Buckpedaling on the Social Agenda

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Back in May, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck had this exchange with Jim Pfaff, the social-conservative flag-bearer at 560 KLZ radio.

Pfaff: “These social issues, like marriage, these are critical issues. It has been one of the great weaknesses of the Republican Party not to deal with these critical issues.”

Buck: “I agree with you that I think it has been a weakness of the Republican Party in the United States Senate, and I think it’s time that we look at the people we are sending back to Washington DC and making sure those people are sticking by the values they espouse on the campaign trail.”

Then, on Thursday, The BIG Newspaper in town quoted Buck as saying he is not going to Washington with a social agenda.

But for Thursday’s story, The Post failed to ask social conservatives in Denver what they thought of Buck’s “buckpedal” on social issues, as Colorado Pols has termed Buck’s abandonment of stated positions he held during the primary.

I mean no one would argue that Buck didn’t go the extra mile, especially for specific audiences, to make it clear that he was going to Washington with a social agenda, as the exchange above illustrates.

His positions on social issues included, among others:

Opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest

Opposition to giving a 14-year-old girl raped by her 13-year-old brother the option to use the “morning after pill”

Belief in the idea that the “stage of development” when humans become “persons” is the “single cell,” which would ban fertilization procedures

Support of Personhood Amendment giving citizenship rights to fertilized eggs

Opposition to common forms of birth control

Pledge to oppose “pro-abortion” judicial nominees or any person applying for any government position.

Pledge to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning abortion

Support of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensuring states that outlaw gay marriage do not have to recognize gay marriages conducted in states that permit them.

Opposition to gay marriage

Support of public posting of the 10 Commandments

Support of a vague weakening of the separation of church and state, suggesting a “coexistence between government and religion”

Opposition to funding Planned Parenthood health clinics

In favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.

So do social conservatives feel betrayed that Buck is now saying he’s “not going to Washington, D.C., with a social agenda?”

In response to this question, the normally conversant former GOP Senate President John Andrews emailed me:

“I’ll pass on this one.”

State Sen. Dave Schultheis told me he still supports Ken Buck but he thinks the tactic will hurt his election campaign.

“It’s unfortunate that he appears to be minimizing the social agenda. He should go to Washington with both a fiscal and social agenda.

I think that being totally honest with the people helps a candidate. Let the people decide, which is the way we should all be acting.”

Talk-radio host Pfaff wasn’t upset:

“I’m confident that Ken Buck will stand on these important social issues very well. If a vote comes up, he’s going to vote the right way. In reality, though, the emphasis has to be on getting this fiscal house in order. I’ve said many times, I have no desire to live in a pro-life socialist state. And so, it does have to be both/and proposition and not an either or proposition. The question is emphasis.”

Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll emailed me:

“Do you really think Buck – a social conservative, no doubt – gave social issues a high priority in the primary?  That’s not my impression. Not compared to fiscal issues, anyway.”

Jane Norton, who was outflanked by Buck on the right, might disagree with Carroll. I mean, you could argue that Buck’s hard right views on social issues tipped the primary in his direction. So Buck’s positioning likely paid off.

I interviewed those guys last week. Then over the weekend Buck dropped a nuclear bomb on some deep social conservatives.

Buck told The Denver Post he changed his view and would now vote against Personhood Amendment, which would give legal rights to fertilized eggs. He said he didn’t “understand” that the measure would ban common forms of birth control, even though until the weekend his campaign had been defending Buck’s opposition to common forms of birth control, ,a href=”http://bigmedia.org/2010/09/16/reporters-should-correct-buck-when-he-says-bennet-ad-untrue/”>telling 9News Buck opposed forms of the Pill and IUDs, for example.

For Sunday’s piece, The Post got a response from a key social conservative, Cleta Jasper, a board member of the Pikes Peak Citizens for Life, who sent Buck a survey in response to which he promised, among other things, not to vote for pro-choice judicial nominees.

She told The Post she was not upset enough at Buck to kick him in the shins.

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  1. H-man says:

    Bennet comes back to Colorado after voting to spend money and not pay for it and is shocked that the deficit is so large and now he wants to make sure the latest stimulus is from left over TARP money.  Death bed conversion or is he running to the middle as well?

    In context none of this is surprising.  If elected would Bennet continue to spend like a drunken salor? Yes.  If elected is Buck fundamentaly pro-life? Yes.

    Does moving towards the middle make either evil? Not in my view.  They would be silly not to.  That is how the system works.

  2. dwyer says:

    I do not understand why.  Conservatives understand exactly what Buck is doing….simply taking an issue away from the progressives.  Buck hasn’t changed his mind.  He still hews to the pro-life line…BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER what he says to his supporters.  They know he considers  himself pro-life.

    Now….here is the wedge.  Progessives may be geniunely scared of Buck because of his stands..(.Even tho, there is no way he can implement any of his beliefs given federal law).  So Buck could lose some votes…balance that against the huge religious vote he could pick up.  FYI, October is Respect Life month for the Catholic church.  There will be a big Life conference in mid-October.  I bet the mid-term elections will be central.  Then, the big Pro=Life Mass celebration has been changed from its usual date in mid-January to the last weekend in October….right before election day.   I bet catholics will be admonished that if they have to choose between voting for a pro-life candidate and a pro=choice candidate, they should choose the pro=life one…..that goes all over the ticket…from the top down all republican candidates are calling themselves pro-life.

