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Tom Tancredo open to keeping hat out of ring if deal with Scott McInnis can be struck

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A lot's happened in Tom Tancredo's world during the past week.

Last Thursday, Tancredo said in this space, "I fully intend to run" for governor in 2010, adding that he planned to formally announce his intentions once he took care of some housekeeping matters. He also confirmed that he was considering a campaign because his candidate of choice, state senator Josh Penry, had dropped out. And while he didn't take the opportunity to attack Republican frontrunner Scott McInnis, who he's criticized in the past, he said the party was "looking for its soul, and I think it's looking in all the wrong places."

Since then, Tancredo's heard "lots of nice comments" about a potential gubernatorial bid "when I walk through the mall. Although I know that for everybody who comes up and says, 'Go, Tom, go!,' there are probably five people who passed me by saying, 'Go to hell, Tom Tancredo!'" Still, he confirms that he may stay out of the governor's race if conversations he's having with numerous parties, including folks from the McInnis camp, adequately address his concerns about offering a truly conservative agenda.

Reports about these discussions have been circulating in political circles in recent days, with the greatest detail to date appearing in a column by KOA personality Mike Rosen in today's Denver Post.

"We've been friends for many years," Tancredo says about Rosen. "I've taken over for him on his radio show when he's gone, and I always tell people, 'Don't expect too much, because Mike Rosen would never ask anyone to sit in for him if he thought they were better.' He's one smart guy."

Tancredo says Rosen was accurate when describing the process by which McInnis, Penry, Tancredo, Colorado Republican Party boss Dick Wadhams and assorted legislators have been trying to come up with a "unity platform" that will please all parties. However, he notes, "some of the points in the platform he listed have changed."

Here's the roster from Rosen's column:

• A commitment to limit taxes and state spending.

• Rescinding the Ritter executive order unionizing state employees.

• Requiring employers to participate in the federal e-verify program for new hires.

• Establishment of a state "rainy day" fund.

• Responsible development of renewable energy and Colorado's abundant oil and natural gas resources as well as nuclear energy.

• Appointing conservative judges to balance the court and reign in judicial activism.

• Expanding school choice through additional charter schools and education vouchers.

• Reversing property tax and auto registration taxes.

Tancredo doesn't catalog the tweaks other than to say that they "reflect Scott's opinions and the party's. The minute you open this up to other legislators and stuff like that, it begins to change form a little bit" -- and it will likely continue to do so over the next few days. "We're not done yet," he emphasizes. "The McInnis people are still futzing around with it. But if we can stay on track here, we might get it done -- and if we do, we might have an announcement on Monday."

That's hardly a lock, however. "It might fall through at any moment," Tancredo notes. "I don't want to portray it any differently from the way I see it, and I see it as a work in progress."

Why is Tancredo considering such a strategic shift when just last week he seemed so ready to hit the stump?

"You have to understand, I don't want to run for an office in order to get the office," he says. "That's secondary. It's just that the office is where you have to be in order to advance the agenda -- and the agenda is far more important than the office.

"I'm not the kind of person who'd say, 'What do I want to be today? How about the governor?'" he continues. "I don't do that. But I do want to advance a conservative agenda, and if I can advance that agenda by getting out of this race and supporting Scott, I will. And if I can't, I know exactly what I need to do. If it means raising a bunch of money and a nasty primary, well, c'est la vie."

Whatever happens needs to happen quickly, Tancredo feels.

"From my point of view, this needs to be done right away, and I think it will be," he says. "If it looks like we need to spend a little extra time to get to the point where everybody is happy and satisfied and singing 'Kumbaya,' we will. But if I had my druthers, this will happen soon."

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