This morning's Denver Post suggests that Tom Tancredo has injected a racial element into the gubernatorial campaign by inaccurately quoting President Barack Obama as having denigrated "bitter white people."
Tancredo operations manager Cliff Dodge argues that the paper's goal in publishing pieces like these is to "drag the carcass of John Hickenlooper over the finish line."
The Post reports that during Western Slope speeches on Wednesday, Tancredo quoted Obama as having said, "When the going gets tough, when economic times get tough, these bitter white people cling to their guns and Bibles."
Tancredo alludes to this material in his latest TV commercial, which is getting more airtime as the election nears. In the clip, on view below, he connects this line with John Hickenlooper's statement about "backwards thinking" among some members of rural communities on the subject of homosexuality.
Problem is, the actual Obama quote was: "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years... And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Speaking with the Post afterward, Tancredo admitted that he began inserting the reference to white people into speeches after a supporter in Delta incorrectly told him that's what Obama had originally said, adding, "I probably should have checked it out. I was being corrected all over the place. I said, 'OK, I'll just take the most inflammatory one I can think of and accept that it's true.'" But he also maintained that Obama had clearly been talking about white people even if he hadn't used those actual words.
In Dodge's view, Tancredo's frankness in sharing the back story about the reference is one of the reasons he's connected with so many people this election. "It seems to me that he's been the most candid of any candidate on any of these issues," he says. "He's telling people what he thinks, and I think that's what people want to hear these days. The man is an open book."
Could Tancredo's admission that he took a random person at his word about the statement rather than doing his homework make voters fear that, if elected, some of his shooting-from-the-lip bravado could blow off his own foot? "I suppose there's some potential for that," Dodge concedes. "But I think if Tom's whole body of work is viewed with a critical eye, I don't think a lot of people are going to come to that conclusion."
As for the Post, which published a Mike Littwin column attacking Tancredo for the "bitter white people" line in addition to the main news report, Dodge says, "I can't speculate on their motives, but I can interpret what I see. I have my own thoughts about that, as I'm sure everybody else does, too."
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Will items like the latest from the Post stop Tancredo shy of victory? Or will the anti-Democratic Party fervor combine with a plummeting Dan Maes campaign to give Tanc an unexpected win? "When they take the poll on Tuesday," Dodge says, "we'll find that out."
Here's Tancredo's latest ad:
More from our Politics archive: "Tom Tancredo's Dog the Bounty Hunter-Joe Arpaio Grizzly Rose fundraiser photo gallery."