Littwin: Ladies and gentleman, Not-Wingnut Bob for governor
October 4, 2014
Bob Beauprez is not Tom Tancredo. That's the whole reason Republicans nominated him to run for governor. That's the reason he was recruited. The plan was that enough voters would overlook the fact that he had lost by 17 points the last time he ran for governor because, at minimum, they figured he wouldn't be a Tancredo-like distraction. And it worked. He won the primary.
But what is not quite so obvious is that the Republican leaders who picked Beauprez also had to hope that he wouldn't be, well, a Beauprez-like distraction. That's the irony here. Beauprez is no Tancredo. But for a seemingly mainstream banker/rancher/farmer/wrong-side-of-the-horse whisperer, he's remarkably close.
He lost the last time he ran for governor because he gaffed his way to defeat while offending nearly every minority group available. It was all Mexican time and 70 percent abortion rates for African-Americans and a very much overmatched candidate.
And then in his so-called wilderness years — the years between his 2006 humiliation and this 2014 try at redemption, the years in which Beauprez supposedly learned his lessons — things got worse. Much worse. Crazy-bad worse. Forty-seven percent worse. Government-microchip-implants-in-our-bodies worse.
And yet, when Beauprez faced off Tuesday night against John Hickenlooper for a Denver Post debate that would be basically a draw, he found himself in the middle of a race that, to nearly everyone's surprise, is basically a tie.
If you watched the debate, you saw how he has done it. Beauprez had four goals for the debate: 1. To be assertive and appear leader-like. 2. To attack Hickenlooper at every turn. 3. To repeatedly mention Nathan Dunlap. 4. To not say anything stupid.
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No. 4 was the real concern. And although he did say that an IUD was an abortifacient — an assertion hotly denied by many — Beauprez was otherwise pretty much gaffe-free.
In other words, this was not your 2006 to 2013 Beauprez.
If you're not surprised, you haven't read Susan Greene's story on the crazy-bad Beauprez years that appeared in the Colorado Independent. You should read it now. It's hard to pick out the strangest bit in Beauprez's hard turn to the right, but you can't go wrong with his little oration on, uh, people "lining up like sheep" for the government to implant microchips in their bodies.
Yes, government-implanted microchips. Here's the money quote from Beauprez's 2010 interview with online, hard-line radio host Clayton Douglas, in which they were discussing, among other things, living under a "one-world order":
"When they can start tracking us with a little microchip, and the technology certainly exists, and you watch the people who would line up voluntarily so that, gee, if you forgot your driver's license, no problem, you've got the RFID implanted in you. If you've got to get through the airport, no problem, you've got RFID. 'Well, sure, I want one of those, I want one of those.' And you watch like sheep how they would line up behind some kind of a dopey system like that without ever realizing how much freedom they just forfeited."
Somehow, Beauprez's image of sheeplike, chip-implanted voters doesn't work in a governor's race. And neither, for that matter, does a long list of other conspiracy-tinged Beauprez views.
Start with "creeping Sharia," and then go directly to the possible coming "civil war" against Obama and, yes, Beauprez's call for repeal of the 17th Amendment and, of course, a nod to birtherism ("If this guy is an American citizen, he's a different kind of American than virtually any I know"), and the list goes on.
I've watched both Beauprez-Hickenlooper debates, and I have yet to see that Beauprez. Most of the media have ignored the crazy-bad Beauprez years because they don't fit the narrative, which is mainstream Bob as the non-Tancredo alternative. And also because Beauprez has, for the most part, stayed away from damaging gaffes — largely by staying away from right-wing radio.
When he did go on Peter Boyles, Beauprez immediately got himself in trouble by suggesting that he would send the Colorado National Guard to the border if Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked, as if our brave men and women would join the fight against an army of desperate Central American children. Perry calls the Texas Guard's move to the border "Strong Safety." Beauprez must have called his "Omaha," because his campaign did an immediate audible, claiming that Beauprez meant he would send troops only on a humanitarian mission.
When Hickenlooper called him on it in the debate, Beauprez backed away from the crazy talk. That's what he did on every controversial topic. He revealed that although he was against same-sex marriage, it was up to the courts, not him, to decide and that, besides, he was pro-civil unions (had anyone ever heard that before?). On abortion, Beauprez basically refused to talk about it except to say he was "pro-life." On immigration, he wanted governors to do more but not, apparently, using the National Guard. Despite his IUD moment, he said he was all for birth control. It was as mainstream-Bob as he could get.
He concentrated instead on using obscure statistics to suggest that the Colorado economy isn't performing as well as it actually is, to say how much he likes Utah and to hit Hickenlooper on guns and the sheriffs and, of course, on Nathan Dunlap.
The takeaway moment from the debate, though, was Hickenlooper walking over to Beauprez with his hand out, asking him to join in refusing to do negative ads. Beauprez was clearly taken aback. He took Hick's hand — what choice did he have? — but then as they shook, Beauprez, wisely, said not a word.
Mike Littwin runs Sundays in The Aspen Times. A former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, he currently writes for Colorado Independent.com.
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