We're at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood for Live Blog coverage of the GOP Gubernatorial Debate. We've got Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, and Mike Kopp battling it out once more. Tom Tancredo is not here, as expected. They're calling this "Women and Colorado's Future."
*All comments are paraphrased unless in direct quotes.
This was billed as a debate centered around "Women and Colorado's Future," and it was about as insulting to women as you could get. It would have been difficult to make this look less genuine, though it would have helped — a lot — to not play the theme song of "The Dating Game" after every break. It's hard to explain how uncomfortable it was in the room every time that song came up and the candidates tried to chuckle about it. What a disaster.
As for the candidates…they should have been on the phone raising money instead. With the exception of Beauprez's closing statement, every answer was cliche and meaningless; none of the candidates did anything to distinguish themselves.
The winner tonight is obvious: Tom Tancredo. Beauprez, Kopp, and Gessler all sounded the same, and there was very little fire or emotion here. It's hard to imagine an undecided Republican voter watching this debate and walking away with a strong impression of anyone on stage.
One-minute closing statements.
Gessler: "I've had the chance to live the American dream." Says he jumped out of airplanes with the army, managed construction company, built a law firm, studied overseas, rode his bike across the country (we're not making any of this up, BTW). "A great society of freedom and opportunity."
Kopp: "I have four amazing kids, and a remarkable wife." Kopp says his oldest son is an aspiring Army Ranger, and "I couldn't be more proud of you, son." Says he won't quit, which is swell.
Beauprez: Talks about losing his father 10 years ago. Says his father put a big hand on his shoulder, "almost like he was passing the baton." This is an excellent closing statement from Beauprez — the most heartfelt and honest we've seen him. Where did this come from?
Running out of time. Next question about Nathan Dunlap.
Gessler: "I would have let justice go forward."
Kopp: The families who lost their kids and their loved ones deserved better. "I would sign the execution order."
Beauprez: "Nathan Dunlap will be executed." Classy.
Next audience question: What would you have done differently had you been Governor the last 4-8 years?
Kopp: Says he authored legislation that would have opted Colorado out of Obamacare. Says he would love to ask Hickenlooper, "When I was trying to get Colorado out of Obamacare, why didn't you help me?" Someone should explain to Kopp that Hickenlooper is a Democrat.
Gessler: Says he would have put a "Welcome to Colorado" sign on his door. Complains about Magpul leaving Colorado (did they actually leave yet?) Gessler says he would have built a world-class education and transportation system in Colorado…in four years? And he would have cured cancer, and everyone would be rich. And we would have fruit punch in every drinking fountain. "Shit" isn't this full of shit.
Beauprez: Says we are #22 in economic value among states. Says Utah is #1 in job creation and economic growth. It used to be Colorado, "the envy of the entire nation."
Next question: How would you deal with Democrats accusing Republicans of waging a "war on women?"
Beauprez: Says 1/3rd of our kids can't read at a third-grade level. Don't know what that has to do with this question.
Gessler: "I think we have to take that head-on." Says Barack Obama and Mark Udall clearly discriminate against women. Says the New York Times just fired a woman as editor in chief. Why those two items are connected is not clear.
Kopp: Brings up Ronald Reagan for the 10th time. If you wonder why Republicans have trouble attracting young voters, it doesn't help that candidates like Kopp keep bringing up a President who left office in 1988 and has been dead for 10 years.
Now we are into audience questions. Protecting children from negative impact of marijuana.
Kopp: When I was Senate Minority Leader, I authored a bill to outlaw "spice." Also says he outlawed a drug that he apparently can't remember the name of. Says he would enforce, very aggressively, the laws around kids and making sure they don't get those drugs. Also would keep DUI drivers off the roads.
Gessler: "Our state has just screwed up about marijuana." Then…he says, "we need to put in more regulations." Weed hurts people's health, and it's bad. Are they aware that Colorado voters have overwhelmingly approved increasing legalization over and over and over?
Beauprez: I would ask Hickenlooper if he has used any of that money from marijuana to fund law enforcement. Um, Bob, the money from marijuana sales was specifically allocated in Amendment 64.
John Andrews jumps in: "There's nothing recreational about using marijuana. It is not a celebration — it's a poison."
"Name a woman you admire, not including your wife or mother." The fact that the questioner thought this qualifier was needed tells you everything you need to know about this "Women and Colorado's Future" shtick.
Beauprez: A woman who worked in his bank.
Kopp: There is a woman in this audience (whose name he butchers). Kopp says she is an immigrant from Colombia. Says he calls her "The Colombian Hurricane."
Gessler: "Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony." This could not get any more ridiculous. Asked to name a woman he admires, Gessler can't even come up with someone who is actually alive today.
Questions we'd like to see asked: How come none of you can raise any money?
And…we're back. And they are STILL playing the theme song to "The Dating Game" for a debate titled "Women and Colorado's Future." You can't make this up.
Looks like we're taking a break. First quarter ends, with the score tied at zero.
Tancredo has succeeded at taking over this debate by not being here. He's been mentioned more than Hickenlooper. If you want Tancredo to start showing up to debates, maybe it would help to not talk about him so much?
How will you appeal to women?
Kopp mumbles something.
Beauprez says "re-establishing trust" is the key.
Gessler: "We have to be non-judgmental and respectful."
So on the one question that was really targeted at the entire point of this debate, all three candidates swing…and miss.
Next question about making Colorado more business-friendly. Apparently you have to pay taxes and stuff. Bummer.
Beauprez: "We're going to establish a portal." That would sound odd coming from anyone else, but not from Beauprez.
Gessler: "I'll cut taxes and fees."
