Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, on a U.S. tour backing pro-choice candidates, called out Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Ken Buck as having extreme views not consistent with Colorado values. But she said voter turnout, not a shift in those values, would determine the outcome of today’s election. Buck’s campaign today dismissed Richards’ comments and said she was just dishing dirt for the Democratic machine.
Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the turnout of women voters could be the deciding factor in Colorado’s race for U.S. Senate, where she says women are frightened of Buck’s views on women’s health. Her organization supports incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
“Ken Buck is really out of touch with where I think mainstream voters are,” Richards said.
“If he is elected, and this is a very competitive race as you know, I think that voters are going to be surprised on just how extreme he is on women’s health and women’s rights.”
Pointing to Buck’s opposition to abortion in cases including rape and incest, Richards said Colorado is a moderate state. “This is a pro-choice state. It is one I don’t think is going to be very sympathetic at all to elected officials that want to overturn Roe.”
The Buck campaign, however, rejected the comments of Richards as coming straight out of the Democratic playbook.
“[Richards] and the Democrat machine have tried everything they could to tear down Ken Buck, and the latest independent polls show Ken Buck leading,” said Buck campaign spokesman Owen Loftus. “Our internal polls show Ken Buck as leading. They are trying to throw this mud and it is just not working.”
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted Sunday showed Buck up one point on Bennet 49-48.
Richards said that Planned Parenthood Action Fund is working actively to turn out the vote for Bennet in today’s race. She said they are targeting a list of 50,000 supporters, many of whom are swing voters, to get out the message about Buck’s positions on women’s health. She said they are backing Bennet because he has been a strong advocate for women’s health issues in the Senate.
“I think that he stands a very good chance of winning, and it is all down to turnout. Every poll I have looked at in this race is razor thin.”
Loftus said voter turnout was working in the GOP’s favor. “The Secretary of State just released new numbers; Republicans now have a 70,000 edge over Democrats in the early vote.”
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office reporting Monday that with just over a million ballots cast, 48 percent of active Democrats, 52 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of unaffiliated voters have already voted for their candidates.
Richards said her organization was not going to let up on getting out the vote until the last polling station is closed at 7 p.m.
“Through the Planned Parenthood Action Fund we have sent a lot of mail, a lot of phoning to our supporters. Really just to educate women on how extreme Ken Buck is. If women get out to vote, certainly the majority of them will vote for Sen. Bennet.”
Richards said that politicians and analysts had initially downplayed the role women’s health issues would play in the election, instead pointing to jobs, the economy and debt as the vote drivers. However, she said that since September, as the drive to get women’s votes began, polling has shown politicians that women’s issues matter.
“You are not seeing people who take extreme positions, such as Ken Buck, advertising proudly and loudly their positions against Roe and reproductive health care,” Richards said. “So for [Colorado Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate] Mr. [Tom] Tancredo, for Ken Buck, if they were to get elected, it would be despite their position on choice.”
Loftus said that it is no illusion that Coloradans are focused on the economy in this year’s election. He said despite opposition attacks on Buck, the Weld County D.A. would be focused on the fiscal issues if he is elected to office.
“Coloradans know Ken Buck is going into Washington to fix the economy, create jobs, and get Washington spending under control,” Loftus said.