Coffman “Birther” Crisis Compounds

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.

37 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pita says:

    Is Mike’s chief adviser a defense attorney.  I agree with Kyle Clark – this is totally out of character – Mike Coffman, to my knowledge, has never shied away from speaking his mind.

  2. nancycronk says:

    for finding him. I heard Coffman lives in SE Aurora, a stone’s throw from where I used to live, and only 2-3 miles from where I live now. You’d think constituents in our community would see him in the neighborhood once in awhile, but none of my friends have. His office only returns calls to people who donate or are Republican, from what people tell me. He must be talking to donors like Big Oil and Military contractors  though — just look at his numbers. (Wonder how fundraiser Steve Farber feels about helping him now?)

  3. SSG_Dan says:


    He sounds like a dumbass private who got caught in the barracks with a hooker and a fifth of bourbon…not a Marine “combat” officer. “I take the 5th, Gunny.”

    Does he think he can keep giving this nonsensical answer the rest of the campaign? Does he think he can pull a Newt and claim it’s just the “liberal elite media” trying to target him?

    Every time he refuses to answer the question, he hurts himself with two groups – conservative (and moderate) Dems and Indys who want an answer, and the nutjob Repubs who want him to repeat the birther nonsense.  

    I can’t wait to hear Joe’s response to this.  

    • Middle of the Road says:

      I’ve worked on a few campaigns; message as well as response is everything. And as hard as I try, I really cannot conceive of a better response than the one he’s giving…which is awful.

      I mean, what’s he going to say here as a followup? “I said it. I believe it. I stand by it. I really do believe Obama was born in Kenya and I believe he is an un-American socialist Commie who hates our country.”

      There’s nowhere to go with this one. There is no walking this one back. He looks bad no matter what he says and his apology makes him look even worse. It’s a lose/lose for him and frankly, I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s like he actually had a brief moment of total honesty and the voters in CD6 just got a glimpse of what he’s really about, what he really believes.

      If they are stupid enough to still vote for him, then fuck ’em.  

      • SSG_Dan says:

        Coffman has built his brand in this media market as the Congressman that’s willing to talk to anyone on anything. I’ve gotten thru to his office on veteran’s issues far more times than I ever had to my own Congresswoman.

        As the story starts, he’s on 9News so many times I think he should have a desk in the newsroom. Kyle Clark is no pushover, but he’s going to be the friendliest reporter he’s going to get on this issue.

        He whiffed.

        The other brand value that Coffman has built on is the duty-bound Marine that speaks his mind. This incident has tarnished that so much he has to abandon it for the rest of this campaign.

        So, he’s losing the two main brand values he’s based his image on. The more he takes this bullshit consultant-provided answer, the more it takes a hit. He doesn’t have the media savvy or money to re-invent himself in time for Nov, so what the hell does he do?

        It ain’t sticking with “I stand by my statement, that I wrote, that you have, and I misspoke and I apologize.”

        • nancycronk says:

          Then maybe he only talks to Vets? I’ve had many friends try to talk to him about women’s issues, unemployment, health care, eduction, lgbt issues, the environment, energy, etc. and nothing. As soon as they get your name and the issue you want to talk to them about, he’s suddenly unavailable. Staffers are happy to talk to you by phone — big flippin’ deal. Before Bennet’s second term, when he got much busier, health care activists could just walk in and he’d talk to us. One time, around Thanksgiving, we were even offered a piece of his birthday cake with his family there. I have photos of the kids in birthday hats.

          I give Coffman credit for standing by Veterans when he does, and if his office has treated you with the respect you deserve, I think that is wonderful. I’d personally like to see him stand by everyone else too — including our President. As you said, dissing everyone left of center for the last four years will come back to bite him in the trousers.

          • SSG_Dan says:

            …other than the hard-core weirdos that believe in the birther crap, most vets are really not down with insulting the CiC.

