Candidates alter their stances on hot topics
Several candidates for various federal and state offices have reversed or revised their stances on issues in recent months.
Some changes in candidates’ opinions have occurred since last month’s primary races. Other changes developed over longer periods.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes reversed his stance on illegal immigration from one he held last year.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., touted a pay-as-you-go measure in Congress and repeatedly has railed against the federal deficit, but then voted to waive those pay-go rules to fund a jobs bill.
Ken Buck, the Republican candidate opposing Bennet, altered his website to say he believed life begins at conception and would introduce a constitutional amendment declaring that, to saying he never supported the personhood amendment, which will be before Colorado voters in November and now would take no position on it.
State Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, told several tea party groups before his primary race that he supported getting rid of the 17th Amendment, which allows voters to elect U.S. senators, and dismantling the federal Department of Education, only to deny supporting either afterward.
During their primary race, Scott McInnis frequently assailed Maes on his illegal immigration stance.
During a May debate before the Western Slope Conservative Alliance in Grand Junction, Maes said he “never discussed or supported” amnesty for illegal immigrants, as McInnis often claimed.
But on his website last year, several copies of which were saved by an Internet archive site called http://www.waybackmachine.org, Maes offered this as a solution:
“Create a window of opportunity where current aliens could register, pay a fine, prove employment and being felony and DUI free, they are granted a probationary citizenship and can be naturalized after one year.”
Read to one of his current gubernatorial opponents, American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo, whose signature issue is immigration, the Maes website statement sounded like an amnesty plan to him, Tancredo told The Daily Sentinel earlier this month.
Though his campaign denies Bennet has been inconsistent in any of his stances before the Aug. 10 primaries, his Republican opponent says the sitting senator has reversed himself on several votes in Congress.
While Bennet often has spoken out against the mounting national debt, now listed at nearly $13.5 trillion, the Buck campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have attacked him for voting to raise it.
Earlier this year, Bennet introduced and the Senate approved pay-as-you-go legislation to help keep federal spending in check.
But not long after that, the Republican Senatorial Committee and the Buck camp said Bennet then voted to suspend those pay-go rules. He also has voted with the Democratic Party on other big-spending bills, such as the federal stimulus plan, they said.
His opponents also claim Bennet reversed his stance on the cap-and-trade legislation to reduce carbon emissions in the nation when he said he supports the idea but dislikes the House version of the bill.
A few months ago on his website and in surveys he has filled out for various groups, Buck said he believed life began at conception and that he would support laws, such as Amendment 62, declaring that idea.
But on Wednesday, the Weld County district attorney took down all that language from his website. Instead, Buck said that although life begins at conception, he does not favor doing away with various forms of birth control.
He goes on to say, however, that the proposed amendment and the concept of personhood are not interchangeable ideas, adding that several anti-abortion people such as himself favor the concept, but not the proposed amendment.
Buck’s website now says “he supports the concept of personhood, but is not taking a position on any of the state ballot initiatives, including Amendment 62.”
The Republican also has been criticized recently for changing his stance on several questionnaires he’s filled out for various tea party groups around the state.
On them, Buck said he supported doing away with the U.S. Department of Education and the 17th Amendment. Prior to that amendment, ratified in 1913, state legislatures picked U.S. senators.
Campaign spokesman Owen Loftus said last week, however, that Buck was not in favor of dismantling the department and changed his mind almost immediately about the amendment.
“He’s focusing his message on the issues that Coloradans care about the most,” Loftus said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a single poll that shows people are concerned about abortion more than they are jobs or more than they are about our country’s debt. The 17th Amendment, that is one he did change his position, but he changed it early on.”
Like Buck, Tipton also has been called out for saying he supported doing away with the 17th Amendment and the Education Department.
The Cortez state legislator says that’s the problem with simple yes-or-no surveys, that there is no room for nuanced answers.
“If I did that on the 17th Amendment, that was just an error,” he said in an interview. “My issues with these surveys ... is I do not like yes, nos.”
Not all of the surveys, however, called for yes or no answers. For the Craig tea party group, Bears Ears Patriots, its survey included seven options, from strongly oppose to strongly favor.
In its survey, Tipton said he strongly favored the dismantling of the federal department and returning its authority to state and local governments.
“What I’ve been saying consistently since we started is that I believe in local control for education,” Tipton said. “That being said, 70 percent of the Western Slope, 50 percent of the 3rd Congressional District on average is either on federal, state or tribal land, so we need those (federal) dollars. My issue with the Department of Education is, it’s always with strings attached.”
Tipton said his plan for that department is the same as his plan for the entire federal government, to cut it in half. He said he plans to do that without cutting government services, something his Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, says is impossible.
Matt Winey, a leader of that Craig tea party group, was surprised to hear of Tipton’s reversal, but said the group still supported him.
Tancredo, Salazar and Democrat John Hickenlooper, who is running for governor, did not have primaries, so none of them needed to reverse his stance from a position he would have felt compelled to take in order to win his party’s nomination.
Still, the three have been attacked for what their respective opponents have called reversals:
Tancredo was criticized for telling tea party groups around the state that they shouldn’t leave the Republican Party in their efforts to find candidates they like, only to do so himself when Maes, who has the support of several tea party groups, won the GOP nomination.
Hickenlooper was criticized for saying that some of the new, stricter state rules on oil and gas development may need to be revised, and then saying the rules were fine. He later clarified that stance, saying most of the rule are fine, but that some may need to be looked at.
Salazar’s critics routinely claim that while the congressman calls himself a Blue Dog Democrat, one that doesn’t always agree with his own party, he’s voted with it nearly all of the time, a charge the congressman’s campaign denies.