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February 11, 2013 09:13 AM UTC

Mike Coffman on the Road to Damascus?

  • by: Colorado Pols

As reported by Nic Turiciano of the Denver Post today, above is video we received of GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, speaking yesterday at a forum on immigration policy at St. Therese Catholic Church in Aurora. Yesterday's forum before a packed crowd also included U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

For anyone familiar with Rep. Coffman's prior views on immigration policy, being after all the representative elected to succeed anti-immigrant fireband Rep. Tom Tancredo, the video above is likely to prove quite shocking–for viewers on both sides of the debate over immigration policy. In 2008, Coffman campaigned for Congress on a pledge to "deny amnesty and a path to citizenship to those who violate our laws." Coffman was a co-sponsor of the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009, which would have changed the interpretation of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which currently defines as a US citizen any person born within US territory. Coffman even sponsored legislation to restrict the distribution of bilingual ballots to perfectly legal registered voters.

And we don't need to even mention the whole "Obama is not an American" thing again–do we folks? 

Obviously, there are a few different ways to look at this. Coffman's unexpectedly narrow two-point victory over his underdog opponent in 2012 unmistakably revealed his political vulnerability–and incidents like the "Obama is not an American" remark severely undermined confidence in Coffman as a potential candidate for higher office. This led directly to Coffman's announcement that he would not, as had been widely expected before 2012, challenge Sen. Mark Udall in 2014, and focus on holding his newly competitive and diverse seat.

It's kind of hard, with all of this in mind, to not be cynical about Coffman's newfound and apparently quite extensive conversion on the issue of immigration.

On the other hand, folks, when we come down too strongly on the side of cynical politics, we deny politicians the ability–or at least make it a lot harder–to genuinely have a change of heart on any issue. Would you deny Coffman the second chance on immigration that was given to, for example, Robert Byrd on race relations? Is it possible that a legitimate conversion is occuring here, rather than one of political expediency?

The text transcription of Coffman's remarks above follows. Readers, kindly sort this moral dilemma out for us. 


COFFMAN: Now first of all, I think we have to resolve, the first issue we have to resolve is legal status for those that have been here and who may have violated criminal immigration laws but have not violated criminal laws ought to be able to stay in this country indefinitely and given a legal status. I don't think there's any question about that. (applause) I think that the children who have been in this country and no other, no other country ought to have a path to citizenship, I don't think there's any question about it. (applause) And I can tell you, when we have an effective guest worker program we will then have more enforcement. It will simply happen. People will be able to come and do work and go back home and not have to cross illegally.  The, I, I have not resolved the question of a path to citizenship for the adults who came to this country, whether an overstayed visa or who, um, crossed the border illegally. I've not resolved that. I'm here to listen and I'm here to learn, and I'll certainly be available to have meetings with you.

And let me just say that I want a solution. I want a solution so, uh, my successor, and probably the successor after that, that, that we aren't here 30 or 40 years ago talking about a broken immigration system again. We need to resolve it once and for all, and, and have a solution that works for all Americans as well as the immigrants in this country. (Applause)

This bill will be about compromise. So, there may be things in it that I don't like, there may be a lot of things that I like, but the question is, does it move the country forward in the right direction. And if it does, I'm going to vote for it. (Applause)

MODERATOR: We thank you very much for your response, and, uh, just to make sure that I'm clear, that I don't feel that's a very clear yes or no definite…

COFFMAN: No (inaudible)…

MODERATOR: It's, uh, no response.

COFFMAN: I, well, I think I well expressed it.

MODERATOR: As a, we will take that as a no, but we are eager to work with you to move this country forward as you yourself mentioned. And we thank our legislators here for coming out and listening to us today, and we thank you all for the attention that you've given. Thank you very much.


28 thoughts on “Mike Coffman on the Road to Damascus?

  1. Hmm.  Conversion vs. Political Expediency.  Well, I guess if you could believe he was "converted" on abortion, you could believe it here. Personally, not so much.

  2. This is good for Democracy.  An elected representative who tacks back to the middle and supports rational solutions to complex problems is good for our country.  Who cares if it is genuine or purely political expediancy.  It is good to see Coffman get off the ideologue red meat diet.

    1. Forget the speech, let's see the votes. Cantor's promised nothing but meaningless "message" bills from the House (and Boehner can't lead from a bottle), so he will be able to tack hard-right in a primary to defeat a likely challenger.

      But CD6 is his to lose, which I hope he does!

  3.  Who cares if it is genuine or purely political expediancy.  It is good to see Coffman get off the ideologue red meat diet.