            If he does try and stick to friendy  vet audiences, that’s going to result in the same groupthink that got him into trouble this time.

            He’s screwed….and he did it all by himself to himself.

      • MADCO says:


        Congressman, what did you mean when you said “He is not an American”?

        Look- I stand by my statement*,I misspoke and I apologize. We should be talking about important things like……and on to whatever other message he’s got.

        His message seems to be – I’m just like you, whoever you are, and a Marine and the incumbent – send me back to oppose Obama.

        Not great messaging, but that level of messaging has worked before in CD6.

        * I heard a little echo of the whistle – does he mean he stand s by his weasel y apology, or the statement that  in his heart he knows the President is not an AMerican?

  4. BlueCat says:

    for pols to learn that nothing stays anywhere anymore?

    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.

    How could anyone with more brains than a piece of toast still have that expectation? Lucky for the public, many pols apparently do so we still get to see the real deal, despite all the professional packaging.

    I love that this was put out there by an approving rightie and nobody can blame this on Dems or the “librul” media. I love that every time Coffman gets asked about this he looks and sounds like a lawyered up crook.

    Could Dems really luck out again, as they did here in 2010 due to self inflicted GOP damage in the senate and gubernatorial races? As they did with Both Ways Bob, another piece of damage inflicted by fellow Rs? Not to mention their choice of running that pic featuring Bob and the wrong end of a horse.

    Could this help bring in some big D bucks?

    Colorado sure has been fun for political junkies for the past decade, hasn’t it? For Rs, maybe not so much.

    • VanDammer says:

      it was a Mikey supporter that thought posting his ass-inine statements would help him win converts.  I don’t give 2-f*cks about backwards Elbert cause they aren’t truly the ones Mikey has to win over but I’m loving that what he said in Elbert sure as Hell ain’t staying in Elbert.

      He did not need to say this to gain traction in Elbert.  He didn’t need to say it in front of some Elbert TeaBaggers because their vote really wasn’t going anywhere else.  It was sheer stupidity on his part and shows that he is truly a dishonest deluded birther.  His handlers now try to instill a STFU in his itty-bitty brain so he can get his ass outta the newscycle — but we need to make sure the spotlight continues to shine on his warty ass.    

  5. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    “Mike, you had one job. ONE JOB! We told you, ‘hang on to the veterans’ votes.’ And what do you do? With this ONE job we gave you? You piss off the veterans, Mike, that’s what you do. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, can we trust you with ANYTHING?”

  6. BoulderPatentGuy says:

    If JM’s team is smart enough, Coffman just lost the election with this footage.  His constituents deserve more.  If their representative won’t answer simple questions from a reporter, he won’t answer to them either.  Or, maybe he’ll just tell them “I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.”  What a dousche.

  7. Gilpin Guy says:

    of how many times and in how many places Coffman has misspoke that didn’t get captured on video?

  8. Gilpin Guy says:

    concept of American Exceptionalism.

    His idea of American Exceptionalism is the antithesis of the concept of core human rights that are unalienable and present in every human culture.  How can we all yearn for democracy and social justice if Americans are always different.

    When America was exceptional as an economic force was in the 50’s when unions and teachers were respected and helping the most disadvantaged in our society wasn’t considered a sin.  In that era, children in desperate conditions could dream of escaping their plight through a merit based society where every child had a chance to get an education.  Now we have drifted towards being a Banana Republic where only the wealthy can afford to education their children and our intellectual strength has been weakened without the intelligence and drive to get ahead by the disadvantaged.

    Coffman’s concept of America is better “because it is” is contrasted by the different measures of societal success like infant mortality rates in which the United States is usually quite far down on the list.  He has pompous airhead ideas with no practical solutions for regaining our intellectual prowess.  It’s just recycled hot air and then he tries to use it as an excuse to justify his demagoguery.  