    Does this mean that catholics want to outlaw abortion and birth control?  Absolutely not, it just means that they will vote republican.

    Conservatives want to overturn roe and have the issue of abortion returned to the individual states where they can fight about it ad infinitum.  

    It would be good to drop the social issues and have dems concentrate on those issues where they have some agreement with some churchs…ie. health care and immigration reform.  

    • Jason Salzman says:

      and intensely religious people.

      Polls show women across the board care about choice, and it can influence their votes.

      We all know the number one issue is the economy, but these issues deserve attention from a blogger.

    • EmeraldKnight76 says:

      Why is that? Why do you care if people care and want to bring Buck’s (and Angle, Miller, Paul, and O’Donnell’s) positions on a variety of social issues to light?

      Do you believe that voters can only concentrate on a single issue at a time? Are you not aware of the culture wars that are coming back through this resurgence of uber-conservatives calling themselves Tea Party?

      Gay Marriage

      Abortion

      DADT

      seperation of church and state

      anti-Islam sentiments

      immigration

      Do you think it’s just a coincidence that every candidate with tea party backing have the same views on these social issues?

      We all get that you don’t think abortion is going to be a big issue in this year’s elections. A lot of us have a very different opinion. The conservatives happen to agree with you, which should be a red flag right there. They really don’t want abortion to be front and center this election either.  

      • dwyer says:

        I believe that emphasizing the so-called social issues helps the republicans more than the democrats.  That is it.  I don’t think it is a winning strategy for the democrats and its continued emphasis helps the GOTV for the repubs. It continually identifies the republicans as pro-life….and that plays into the religious agenda.

        I think that the dems would be better off answering the outrageous and dangerous charges being thrown by the right.

        For example, I read on Sunday and I can’t remember where it was that CU Regent Steve Bosley identified himself and fellow tea partyers as The Storm Troopers…saying, something to the effect that the storm troopers are fired up and are going to take back America.

        I don’t know how to verify the comment, independently, but I am trying.

        That scares the hell out of me.  And, if true,  I don’t know what is more frightening; a political environment where a CU Regent can call himself a storm trooper with impunity, or the fact that Democrats are absolutely silent in the face of this.

        It is entirely possible that Bosley was misquoted and if so, then I will certainly apologize.  

        Finally, I thought that the point was that Buck was “flip-flopping” on the issues.  My point is that I don’t think he is flip-flopping on this one issue.  I think it is a “dog-whistle.”

        This post is based on the assumption that everyone knows what a storm trooper is.

        • ThillyWabbit says:

          Why are you shaking in your boots over some dumb comment? When someone says storm troopers, people think Star Wars. The dumb shit who made the comment was probably thinking Star Wars.

          You think we should get our panties in a bunch about some dumbass teabagger comment and ignore the actual policy prescriptions that a US Senate candidate is proposing?

          • dwyer says:

            I count., TW.  I am an American. I care about what is a legitimate reference and what is a nazi reference. Don’t you ever patronize me.  It is not okay in my country, for a Regent of a public University to proudly identify with the storm troopers who marched into Austria, Poland, France and killed

            babies by tossing them up in the air and catching them with bayonets, mowed down whomever got in their way, and were the vanguard that let to the murder of six million people…some of whom I believe were my relatives…

            I want an apologize.

          • Ralphie says:

            I love you, but I don’t think “Star Wars.”

            Maybe it’s my age, but “Storm Troopers” means something very different, very bad, to me.

      • H-man says:

        “Not to be too much of a pragmatist, GG

        People couldn’t give a shit less right now about climate change and energy independence.

        People want to go back to work.

        Anyone who fails to see that as the single issue in this election does so at their own peril.

        Best to kill them early instead of letting them possibly need food stamps.

        –marilou, 2010

        ——————————————————————————–

        by: Ralphie @ Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 19:29:52 PM MDT

        [ Parent | Reply ] ”

        • EmeraldKnight76 says:

          right now is the economy. But we elect senators for 6 years. I assume the economy won’t be the number one priority forever.

          There are many Dems out there who can handle more than one priority at a time.

          Conservatives and apparently some Dems would prefer not to talk about the 2nd coming of the culture wars. Those Dems don’t think it’s a winning strategy to get the base fired up about the uber-conservative’s attacks on women’s reproductive rights, or the repeal on DADT, or gay marriage. Apparently, it’s not a winning strategy to point out where these uber-cons stand on these issues.

          I think it IS a winning strategy. Clearly the Dems base isn’t getting fired up regarding economic issues, they WILL get passionate in their protections of gay rights and women’s rights. Just my opinion.

          • dwyer says:

            Disclaimer:  I respect anyone’s opinion on their own religion. I won’t debate religion.  I think the endless argument on when life begins is senseless.  I fear organized religion and their campaign to dictate public policy by influencing elections. would prefer to concentrate on the danger to the constitution instead of the so-called cultural wars, which the so-called progressives have already lost.

            Strategy:  It is way too late for the dems to have a strategy.  They sat by and allowed the tea party to frame the debate and define the terms.  I think to minimize the damage it would be good not to debate on the terms established by the tea partyers.

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