        Precisely, GG, the net result is the same.  I remember as a kid my priest telling me that I should avoid sin not out of fear of Hell but because of love of God.   I asked him if fear of Hell would work.   He allowed as it would;-)

  4. only fair to note that Sen Byrd, upon his redemption, became very supportive of racial equality for the remainder of his career. no wavering once he changed. He could have remained racist and probably never lost an election so he did not change his view for expediency

  5. OK — Due credit to Coffman. Now he's come around (partially, at least) on 1 out of a 100 issues where we likely differ.

    Can't wait to hear from ArapaGOP and Tank on Mike's conversion. (next you'll be telling me the Pope is retiring!)

    Prediction:  ArapaGOP will be supportive, and indignant that anyone would think this is anything but a humanitarian gesture on Coffman's part.

    Tank?  Not so much.

  6. If Obama should get a pass for purportedly having a chang of heart on immigration after deporting over a million people and being deciding vote in favor the poison-pill Dorgan Amendment that killed immigration reform in 2007, then surely Coffman should get one as well. 

    1. 1.  Would you be as critical of Obama if he weren't enforcing the law?

      2.  Not quite as simple as you seem to think ( :

      The Dorgan amendment, Sharry said, was payback for a successful amendment supported by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would have removed confidentiality from applications for citizenship, to make it easier to deport illegal immigrants who were refused citizenship. Both the Cornyn and the Dorgan amendments would have come out later, before the bill could move toward final passage, he said.

      "The Cornyn amendment rocked the boat one way, and the Dorgan amendment rocked the boat the other way, so it was a rocking boat," Sharry said. He rejected the idea that the Dorgan amendment sunk the deal, and as evidence, he pointed to the fact that weeks later, the Senate tried again to revive the package. On June 28, 2007, the bill went down yet again when it failed still another cloture vote. Obama voted to move forward then, too.

      1. Harry, if you remember the 2007 debates and "clay pigeon" attempts, it was the Dorgan amendment that sank the bill.  Politifact can try to spin it how it wants, but that is just the way it was. 

        As for Obama, if he weren't deporting so many people and hadn't also broken his 2008 campaign promise on immigration I'd cut him some slack on this issue.  As it stands now though he has done little (save for DACA and allowances to process certain I-601s domestically amongst other things) on the issue to warrant cutting him slack. 

        1. When Politifact spins, it tends to spin Republican. As Politifact notes, there was an amendment from Sen. Cornyn that was probably as detrimental as the Dorgan Amendment – and both Amendments could have been stripped in conference. Neither was a deal-breaker if the political will had actually been there to get it done.

    2. But that's not really the question before us, is it? 

      It's not whether we give Coffman a pass, it's whether he changed his position because he changed his mind, OR because he thought his old position would cost him the next elelction. 

      I think it's the latter. What do you think? Or do you prefer not to look behind the curtain?

      1. What, you mean that Coffman might be motivated by political considerations on this issue?  😉
        Sure, he might be.  But so might Obama.  And Harry Reid.  Neither of them is all that stellar historically on immigration.  So why inquire into only Coffman and not the other two? 😉

        1. There seems to be little point in debating which pols are more or less like Mother Teresa than other pols.

          I don't care what motivates Coffman and other Rs to change their tune on immigration reform. It won't be enough to save them from changing demographics and the nut jobs in their own party who make up majorities in so many state legislatures and who will continue to make life miserable for anyone wishing to tack closer to the middle  

          While I look forward to no longer being stuck with so many little Coffmans in the House after 2014, as long as we are, one can only welcome the opportunity to get some decent legislation on this and other matters passed sooner rather than later. If we don't have to wait until we show Coffman and friends the door in 2014 to get some good stuff done… fine.  We'll still enjoy showing  them the door.

    3. We've allready cleared up that vote by the then Senator Obama in a thread a month ago or so.

      These false flags are getting on my nerves, as it's hard to have patience with someone jerking peoples' chains and screwing around outside the margins.

      So we'll do it again, but this is bullshit.

      Senator Obama supported the Dorgan Amendment was because he was protecting Illinois blue collar workers. It wasn't a poison pill. It was a counter move to redleg legislation that would have crippled manufacturing and construction sector Illinois blue collar workers.The Bill definitely had merit to pass even with the Dorgan Amendment, which was passed, 49-48, but it was the excuse the anti-immigation copperhead contingent needed to kill it. A redleg filibuster (gee, what a surprise) enabled comprehensive immigration to collapse. By 3 votes.

