The “Big Lie” may be the only truth for Republicans, but they still don’t have any idea how to talk about it without getting at least one foot stuck in their mouth.
Was the 2020 Presidential election fair and accurate, or was it “stolen” from former President Donald Trump? This is the single most important (and obvious) question for any 2022 candidate, yet most Colorado Republicans STILL can’t figure out how to respond in a coherent manner.
Republican gubernatorial candidate
Hiedi Heidi Ganahl may have irrevocably damaged her chances with her inability to provide a straightforward answer to this question; this is one of several reasons why even fellow Colorado Republicans believe Ganahl’s long-inevitable candidacy is already doomed. When Ganahl kicked off her campaign on Sept. 14, she was asked by multiple news outlets to provide an answer to a question about the “Big Lie” that any idiot should have known to expect. She botched all of those questions, capping off the day with this infamous disaster of an interview with Marshall Zelinger of 9News in which Ganahl keeps complaining about getting asked “divisive questions” (CLICK HERE to watch that entire cringeworthy interview).
Colorado Republicans have since tried to figure out a different path forward when this question invariably resurfaces. Earlier this month, State Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) went on KNUS radio to tout this advice: Republican candidates should acknowledge that Democrat Joe Biden is the rightful President of the United States and try to move on to something else.
Republicans have sorta followed this advice in subsequent interviews. Here’s what Ganahl told KNUS radio last week, per The Colorado Times Recorder:
“Joe Biden’s our president, and we have to do everything we can to change that in 2024,” Ganahl responded. “And as a candidate for governor, I can’t speak for the election integrity of other states, but I can speak for Colorado and I would not be running if I did not think I could win here.”
Ganahl then clarified her position on the issue further by saying that she doesn’t believe the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election in Colorado was changed by fraud, pointing to Biden’s large margin of victory here. She does not go so far as to say that fraud didn’t occur.
“I have not seen any evidence that the presidential election outcome in our state was changed by fraud. I mean, the margin was huge. It was 13 percent or 400000 votes that Colorado went for Joe Biden.”
Ganahl appears to have settled (for now) on the answer that Biden won in Colorado but maybe not in other states. This is not a response that is going to help Ganahl win over moderate voters in Colorado, but will it placate the GOP base?
On the Senate side of the campaign trail, Republican Ron Hanks flat out states that Biden was not fairly elected in 2020. Some of his fellow Senate candidates, meanwhile, are following the hybrid approach suggested by KBB. The Colorado Times Recorder caught this long and winding answer from Eli Bremer in late September:
“So I’m not an expert on elections,” Bremer said in the Sept. 28 interview. “One of the things I’ve learned, though, is when you have questions, go to people that really know about it. And I’m not going to lie, on election night, back in the aftermath of the election, I had a lot of big concerns about this election. I saw numbers that didn’t make sense to me. I saw outcomes that didn’t make sense to me. And so one of the things that I would say is I have fidelity to the truth. I want to get down and find the truth. And so I started making calls and I started asking people, particularly in Colorado, because that’s, you know, that’s our state. I talked to some clerks and recorders. Our clerk in El Paso, I’ve known for quite a while, talked to him. They’ve done a massive amount of investigation into this. And he said, ‘Eli, when we looked at the results, we’re talking random error of .01% level.’ And so I don’t have to like the outcome of the election. But in looking at what I’m seeing now and in talking to people who have phenomenal amounts of experience on this, who are on our side, I believe that in Colorado the results that were reported are correct.”
Using a LOT of words, Bremer appears to be going with the same theme that Colorado’s elections were fine but other states might have been corrupt.
Ganahl, Hanks, and Bremer don’t have great answers to this question, but their responses are at least more clear than the one recently attempted by Senate hopeful Gino Campana. On Oct. 13, Campana was a guest on longtime radio host Peter Boyles’s show “Peter Boyles On Demand.” Boyles asked Campana about what he calls “the one question every Republican candidate needs to be able to answer,” which resulted in Campana making a complete fool of himself [note: all emphasis is ours]:
PETER BOYLES: Did Donald Trump win? Was it stolen? What are you going to do with that?
GINO CAMPANA: I’m going to say this: There were tons of issues with the last election. There were tons of problems…undisputed issues transpired in the last election, and we need to deal with those issues…
PB: But that’s not the question…
GC: This is not a black and white question.
PB: Gino, of course it is.
GC: No, it’s not a black and white question.
PB: Of course it is.
GC: There’s a lot of gray between black and white. Unfortunately, Joe Biden is sitting in the White House right now. He’s our President. Okay, but I need to win…
PB: Gino, you’re going to have to answer the question, I’m sorry.
GC: And I’ve just answered it…
PB: Actually, you did not. So you’re saying, ‘yes it was, or no…’
GC: I just said that…
PB: Don’t Scalise me., because that’s gonna…do you believe…
GC: Don’t 9News me, Peter…
PB: I’m not 9Newsing you, because…
GC: This is a gotcha type question. This is what 9News wants to do…
At this point you can hear the frustration in Boyles’ voice. The radio host pushes back:
PB: No! Listen, my friend, Gino, listen, you gotta answer it, because if you don’t, the Democrats are going to ask you…you’d better tune up now. I’m trying to be like this coach — here comes the question, and if you can’t answer that…
GC: I appreciate that, Peter…
PB: No, I’m not, listen…
GC: I can answer it no problem…
PB: Alright, go ahead.
