In the “You’re Not From Around Here” lesson for today, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer released his first TV ad bragging about his close ties to Colorado – using the visual backdrop of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley. The state Democratic Party rushed to respond, noting that “every real Coloradoan” [sic] knows that the mountain is not “Pike’s Peak” [sic], as Schaffer had suggested. Just after 4 p.m., Schaffer’s ads were pulled.
In the ad, which was scheduled to run in the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction markets, Schaffer waxes on about how he proposed to his wife on the top of Pikes Peak, which is the easternmost fourteener in the United States and the inspiration of Katharine Lee Bates’ hymn America the Beautiful. One of Schaffer’s daughters attends the Air Force Academy, which is not in Alaska, but in Colorado Springs; his other four children, including two grade-schoolers, also live in Colorado.
“Colorado is my life,” Schaffer proclaims, shortly before a voiceover delivers the message that the former Republican congressman who lives in Fort Collins is “the change Colorado needs.”
At 3 p.m., the Colorado Democratic Party issued a press release, highlighting the fact that the Denver Post had caught the Mt. McKinley error (as had other bloggers).
“Schaffer launched a new television ad today in which he touts his supposedly strong Colorado roots, noting that he proposed to his wife on Pike’s Peak [sic], a picture of which he nods to over his shoulder in the ad,” according to the press release, issued by Democratic Communications Director Lauren Rose.
“The only problem?” Rose continued. “The mountain shown in the ad is actually Mt. McKinley, which according to Google Maps, the Rand McNally Road Atlas, and every real Coloradoan [sic], is not actually located in Colorado.”
Um, the only problem with this is, following Rose’s logic, every “real” Coloradan knows that the only appropriate spelling of Coloradoan is when referencing the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper. (For a complete discussion on exactly this topic, check out Colorado Confidential’s story that appeared last Aug. 21.
In addition, though Pikes Peak — named after the explorer and soldier Zebulon Pike — used to be spelled Pike’s Peak, the name was changed to “Pikes Peak” after the U.S. Board on Geographic Names recommended against the use of apostrophes in names in 1891. In addition, the Colorado Legislature passed a law mandating the spelling of “Pikes Peak” in 1978.
Contacted at the phone number listed on the press release, Rose groaned when alerted to the typos. “Thanks for pointing this out,” she said, not very convincingly.
For the record, the Democratic communications director is originally from Texas.
And, for the record, Bob Schaffer is originally from Ohio.
An hour after Rose’s press release went out, Schaffer’s “Colorado is my life,” ad with the Mt. McKinley-in-Alaska backdrop, was “no longer available” for viewing on YouTube.
Cara DeGette is the editor of Colorado Confidential and a fourth-generation Coloradan. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org