GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s attempt to firewall himself from the rapidly self-immolating presidential campaign of his party’s nominee Donald Trump appears to have backfired to a far greater degree than either his campaign or conventional wisdom could have predicted. After a “soft launch” of Coffman’s new ad stating he “doesn’t care much” for Trump yesterday, the Colorado press corps zeroed in on the bottom-line question:
9NEWS: “Would you rule out supporting Donald Trump for president?”
COFFMAN: “No.” [Pols emphasis]
Coffman gave a similar answer yesterday to Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger:
Adding the additional detail that he has spoken with the Libertarian vice presidential nominee Bill Weld. But the fact is, as soon as Coffman admitted that despite the clear impression given in this ad that he might indeed vote for Donald Trump, the whole exercise became a failure. Denver Post:
“People ask me, ‘What do you think about Trump?’ Honestly, I don’t care for him much,” Coffman says in the ad. “I’m a Marine. My duty is always to you. So if Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him. Plain and simple. And if Hillary (Clinton) wins, I’ll hold her accountable every step of the way.”
He did not rule out voting for Trump in November, [Pols emphasis] but a spokeswoman said he is considering other candidates.
Coffman said he draws a distinction between a possible vote for Trump and a formal endorsement of his party’s candidate [Pols emphasis]—but that he might not give Trump either.
“Do people ask you, ‘Are you going to vote for Trump?'” asked Denver7 political reporter Marshall Zelinger.
“I’m running my own campaign, and the purpose of the ad is not whether I’m voting for Trump or not, [Pols emphasis] the purpose of this ad is to send a message to the people of my Congressional District that I will represent them whoever is in the White House,” said Coffman.
“They’re going to want to know, who are you going to vote for based on not liking either?” said Zelinger.
Watson said Thursday that “Hillary Clinton is not an option” and that Coffman will not vote for her. She did not directly answer whether he has ruled out voting for Trump…
The Wall Street Journal covers Democrats eagerly pouncing on Coffman’s indecision:
The House Democrats’ campaign arm on Thursday evening taunted Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, challenging him to declare he wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump [Pols emphasis] a day after Mr. Coffman aired an advertisement expressing his opposition to the Republican presidential nominee…
“Mike Coffman stood by Trump while he denigrated women, mocked people with disabilities, and threatened our national security,” said DCCC spokesperson Tyler Law. “Ultimately, it’s out-of-touch politicians like Mike Coffman that paved the way for Donald Trump – and we are not going to let Coloradans forget that.”
Here’s the response ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC):
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made a $10,000 cable television buy Friday afternoon for an ad that pushes back on Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman’s assertion that he’d stand up to Donald Trump if he’s elected president…
Democrats won’t accept that Coffman isn’t standing with Trump. The vulnerable Republican has not said that he won’t vote for him November.
“Wait, you’re the one who said you’d support him,” the narrator in the DCCC ad says. “Don’t let Mike Coffman get away with this gimmick.”
In short, Coffman is getting a fair amount press coverage from his ad “distancing himself” from Trump–but by waffling on the implied point of the ad before it even began airing, he has squandered the effort. News reports indicate that the media buy for this anti-Trump ad is quite small, with the apparent strategy being to earn secondary media coverage from the ad’s content–not to buy exposure.
Unfortunately for Coffman, the press he’s earned hurts both himself and his party’s nominee.