For Rep. Mike Coffman, R-CD6, signing on as Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s Colorado chairman probably seemed like a smart move back when Perry went from announcing he was running to being the front-runner in a matter of hours. Today, maybe not so much.
Perry has been plunging in the polls for weeks before he decided to run what looks to most analysts as a desperate pandering anti-gay ad in Iowa. The Perry campaign seems to have decided that the best route to the White House for the governor is to draw the anti-gay votes in evangelical Republican circles in Iowa from deeply social conservative candidates Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. That move would appear to put Coffman in a tough spot, not that anyone in the Perry camp asked for Coffman’s opinion. Coffman’s deep red district was remade recently by Colorado courts as a toss up district, where right-wing ads like Perry’s would almost all but guarantee defeat.
Perry cuts right to the chase in the ad: “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in schools.”
In response to the ad (watch it below), Colorado Democratic Chair Rick Palacio issued a blistering statement Thursday, telling Coffman he should repudiate the ad and its content.
Palacio’s prepared statement:
“In thirty seconds, Rick Perry’s latest campaign ad highlights what’s wrong in politics today. Instead of offering constructive solutions to the real world problems that our country is facing, he has chosen the well worn path of division and bigotry.
“Many things make this country great, not the least of them is our diversity. Brave men and women from all walks of life, from every race and religion and from every sexual orientation have fought and died for the basic freedoms that make this country great. Including the right of free speech that Governor Perry is exercising today. Sadly Governor Perry is choosing to exercise that right in way that spreads hate and pits Americans against one another.
“As a Christian and a gay man, I find this ad to be deeply offensive and I call on Governor Perry to remove this ad from the airways. I also call on Congressman Coffman, who chairs Rick Perry’s Colorado campaign, to denounce both the tactics and the content of this video. If Congressman Coffman refuses to do so, he owes the people of Colorado an explanation why such bigotry should stay on the air.”
Certainly Palacio is not the only one to have noticed the ad, and found it troubling. The Huffington Post and others have reported that the ad has caused a rift in the campaign itself.
From The Daily Beast:
Rick Perry’s political campaign may be ending as ineptly as it began. Some of his staff is apparently in revolt over his recent anti-gay turn, which has included an ad attacking openly gay soldiers. According to The Huffington Post, Perry’s top pollster, Tony Fabrizio, sent the ad’s creator an email calling it “nuts.”
In that campaign ad, released on Wednesday, Mr. Perry says “you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday” to know it is wrong that gay men and lesbians openly serve in the military at a time when there is no organized prayer in public schools.
Internally, a top Perry campaign adviser, Tony Fabrizio, was critical of the ad. A Perry aide did not deny division inside the campaign over the commercial — a split first reported by The Huffington Post — but chalked it up to the “occasionally salty” and robust interchanges between advisers.
But even if most voters do not have a problem with the issues Mr. Perry is focusing on, his approach might still succeed. Analysts say even a narrow issue — but one that gives some voters a reason to turn out for him — might improve his single-digit standing in most polls.
“This might be his best shot — he needs something, right?” said J. Ann Selzer, an Iowa pollster.
Coffman’s congressional office said it could not legally comment. We could not reach the Perry campaign in Colorado. Of course, the ad may not bother Coffman who has worked to prevent gay service members from being married in military facilities.
scotkersgaard at gmail.com