  9. DenLawyer says:

    He said what he said in Elbert County, he “apologiezed” as he apologized and he continues to look foolish when asked about what he said and what he meant.  But does it matter?  Does anyone truly think Miklosi is going to beat Coffman?  I am left of center, but I do not give Miklosi a chance in CD-6.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      is that Coffman wakes up and acts like a leader of the free world instead of some kind of a classless demagogue jerk.

      Maybe it will help Coffman pull his head out of his asshole and do things like reduce combat brigades in Europe which is what he is supposed to be doing.

      We’ll never know how many times he misspoke but if this is an ethics crisis for him and he shows genuine repentance at playing gutter politics then maybe he’ll be a better politician if he makes it back to Washington and concentrates on solving problems.

      Integrity always counts gentlemen and we’ll find out is Coffman’s is genuine.  

  10. ArapaGOP says:

    Coffman should have walked away after saying it once, but there’s nothing wrong with him giving this liberal reporter nothing to smear him further with. If Coffman had walked away, Colorado Pols would be attacking him for that too.

    He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, because you are dedicated to removing Coffman from office. So nobody cares what you think.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      Kyle Clark was roasted over the coals by the left over several stories he did at 9News. I think “Right-wing Hack” was one of the labels on his FB page.

      And if you even bothered to watch the clip, you’d know that 9News is the friendliest damn tv station in the region towards Coffman.

      But that’s the new Repub meme, isn’t it? If you don’t like the facts, dismiss the source as ‘liberal” or “biased.” If they come from a former Repub official, he or she is “disgruntled.”

      Still waiting for an answer from the Etch-a-sketch candidate on Vets issues – if you’ve got time to post here, you got time to answer me!

    • Wong21fr says:

      As in plural, i.e. more than one?

      Effective message discipline helps if you have more than one T.P. to go to when answering questions.

      • GalapagoLarry says:

        Ok, Mike, here’s where you pivot. Turn to what you want to talk about. Think, boy, think. Deflect. Dodge. Do something. Oh, god, Mikey, don’t just stand there with that terrified look on your face. Meltdown!

        Can’t stand the guy, but he was so paralyzed there in the headlights, I couldn’t help but feel his pain. And then I remembered the crap he said that started it all. Oh, that is his talking point (singular).

    • GalapagoLarry says:

      Many of us are

      dedicated to removing Coffman from office.

      Get over it.  

    • unnamed says:

      You can’t talk about something that you know nothing about.  Whatever the Republicans are paying you, it is way too much.  You really suck at furthering your viewpoint.  

    • MADCO says:

      So…was he lying mispeaking then or is he lying mispeaking  now?

      Move along everyone – nothing to see here.

  11. ScottP says:

    It’s not much, but at least he’s embarrassed by it. He could’ve just run of the right side of the cliff with the rest of the birthers.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      His reaction isn’t honorable; it’s called spin control.  

      • droll says:

        In an era in which the political media is eager to spotlight “outrage” and the “craziest stuff happening that day in the American public space,” Schmidt said that Romney’s tightly disciplined campaign team has to be careful about handing the town-hall microphone over to the conservative base.

        “The reality is we live in very serious times,” he said. “Mitt Romney is going to have to a strategic imperative to deliver an economic message every day. And every day he is not is a bad day for him.”

        That’s from a former McCain campaign adviser. This article is a good read. Apologies if it has been posted before; they’ve updated it, writing over the original published date.

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      If he had been embarrassed to say it, he would not have said it. Coffman is no Tea Party baby first-time candidate who slipped, fell, and landed in Congress. He’s been around the block politically, AND he’s a Marine veteran. I guarantee that he is capable of shutting the hell up even when he’s fired up, and he chose not to. He said what he meant. Now he’s trying to limit the damage (and failing.)

  12. GalapagoLarry says:

    Y’know, Pols, I thought there just has to be a better, stronger word you could have used. So I consulted the online thesaurus, and now I guess I agree. You nailed it. Unless, maybe, “heavenly”?

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