Last night, Senator Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Ken Buck engaged in their most high-profile debate yet -- and shockingly enough, Bennet spokesman Trevor Kincaid believes his guy handily won the 9News-sponsored event on view below.
Kincaid also talks up forthcoming appearances on Bennet's behalf by Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama -- but when asked if there's a welcome mat out for Barack Obama, too, he answers cautiously.
About the debate, Kincaid says, "It was clear that Buck continues to waiver and flip-flop, trying to walk away from the extreme positions he ran on for two years. He tried to sidestep everything from his position of nation-building in Afghanistan to means-testing for social security."
To underline this point, the Bennet camp has produced a series of side-by-side comment comparisons. They're accessible below as well.
As for Bennet, Kincaid believes "Michael presented common-sense solutions, and those positions helped Michael come out on top."
He hasn't held that position in polls for quite some time. The most recent Rasmussen Reports survey, conducted earlier this month, shows Buck leading 50 percent to 45 percent. But Kincaid senses a shift, and he believes an October 18 appearance by President Bill Clinton will keep things moving in a positive direction.
"President Clinton is coming on the first day of early voting," Kincaid points out, "and we're thrilled to have him here. We're already seeing energy and momentum building every day, and we think President Clinton adds to that momentum."
Granted, last time he weighed in on the Colorado Senate race, Clinton did so in support of Andrew Romanoff, Bennet's Democratic opponent. But to Kincaid, that's ancient history.
"We don't begrudge President Clinton supporting a friend, and we're thrilled to have his support," he says. "Andrew was very quick to throw his support behind Michael earlier, and we're glad for his support as well. The united front is going to be very helpful in the home stretch coming up to election day."
Meanwhile, the Bennet campaign continues to portray Buck as unfriendly to Colorado women, running plenty of commercials pointing out that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Colorado GOP boss Dick Wadhams argues that this shows the Dems' "intellectual bankruptcy," since voters care more about "the economy and taxes and spending." But Kincaid doesn't buy that line.
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"Maybe Dick Wadhams is too busy trying to keep track of Ken Buck's positions, as we all are," he says. "Michael spent all of last week, and the month before that, and the month before that, and the six months before that, talking about the economy, jobs and education, and he's going to be doing that through the election."
At the same time, the Bennet camp is eagerly circulating information about Buck's refusal to prosecute a 2005 rape case. When we wrote about this subject yesterday, only a transcript of Buck's meeting with the victim in the alleged date-rape-type incident was available, with ProgressNow Colorado's Kjersten Forseth saying the decision had been made not to release the audio in order to protect the identity of the woman involved. But today, a clip edited to obscure the woman's voice has been made available to the Huffington Post.
In the meantime, Michelle Obama will join Bennet for a lunch event at noon Thursday in Englewood. "We're thrilled to have the First Lady here," Kincaid enthuses. "She appeals to a wide variety of Coloradans, and her message of insuring that opportunities continue for the next generation is right in line with what Michael's been saying for the past year."
What about Michelle's husband? Plenty of candidates nationwide have been reticent to appear at events with him due to his tumbling popularity numbers. Is the welcome mat out for him, too? Or is Michelle the only Obama with whom Bennet is willing to appear -- unless, that is, Sasha and Malia have an opening in their school schedules?
Kincaid's response: "The White House has been incredibly helpful, and continues to be helpful -- and we welcome their support."
Interpret that as you will -- and then page down to see the Bennet camp's compilation of alleged Buck flip-flops, as well as video clips of the entire debate last night:
Alleged Buck flip-flops, as tracked by the Bennet campaign:
1. Buck Flips On Means Testing Social Security:
THEN: "I'm Not in Favor of Means Testing" for Social Security. [Aaron Harber, Episode 30]
TONIGHT: "We Need Means Testing For Social Security"
2. Buck Rails Against Special Interest Spending, But He Has Requested Millions of Dollars in Earmarks Himself
Buck Bragged About Securing Federal Funds, Saying "I have also worked closely with our Congressional delegation and county commissioners to raise more than $1 million in federal, state and foundation grants." [Carbon Valley Herald, 10/9/08]
Buck Signed the AFP Colorado No Earmarks Pledge. [AmericansforProsperity.org, 2/23/10]
Buck Suggested That if A Senator Doesn't Vote to Ban Earmarks, "Get Them Out of There. It's a Sure Sign They Are Gonna Be Abusing the Earmark Process. Absolutely." [Vail 9/12 Group Event, 3/20/10]
HEADLINE -- GOP Senate Candidate Buck Sought Earmarks for Weld County. [Denver Post, 8/26/10]
HEADLINE -- Pork Critic Sought Grants: GOP Senate Candidate Ken Buck Says He Sees No Contradiction With His Pledge of No Earmarks. [Denver Post, 8/26/10]
Buck Requested At Least $5 Million in Earmarks Despite Signing National "No Earmarks" Pledge. [Denver Post, 8/26/10]
Buck Bragged About I.C.E. Office, Touted Gang Task Force Funded By Federal Earmarks and Grants. [Denver Post, 8/26/10]
HEADLINE - As DA, Buck Went After Earmarks He's Now Railing Against. [Greeley Tribune, 8/26/10]
Buck's Requests for $5 Million in Earmarks "Most Glaring Example" of GOP Making Public Show About Spending, Requesting Federal Funds. [Huffington Post, 8/26/10]
3. On Nation Building in Afghanistan:
THEN: Buck's Earlier Website Version "Said [Buck] Supports a Nation-Building Effort in Afghanistan That Will Take 'At Least 10 Years.'" [Huffington Post, 9/7/10]
TODAY: "We can't nation-build in Afghanistan."
