U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman has been in the news a lot lately, and not always in ways that provide links for his campaign website. In fact, to opponent Joe Miklosi, Coffman’s nationally reported “birther moment” may be the gift that keeps on giving.
Coffman’s birther comments–made at an Elbert County event not even in his district–were simple and to the point:
“I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that, but I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.”
His apologies and retractions, however, have been anything but to the point.
Wednesday, ProgressNow Colorado delivered 2000 signatures on petitions telling Coffman “to stop embarrassing Colorado.”
“We see groups like this periodically,” said Coffman staffer Myron Spanier. “They have their agenda. They leave us something or they tell us what they think of what we are doing. We always pass the materials on to Washington,” he said.
As to whether anyone actually reviews the materials or takes them into consideration, an email to a Washington communications staffer had not been returned at press time.
“Coloradans are not happy with Mike Coffman,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Joanne Schwartz. “After Coffman’s unprompted attacks on President Barack Obama’s citizenship and patriotism, Coffman went on talk radio and admitted his apology was insincere and ‘at least partly’ for political purposes. Coffman even said that he ‘understands the passion’ of so-called birthers.”
Schwartz said she did not expect Coffman to change his positions on the issues because of the petitions. Nonetheless, she said it is important that Coffman and voters understand “how out of touch with his district he is.”
“This is to inform him that his constituents don’t agree with his radical antics. He just makes one radical statement after another. It is time for Representative Coffman to realize that his district has changed,” she said after the event.
“Rep. Coffman, no one had even asked you about this when you said it. You brought it up proactively, and clearly did not ‘misspeak,'” Schwartz said when delivering the signatures.
ProgressNow was joined at Coffman’s Lone Tree office by Ali Cochran, who read a statement from Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org:
For Congressman Coffman to use his status as a Veteran as an excuse to call the Commander-in-Chief un-American is shocking, disgusting, and disgraceful.
American exceptionalism means holding our country to a higher standard. Without a doubt, President Obama’s policies and actions reflect a belief that, as Americans, we must lead the world by example. That includes showing respect for other countries, cultures and religions, building alliances when we can, but also striking at those who do us harm – like Osama bin Laden.
What undermines American exceptionalism is comments such as Congressman Coffman’s. He has undermined our politics and our democracy – the very foundation of what makes American great. What is worse, he used his service in the Marine Corps as an excuse to make those attacks on the Commander-in-Chief. Such statements are a disgrace to those who have worn the uniform.
Congressman Coffman must stop using his Veteran status to smear the patriotism of the President who ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, took thousands of troops out of harm’s way and has nearly doubled the Veterans budget. If Congressman Coffman truly believes in American exceptionalism, he should start by leading by example when it comes to our democracy and political debate.
Here is video of the event.
Here is a television news account of Coffman’s birther remarks, featuring audio of the comments.
(The photo of Joanne Schwartz and the video of the event were shot by Emily Andrews.)