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Dems apologize for taking suicide remark out of context

A fellow Republican senator called it "a pretty low blow."
Credit: Courtesy Colorado State Senate/Brandon Rittiman
Colorado Democrats launched a misleading attack against Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose) Friday.

DENVER — A spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party apologized Friday for launching a misleading attack against Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose.)

State party spokesman Eric Walker attacked Coram earlier in the for a remark he made earlier in the week during a debate about a bill aimed at preventing youth suicide.

Coram’s comment during a hearing Tuesday sounds abominable in the absence of, you know, context.

“I was just going to say I guess the positive side is, is uh, if we have enough suicides we can save cost of education,” Coram said.

The context that’s missing is: Coram was the sponsor of the suicide prevention bill in question-- and he made this quip as an insult to his colleagues who were about to vote to kill that bill.

"It was strictly frustration that I knew this bill was going down, and I was angry because I couldn’t make the members of the committee understand the importance of this bill," Coram said.

The insult was apparently clear to Coram’s fellow Republican Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins, who replied “that was a pretty low blow.”

That didn’t stop folks on the left from weaponizing the audio clip. The liberal blog Colorado Pols posted it under the headline “Stay Classy, Sen. Don Coram (Suicide Saves Money Edition).”

The state Democratic party’s spokesman Eric Walker then blasted that write-up via email to reporters in an effort to condemn Coram.

After this story first published, Colorado Pols modified its headline to read “Frustrated Exchange Between Republicans Sparks Outrage.” The blog left intact its original write-up, but added an “update” informing readers that “in the interest of full disclosure, we do think it’s important to note that Sen. Don Coram was the Senate sponsor of the bill in question to reduce youth suicides.”

Before apologizing, Walker had doubled down on his stance by continuing to call for Coram’s ouster.

“Someone who jokes about kids committing suicide -- especially after killing a bill to prevent youth suicide -- shouldn't hold elected office,” Walker wrote.

Republicans said Democrats chose to ignore the facts of the situation in order to land a political punch.

“It wasn't a joke,” tweeted state senate GOP spokesman Sean Paige. “He was being ironic. The comments were aimed at those who voted against HIS suicide-prevention bill."

Hours later, Walker sent an email "to notify you that I am rescinding the comments that I made earlier today regarding Sen. Coram."

“New reporting has contextualized Sen. Coram's comments,” Walker wrote. “Sen. Coram's comments were in poor taste, but taking this new context into account, it's clear that my comments regarding Sen. Coram were unfair and over-the-top, and I apologize for them.”

Coram called the whole affair "politics."

"You know, really, frankly, I laughed and I said well that’s politics," he said. "Because everybody’s looking for soundbites. You grab a soundbite of something without even knowing the story and you run with it. And I haven’t even looked at it if you want to know the truth. I’ve been very busy today."

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