Candidate’s Iraq trip still front and center of CD-2 campaignSo … Jared Polis’ trip to Iraq: Humanitarian mission or campaign tactic?
The question is partially answered in the first television campaign advertisement of the of the ’07-’08 season, in which Polis highlights “the use of mercenaries in Iraq and the need to end the war.”
At the end of the 30-second spot – the part where he admits that he’s Jared Polis and that he approved this spot – the 2nd Congressional District Democratic hopeful is standing on an Iraqi street with a fully armed U.S. soldier moving away in the background. So the trip was at least political enough that Polis planned the end of the spot in Iraq and filmed it while he was still there.*
Polis announced the campaign spot today in a news release. “I went to Iraq to learn about the situation firsthand and I came back knowing that it’s time to end this war,” Polis said in the release. “While war-profiteering corporations line their pockets, our soldiers are dying every day. My position is: We should have never gone to war and it’s time to put an end to this unjust war.”
Mary Alice Mandarich, campaign manager for CD-2 opponent Joan Fitz-Gerald, said:
“I think the pretext of humanitarian mission goes out the window. If you wanted to go to Iraq, go to Iraq. But you should be truthful about who paid for it and what the real purpose was. And it was political. Stand up and say that … the ad today proves it was political.”
But the Polis campaign says it has never denied that the trip was at least partly political.
Campaign manager Wanda James said:
“We’ve answered that. Part was a personal contribution by Jared, and part was paid for by the campaign.”
James wouldn’t say, however, in what proportions the money was personal or campaign. The information will be available when the campaign files its spending and contribution report at the end of the month, she said.
If you follow the dueling media releases over the last six weeks or so, you can be forgiven for thinking that the only issue in the CD-2 race is Iraq.
But despite the emphasis given to it in the media, the candidates say that in face-to-face meetings, voters are interested in issues besides Iraq.
Lynea Hansen, campaign manager for the third CD-2 hopeful, Will Shafroth, said people also want to know about economic issues, especially health care and social security.
“If you read the Aspen newspaper from yesterday, Will was up there last night. They were talking about myriad issues: health care, the environment, education, economy. When we’re talking for the voters and not just the press, these are the issues they’re talking about.
Asked if the Shafroth campaign had done any polling they could talk about, Hansen said the campaign didn’t discuss polling publicly. Asked then if they had done any polling, she declined to discuss it.
Both the Polis and Fitz-Gerald campaigns said they hadn’t done any polling recently.
* This article originally incorrectly said that Polis hired a camera crew in Iraq. He didn’t, Campaign manager Wanda James said it was simply a hand-held camera without a crew.