From a style perspective, Ken Buck acquitted himself well in his nationally televised debate with Senator Michael Bennet on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday. He came across as forceful and direct, in contrast to Bennet's occasionally halting hemming and hawing.
But Buck made the key mistake of giving the Bennet camp a headline by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.
It's not as if host David Gregory maneuvered Buck into making this gaffe: The Republican nominee managed to do so all by his lonesome. Here's the exchange from the transcript:
MR. GREGORY: And Mr. Buck I want to start with you. The issue of gays in our country, in a debate last month you expressed your support for "don't ask, don't tell," which we talked about with Mr. Gibbs, and you alluded to lifestyle choices. Do you believe that being gay is a choice?
MR. BUCK: I, I, I think that birth has an influence over like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you, you have a choice.
Bennet supporters wasted no time making hay of this remark -- one that may energize Democratic voters but probably do little to water down Buck's support. Below, see a release from the progressive Campaign for a Strong Colorado group immediately after a video of the Sunday session; the debate starts about halfway through the clip.
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Campaign for a Strong Colorado release:
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Buck's Comments on Gays One More Example of Extremism
GOP U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck's comments on Sunday morning's "Meet the Press" comparing homosexuality with alcoholism demonstrate once again that he holds beliefs that are out of Colorado's mainstream.
Buck told moderator David Gregory that he believes being homosexual is a choice and "birth has an influence of it, like alcoholism and some other things. But basically, I think you have a choice."
"Add this comment to the many others we have heard from him rape and incest, on high heels, on the 17th Amendment, and cutting education. He just can't help himself. This extremism clearly runs deep in him. Give him some time to think about it and he'll be trying to retract this statement too," said Ellen Dumm, executive director of Campaign for A Strong Colorado, a coalition of nine progressive organizations.
"Ken Buck's comments are outrageous, extreme, and out-of-touch with everyday Coloradans," said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado. "And they are contrary to the opinions of every major medical and mental health association. Instead of focusing on common values of respect for all people, Buck is spewing divisive, extreme rhetoric. His claim that homosexuality is a choice is yet another example of his extreme views falling out of step with the majority of Coloradans."
"This is a man who denies the science of climate change too," said Myrna Poticha, Clean Water Action Colorado. "Ken Buck's extremist statements continue to offend mainstream Coloradans. We need a senator who is inclusive and works to protect the people and the environment of Colorado, not one who divides us and pits us against each other."
More from our Politics archive: "Ken Buck spokesman: Rape case stories smears that may scare women away from reporting."