9NEWS’ Kyle Clark:
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) repeatedly answered with a one-line talking point when asked by 9NEWS about his recent comments questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace and whether he’s really an American at heart.
9NEWS Reporter Kyle Clark approached Coffman outside a closed door fundraiser Tuesday night after the Coffman campaign ignored several requests over several days to schedule an interview with the congressman.
Coffman reiterated that he misspoke and apologized, but would not elaborate. Coffman offered the same one-line explanation to every question asked, including when he was asked if he would answer any question with a different response. [Pols emphasis]
Folks, you really have to watch this to understand just how awful it was. There are consultants out there who consider message discipline of such paramount importance, especially during a damage control episode, that they actually advise their clients to behave in the canned, robotic way Rep. Mike Coffman did yesterday when cornered by 9NEWS with cameras rolling.
As you can see below, that is very bad advice.
KYLE CLARK: I apologize, we talk to you all the time, you’re a very forthcoming guy. Who’s telling you not to talk and to handle it like this?
REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement, that I wrote, that you have, and I misspoke and I apologize.
In the case of Coffman’s remarks about President Barack Obama’s citizenship and broader nationality, that is “not an American,” there are some really very natural questions that spring to mind, despite the fact that Coffman says he “misspoke.” What does it take to be “an American” in Coffman’s eyes? What about the settled matter of Obama’s birthplace is still unclear to Coffman, enough that he “doesn’t know” if the President is legally qualified to serve? And above all, how can Coffman claim he “misspoke” with such conviction and specificity?
KYLE CLARK: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Elbert County where folks are very conservative and you’d never say something like that in the suburbs? [Pols emphasis]
REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.
The problem for Coffman is it’s painfully obvious that he simply said things in Elbert County he didn’t want or expect to leave there. Now that it’s spent nearly a week as a nationwide story, the damage to Coffman’s once-steady re-election prospects is becoming impossible to ignore. We’ve warned repeatedly that Coffman was not adapting well to his newly competitive and diverse district, and with this incident, he’s proving us correct–and then some.
KYLE CLARK: Is there anything I can ask you that you’ll answer differently?
REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.
As Clark reports, Coffman has essentially gone into hiding after the original story broke last week. Coffman reportedly sent an aide to his scheduled event last weekend, and has no more public appearances scheduled. But the fact that 9NEWS tracked down Coffman outside a closed-door fundraiser at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts also makes that an insult.
We still can’t say for sure what this will all mean for Coffman’s re-election in November. There is naturally debate about the attention span of voters, the significant fundraising advantage that Coffman has heretofore enjoyed, and the strength of Coffman’s Democratic opponent.
But it’s stunning how badly this has gone for Coffman so far, wholly self-inflicted.