At last! Here it comes…
GC: My point is this: Joe Biden is our President right now. He won the election, okay? But, it’s not just…it won’t…the conversation won’t end there. The next election we’re going to have the same issues again. And the election is not a blanket election system…
PB: Of course it is…
Okay, that’s half of an answer. Time for a factually-inaccurate diversion!
GC: …defined by the federal government that is one size fits all for everybody, that requires all…that taxes me…and gives my tax dollars…
PB: Gino, listen, states control elections. The State of Colorado controlled its own election. You know that.
GC: Currently. Currently, yes. But there’s polls…there’s a bill on the floor for this to change.
Boyles now makes another valiant effort to get Campana to just answer the damn question:
PB: Well, I understand all that. But that’s not the question. The question is…with respect, I didn’t hear a yes/no, and you’re saying there’s no yes/no [answer], and of course there is…
GC: I just said he won the election. I said Joe Biden won the election.
PB: Fair and square?
GC: …and I just said there is a lot of…well, again, I’m coming back to the same comment, okay? And that is, there is undisputed facts out there that there were issues with the election…
GC: Words matter here, Peter. I think that’s your point with this.
PB: Did those issues impact the election? I’m taking you down the hole because it’s going to be asked…
GC: Well, of course they impacted the election. Did they impact the election in Colorado to the point where former President Trump would have beaten Biden? No. But of course they impacted. One vote impacts the election. That’s my point: Between black and white is gray.
Aha! It looks like Campana is also going to go the route of affirming Biden’s victory IN COLORADO but holding open questions about election results in other states.
Boyles takes one last shot at getting a full answer before he finally gives up and moves on to another topic:
GC: The point isn’t, was it stolen or wasn’t it stolen? The point is how do we bring people back to the table to have a discussion about election integrity.
And…we’re back to square one. Campana then tries to slither his way out of the subject with some mindless platitudes:
GC: I can tell you, it doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is. You should believe in the American dream — you’re an American. Tell me, who is going to push back against the value proposition of living the American dream? So, the American dream is going to resonate with Unaffiliateds, it’s going to resonate with Democrats, it’s going to resonate with Republicans…
PB: How do you do it?
GC: How do I do it? I get out there and I tell the story of how I lived the American dream. I get out there and I tell the story of what’s impacting the American dream today…
Freedom! ‘Merica! Arrgghhhh!!!
As a public service, allow us to offer some advice. Here’s the correct answer to questions about the “Big Lie”:
Joe Biden won the Presidential election in 2020 fair and square. Period.
See? It’s really not that difficult.
I don't think Heidi Hi, Heidi Ho "irrevocably damaged her chances."
How do you damage 0.000034 percent?
You'd have to find it first.
With an extremely surgical strike.
Her approach seems to be to try and smother it under horsecrap, and kill it along with everything else nearby.
I think the damage to chances is going to be measurable — but what has been said so far is so amorphous that I am uncertain whether that fog is going to bring the damage.
Biggest damage so far is the candidate, a relatively wealthy woman, LOANING her campaign $50,000. Not precisely a mark of confidence or commitment. Followed closely by firing a campaign manager after 6 weeks of the announced campaign, hinting she isn't a wizard at finding and sustaining talent.
Will it be a loss similar to Stapleton's (10%) loss? Beauprez's 2014 (3%)? Maes (40%)? Beauprez's 2006 (17%)? Or will she fail to even win the nomination?
"hinting she isn't a wizard at finding and sustaining talent"
Like that other self-professed successful and allegedly wealthy business person, she only hires the best people.
Hiedi Ho will fail to win the nomination.
At the last minute, a dea ex machina in the form of Taller Coffman will get into the race to try to save the party. There will be a primary between this establishment candidate and one or more nut jobs. (Probably more than one)
If not Taller Coffman, then maybe Shorter Coffman, Walker Stapleton, or Bob Beauprez (he does seem to run every eight years whether he needs to or not).
If an establishment Republican ends up being the nominee, then a 10% loss.
If a nut job is the candidate, anywhere between 10% loss and Dan Maes’ territory.
As we mock and fret about election truthers, I hope someone is paying attention to the GOP as it methodically installs those truthers in positions of power over election systems, from the county clerks to judges to State SoS to State Ag.
They won't make the same mistake twice. Be prepared to face an army of Tina Peters next time around. And they will not be nearly as readily caught.
Ganahl's Big Lie response does a couple of things:
* as pointed out, she's not taking a position on election fraud itself — by framing the question as the "extent" of fraud, she is signaling fraud exists; by wanting "election integrity," she's obviously on the side of the angels. Her concern about improper registrations implies the people already registered are not the problem, just the new "them" being registered.
* By "I can't talk about other states," she is insulating the claim from what people actually experienced when they voted, from any blame of the volunteer/low-paid election judges that people know, and from the county clerks they voted for. Blame resides with the machines that nobody can know about and featuring the Secretary of State as prime conspirator or unwitting dupe. Plus casting suspicion of the systems and people in other states — again, the states that have lots of "them" and Democrats in charge.