      Mccain ran that con in '08, blaming the failure of this nation to enact comprehensive immigration on the Democrats in general and the President's support of the Dorgan Amendment in particular.

      2 bad options here. Either you know the true story and you're running this con up the pole to see if you can pull it off, or you are basing your accusation on a bullshit and partisan hackified column by the notorious repub shitbag hack bob novak right after the whoe thing fell apart in June '07.

      If it's the former, you're being intellectually dishonest

      If it's the latter, educate youself. You don't have the juice to play here.

      Yo're a lawyer. you oughta know better.

      Coffman doing a political 180 for the sake of keeping his cushy job's different than the principled vote by then Senator Obama in '07.

      You know that though, don't you?

      1. Rocco,

        Nice try.  Your "clearing up" is simple apologism.  The Dorgan amendment was the ultimate poison pill because it took away one of the main drivers for the GOP supporting the bill.  That is why Kennedy OPPOSED it (and Kennedy was hardly against the unions). 

        See the following:

        That did not sit well with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, principal Democratic sponsor of the compromise. Asserting that "the chicken pluckers" will not "pay $10 or $15 an hour" for homegrown employees, Kennedy asked: "Who is the senator from North Dakota trying to fool?" The liberal lion of the Senate roared that Dorgan "doesn't care more about American workers than I do."

        Teddy Kennedy had no trouble disobeying labor's marching orders by voting against Dorgan, but only 10 other Democratic senators had the courage to follow that course."

        1. I remember this pretty clearly because I was personally invested in the bill's passage for reasons I won't get into.  I actually cried when it failed. 

          1. But…………Senator Kennedy voted to end debate and vote. Your position is that the Dorgan Amendment sunk the legislation.

            It didn't. Redleg obstruction killed it. A standard repub tactic, the filibuster, killed it.

            The "chicken plucker" remark by Senator Kennedy gave way to a yes vote on the Bill.

            No, this one was, is, and allways be on the pinkos.

            1. Rocco,
              The bill was dead once the Dorgan amendment passed (which, by recollection, Reid brought up three separate times in various forms).  They tried to revive it with the clay pigeon tactic and that failed as well.  

              Couple this with Obama's deportations, his broken promise to do immigration reform his first year in office, and his apparent attempts to scuttle reform by reaching for targets he knows can't get through house this year and I feel very justified in being skeptical of Obama's motives on this issue.

              1. No. But hacks like Kyle saw their out and they took it.

                Put in plain terms, 44's following the law while trying to change it. He's changing the system while being part of it, and that's rare. And good. I'm not sure what you think his ulterior motives are but please let me know.

                The same shitbags that scream about "border security" are now whining that "Obama's deporting too many people" And even at that, Brewer, Perry, and other redlegs are screaming "the border's not secure". .

                It's the old pick the one he didn't scam. Whichever way he goes, you just pick the opposite.

                The President had a filibuster proof Senate for all of 30 days his first 2 years. So much for "he broke a promise". This business about "reaching for targets he can't get through the House"……are you kidding me? Nothing, and I mean nothing proposed by this President can stand any chance getting through "this House". Do you know who the reds in the House are?

                On one hand you excuse your own political bent and stripe in their outright racism, obstructionism, anti-immigrant bias, and nativism, which is RAMPANT in the red party. on the other, you condemn this Administration and particularly this President because, faced wth pinko obstruction at every turn, "they don't do enough"!


                1. Rocco,
                  The President had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate from April 28, 2009 (Spector switches parties) until at least August 25, 2009 (Kennedy dies – I am not sure what happened in interrim between then and his replacement getting elected).  Remember, two independents caucused with the Dems.   

                  And on immigration, I'm pretty pro-immigrant, so I am not looking to hit Obama in a "tails I win, heads he loses" manner.  I just want real immigration reform.

                  1. No.

                    Al Franken was sworn in on 7Jul09. Redleg obstruction in the form of Nom Coleman contesting the election gave the pinkos a slimy but effective coverfire for 8 months from the legally earned Democratic super majority, but on 30jun09 the Minnesota Supreme Court threw Coleman's lawsuit out, and Senator Franken was sworn in on 7Jul09.

                    About 30 days or so. Maybe 40.

                    1. You rocc, rocco!

                      But why you gotta riun a simple, clean and oh so awesome talking point about the fillibuster proof thingy?

                      SOunds so much more like Obama did nottihng if he was fillibster proof for two years   8 months  12 weeks  instead of about 29 days.

                    2. Looks like you are correct in that regard.  However, the President still found a way to ram his healthcare plan through.  Immigration to him just wasn't a priority for him despite his prior promises. 

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