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Tom Tancredo calls Dick Wadhams's criticism of his guv run ultimatum "bulls**t"

There's a lot of bullshit in Colorado politics lately. Mere days after senatorial candidate Ken Buck boasted that he wears cowboy boots "with Weld County bullshit, not D.C. bullshit," Tom Tancredo uses the same word to characterize Republican Party boss Dick Wadhams' criticism of Tancredo's ultimatum to severely damaged Republican candidates Scott McInnis and Dan Maes: Either promise to quit the governor's race if you're behind after winning the August 10 primary, or I'll run against you.

Some highlights of Wadhams' anti-Tancredo diatribe:

• He says Tancredo running as an American Constitution Party candidate for governor would be Republicans' "worst nightmare," and would lead to the election of John Hickenlooper.

• He believes Tancredo is presenting his ultimatum in a "very dishonest way" and is really motivated by "the attention he got during the [2008] presidential campaign... at all costs, he wants to get that national attention again as a third-party candidate."

• He argues that Tancredo backed away from a run for governor last November (after signing on to Scott McInnis's unity platform) because he "didn't have the guts to do it."

After listening to these comments and being asked his opinion about them, Tancredo jokingly replies, "Next question." But then he gets serious.

"This is all bullshit, and he knows it," Tancredo allows. "Dick is not a good state party chairman, but he's certainly a good rhetorician. I talked to him a long time ago, and we talked about the things we could do to change the direction of the Titanic that he's now the captain of, and he knows very well that what he said about my motivation is not true. And he knows there's an easy way to get me out of this race.

"If I wanted to, I could simply say, 'I'm going to run.' But I'm doing it a different way, and it's something I think he would relish -- an announcement on the part of the candidates that if they're not ahead in the polls on August 10, they won't pursue" the governor's office.

"That's all I said," Tancredo protests, "and I think he should be talking to the candidates, not the press, about this. His job as a party chairman is to figure out a way to put the best candidates forward, and so far, he's certainly failed at that. I'd suggest to Dick that the best use of his time would be to actually try to get these guys out of the race now."

Why the immediacy, with the primary less than three weeks away?

"Because certainly I and even somebody who would be chosen as the party nominee after August 10 needs every single hour we can get in the preparation of a campaign," he explains. "I've got to raise a lot of money if I'm going to run, and so do they, unless it's somebody like Bruce Benson -- and I don't think that's a realistic option, either. You've got to put an organization together, and if [McInnis and Maes] were to announce now that they wouldn't run if they were behind in the polls, Dick could go to other people and say, 'The chances are really good that these guys aren't running, so let's start thinking about your candidacy and get the wheels in motion.'"

Why not deliver the ultimatum in private -- try to work things out with the McInnis and Maes camps behind the scenes, where your views about their electability couldn't be seen as an attempt on your part to publicly shame them?

Tancredo answers this question with another one: "What makes anybody think that unless they make that commitment in public, they would follow through on it on August 11? I'm asking them to make a public commitment to stick to their word if the criteria is met, and that's all there is to it. I would be history if they would do that. I'd be out of this thing and not running on anybody's ticket, and that would be okay with me."

This comment implies that Tancredo doesn't trust McInnis and Maes to keep their word unless the whole state knows about it. Is that the proper reading? Tancredo's response is succinct: "That's correct."

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By accepting Tancredo's ultimatum, wouldn't McInnis and Maes be putting themselves in the position of looking weak, impotent and ineffectual -- three qualities no politician would want to embrace?

"You say it would be a sign of weakness," Tancredo notes, "but it seems to me that silence is a sign of weakness, because they're afraid they won't be ahead in the polls. So show you've got some guts. Say, 'I'm going to do this [accept the ultimatum], because I believe I'll get the votes necessary to win the primary, and I'll be ahead in the polls after it's over.' And if they're not at that point in time, they've already got a reason to get out."

As for Wadhams' assertion that Tancredo is making his latest move because he's desperate for spotlight time, he says, "I get a lot of attention one way or another. I don't lack for a forum. I have daily radio commentaries, I do lots and lots of speaking events, lots of television programs. So to the extent I need that, I get it -- and if I wanted that, I would have [run for governor] earlier. If I needed the adulation, that would have been a lot easier than this process.

"I'm not kidding you when I tell you I think this is a good thing for the party -- and if Dick really wanted to use this in a positive way, he could. He'd go to these guys and say, 'I think this is a good deal. Take it.' And it is. If you were to ask any of them right now, 'Do you think you're going to be ahead in the polls in late August?,' they'd say, 'Why, sure.' So good -- say it out loud, and if you're not ahead then, get out. What's so tough about that?"

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