campaign says, and released this statement from Hancock to clarify his position:

"While I am a man of great faith, I believe Creationism and Intelligent Design are religious beliefs that have no place in a public school curriculum. The best place for religion to be taught is at home or place of worship."

Romer's campaign clearly understood that whatever Hancock meant to say, his answer provided an opening, and released this late last night:

"We believe science should be taught in science classes, especially as we strive to improve math and science proficiency among Denver students. Both candidates were asked this question clearly by the moderator. Chris Romer said no. Michael Hancock said yes."

Heaven help us! If this is the beginning of the really tough campaigning, just imagine how rough the next 25 days could get...

Who would make the better ringmaster in the circus that is Denver? See Kenny Be's "Mayoral Menagerie."

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