4. On A Supreme Court Litmus Test
THEN: Buck Filled Out Survey Indicating He Would Never Confirm Pro-Abortion Candidates for Supreme Court. [Denver Post, 9/19/10]
On Supporting, then Opposing, Then ??? the Extreme Personhood Amendment:
THEN: "Buck Took Absolutist Positions on Abortion and 'Personhood'" During Primary, Supported Constitutional Ban on Abortion and Ballot Measure That Would Outlaw Birth Control. [Denver Post, 9/19/10]
THEN, AGAIN: Buck Said He Would Vote Against Personhood Amendment. As reported by the Denver Post, "Before the Republican caucuses, Buck answered a Christian family group's questionnaire and said he supported Amendment 62, the "Personhood Amendment," on the Colorado ballot. Buck said Saturday through his campaign spokesman that he will now vote against the measure." [Denver Post, 9/19/10]
"Buck Has Changed His Mind About His Feelings on Personhood Amendment. Again." [Denver Post, The Spot, 9/21/10]
NOW: Buck Now Won't Take a Stand on "Personhood" Amendment.
5. Buck Says he Supports Key Components of Health Care Reform, but Has Called For Repealing It.
Buck: "I Am in Favor of Repealing Health Care." During a July 2010 Senate debate on Fox, Buck said he supported repealing health care reform and introducing free market principles. BUCK (8:52): I am in favor of repealing healthcare. I am in favor of introducing free market principles. I think one of the things I hear around this state consistently from small businesspeople is, they are afraid of expanding because they don't have the certainty that they need to determine how, where they will be in a few years. And if we don't do, if we don't introduce free market principles we will continue to see a growth in government. And frankly the $13 trillion dollar deficit that we have will grow as a result of this Obamacare. [Fox News Debate, 7/23/10]
Buck: I Would Vote to Repeal Health Care and Do Everything I Could to Defund Health Care. During a 2009 candidate forum, Buck said he would repeal health insurance reform and do everything he could to defund the new program. BUCK (22:38): Yes, I would vote to repeal health care and, and do everything I could to defund health care. And yes, I think there are a number things, portability of insurance, tort reform, other things that we need to do, but I think one of the most important lessons we've learned form health care, folks, is that we cannot allow the process to continue the way it is. The $300 million dollar kickback to Mary Landrieu in, in Louisiana, the, the cornhusker kickback to Ben Nelson, the new hospital for Chris Dodd in Connecticut. That is an ugly process. It lacks transparency, it lacks accountability and it's an ugly way to make laws. We need to vote thumbs up or thumbs down based on the merits and not kickbacks [applause]. [Constitutionalist Today Candidate Forum, 3/9/10]
Buck Said the First Law He'd Work to Repeal Was Healthcare. Asked "What will be the first law you work to appeal?", Buck answered "Usually people ask what the first law is that I'm going to introduce. Umm, where do you start? I think healthcare is a good first." [Arapahoe County Meet & Greet, 6/3/10]
6. Renewable Energy Standard
THEN: Buck Opposed Renewable Energy Standards
Buck Opposed Renewable Energy Standards. According to the Denver Post, "Republicans say they are against another major piece of legislation involving new taxes and heavy regulation, in the wake of expensive, complex bills reforming health care and Wall Street. Both Norton and Buck said in a debate Friday that they oppose government trying to pick one source of energy over another by setting renewable standards." At the Debate, Buck said "I don't believe in artificially manipulating the marketplace to say that, that we have to have so much of our energy produced by any, any particular type of energy including renewables. I think what we do is we pick winners and losers from government." [Denver Post, 7/26/10; YourShow Debate, 7/22/10]
Buck Said Renewable Energy Standard Would Hurt Our Economy in Colorado. In an interview with John Harwood, Buck was asked "In Colorado, they've approached the issue with renewable portfolio standards. And when those standards were passed, utilities exceeded the requirements, s-so that they've been tightened a couple of times. Doesn't that show that if you send signals to the market about things that you want to encourage and discourage, that business will adapt and it won't hurt the economy?" Buck responded, "Yeah, I, I don't know that we can draw the conclusion at this point that it hasn't hurt the economy. I think that in, in the long run, manipulating the, the market as they have done is going to increase energy costs and hurt Colorado's economy." He was then asked "So you think what Colorado has done on portfolio standards with utilities has hurt the economy, will hurt the economy?" Buck said "I think it will hurt the economy, ultimately. I think that we need to have a free-market approach towards energy. And I think that we need to stop picking winners and losers in that marketplace. And, and I think that setting environmental standards is one thing, and having different energy sources achieve those standards is, is great. But when you start picking them and, and demanding that at least ten percent or twenty percent or twenty-five percent of energy comes through renewable sources, I think that's wrong." [Interview with John Harwood, 9/10/10]
TODAY: "I support a standard."
Watch last night's debate below:
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