DENVER—Colorado Democrats accuse GOP gubernatorial challenger Bob Beauprez of putting "politics before disaster relief" in a digital video ad to be rolled out Wednesday.
The Beauprez campaign counters that the video does the very thing it decries by playing politics with the unprecedented disaster that affected a huge area of the state in September of last year.
Can't see the video? Click here: http://bit.ly/1rZF5sZ
The ad sets the tone by showing footage of the floods, which began the evening of September 11, and pivots to the government shutdown, which began on October 1.
Then the video features an audio clip of Beauprez on a Wisconsin radio program from October 4 in which he says, "I am a Republican, and I served with many of these Republicans who are currently steering the train… I've been very, very proud of them."
Democrats portray this as cheering for the shutdown while disaster struck.
"Instead of standing up for the hard working people devastated by natural disaster, Congressman Beauprez defended his Tea Party friends and rooted for Washington, D.C. dysfunction," said state Democratic party chairman Rick Palacio.
Republicans point to the ad as an early example of the Hickenlooper re-election strategy: have the official campaign run positive messaging while the governor's allies go for the jugular.
"This attack is absurd and grossly misleading," countered Allen Fuller, communications director for the Beauprez campaign. "John Hickenlooper is hiding behind his party and is more than happy to let them do his dirty work. That the Colorado Democratic Party would politicize these devastating floods where people died and lives were destroyed is appalling."
While it's true that flood response was still ongoing when Beauprez agreed to discuss the government shutdown on the conservative radio program, the quote's context is altered in the ad presented by Democrats.
Beauprez wasn't praising the shutdown directly, but rather his party's goals in the talks and their efforts to negotiate an end to it.
Here is a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview from WZIM radio in La Crosse, Wisconsin:
Interviewer: "Do you see a solution?"
Beauprez: "Oh, sure. Later there'll be a solution. There always is. A solution does not necessarily mean a good solution. I don't even know if a good solution is even possible at this point. It's pretty obvious that both sides have hunkered down. It's impossible for me to be completely objective since I am a Republican, and I served with many of these Republicans who are currently steering the train… I've been very, very proud of them. Not only did they take a tough initial stand, a defunding Obamacare stand, and keep the rest of government going, but they've come back with numerous additional offers."
The Democrats' ad also leaves out context about the impact the federal government shutdown actually had on response to the floods, which would fairly be characterized as minimal.
Federal emergency workers did not stop performing their duties, though Gov. Hickenlooper did need to use state funds to pay for 120 national guard engineers to stay on the job.
Perhaps the biggest impact was the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park, which cut off access to Trail Ridge Road and left the businesses of Estes Park with a dearth of visitors to serve when they re-opened from the flood damage.
The park was re-opened using state funds before the conclusion of the shutdown.
During that time, Hickenlooper made a point of visiting flood-ravaged areas across the state, despite requiring crutches due to hip surgery he underwent shortly before the disaster.
Republicans argue the governor's motives weren't entirely altruistic, pointing to a recent Men's Journal feature in which Hickenlooper is quoted as saying, "a governor on crutches helping flood victims isn't a bad shot for television."
Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colorado) re-election campaign has also been touting flood recovery efforts as part of its messaging.
GOP challenger Rep. Cory Gardner , who shared a Blackhawk helicopter ride with Udall in which flood survivors were rescued, has criticized Udall's use of the floods as an attempt to "dismiss" bipartisan efforts to respond to the disaster.
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