Kopp: Says Denver Business Journal likes his plan to grow business. "Our state will be hiring like crazy."
Next question: How would you deal with Democrats who might not approve of your agenda in the legislature?
Kopp: I was in that position (as a State Senator in 2007). In that environment, I got a tax cut passed of $10 million. I passed comprehensive immigration reform. What the hell is he talking about?
Next question. Panelist says it shows respect for women that the three candidates are here. They set the bar pretty low, apparently. Here's the question: "How would you distinguish yourself from the other two candidates?"
Gessler: Nothing of interest.
Kopp: Angry about Tancredo not being here and participating in public debate. Talks about his meetings with Hickenlooper and how after you leave the room, you don't know what he is going to decide. Alright, then.
Beauprez: "I was asked the day I announced for this office, what would you do differently? I said, 'Show up!'" Says Hick reacts, doesn't have an agenda, doesn't enforce laws. Says Hickenlooper granted a reprieve, but leaves this completely vague (if you didn't know the background of Hickenlooper's Death Penalty issue, this would make no sense to you).
Next question, says a panelist, is about a "new women's issue" coming this fall…fracking???
Beauprez: I support fracking. "Let good science guide good policy." We can't tell the energy industry, "you're not welcome here." Says 1/3 of the offices in downtown Denver are occupied by energy companies, and they will go away if we are mean to them.
Kopp: "Our government is trying to disempower the citizens of our state." Says people own mineral rights, and this is a private property right. Who are these "people" who own all these mineral rights?
Gessler: Won't comment on specific potential ballot issues because as SOS it is his job to review them. 100,000 jobs, says Gessler, most of them blue-collar. Throwing job numbers around is fun. Why not 1 million? 100 million?
Next question is about immigration.
Gessler: Federal government problem. We need to enforce our laws. The Executive Branch — the Governor — should enforce laws.
Beauprez: In 2009, I wrote a chapter in a book devoted to this question…go check it out (whaaaa???). Says he will "ban together with my fellow Governors" to enforce the laws. Looks like Beauprez has already elected himself.
Kopp: Uses "Beacon on a Hill" line. Says he has long supported starting any policy with a secure border. In other words, he's also punting on this question. None of the candidates have anything to say that is remotely related to policy that could be implemented in Colorado.
First question from the panel: What are the most important issues?
Really? That's your first question?
Kopp says it's the economy and that we need a Governor who will fight back against Washington. Apparently we are at war with Washington.
Gessler says economy and jobs.
Beauprez says economy…then starts talking about education. Says 30% of 3rd graders statewide can't read at a grade level.
Beauprez blames Hickenlooper for releasing Evan Ebel, the man who killed Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements. That's a pretty awful thing to say. Lots of murmuring in the crowd.
Andrews says "for the record," we have great respect for Gov. Hickenlooper. Saying "for the record" in this case is kind of like saying "no offense" after you tell someone they have an ugly shirt.
It's time for the four women on the panel to ask questions.
Gessler talking now. Says he is looking forward to specific questions. So are we all. This "debate" is 30 minutes in, and so far it's been just buzzwords and focus-grouped phrases.
"I've cut fees in office…by over $3 and a half million dollars." This is also why Gessler's Secretary of State office has a huge budget problem. "I've proven that conservative ideas in government work."
Gessler is throwing out a lot of numbers trying to explain how he has been successful as SOS. Says he'll cut taxes and fees as Governor. Apparently considering how the state could be run without funding.
Mike Kopp up next. Starts by talking about his campaign, trying to explain that he is a "grassroots candidate." This is code for "I can't raise money."
"You do what you have to do when you are a grassroots candidate and working hard."
Beauprez up next. Didn't catch the question, but here's Bob on the plague of liberals. "Those of you who are women in the audience opened the mail to see rising health care costs." Only women open the mail? Huh? It's getting a little awkward with the four women 'panelists' sitting just to the right of the candidates.
John Andrews just read a script for an advertisement. Unclear if this was for KNUS or Colorado Christian University.
Somebody woke Gessler up so he could speak. Blue suit, blue shirt, red tie. Gessler keeps saying something about "gaming the system."
Mike Kopp is next, wearing a dark suit and bright green tie. He starts by pointing out his wife and saying he's fortunate to be able to campaign with her because he doesn't always get to be with her on the campaign. This is not the first time we've heard Kopp say this, and it's not like we're spending a lot of time with the likely fourth-place candidate. Maybe he should mix it up a bit.
Kopp says he grew up in South Dakota riding bulls.
Kopp says when he was in the State Senate, his most important job "was advancing freedom." Whatever that means.
"I'm Bob Beauprez. I pray, and would be pleased, to be your next Governor." Okay.
Scott Gessler couldn't look more bored.
Beauprez in his typical outfit (gray suit, red tie), gets to go first with opening remarks. "How many of you are Colorado natives?" asks Beauprez.
Beauprez talking about how he was a farmer once and sold cows around the world. And magic beans.
In a debate intended to highlight how Republican candidates really don't hate women, it took two minutes for Andrews to make a joke about calling up four women to play "The Dating Game." Unbelievable.
The Denver Nuggets will pick 11th in the NBA Draft in June (the NBA Draft Lottery was just held).
Former Republican Senate President John Andrews is moderating. They're calling this debate "Women and Colorado's Future."
It's game time. There is whooping and even some hollering.
The debate will air live on KNUS 710 AM. Radio host Steve Kelley is emceeing right now and trying to teach the crowd how to clap on cue (no, seriously). Kelley is wearing a big neck brace and trying to excite the crowd by telling them to yell and cheer as though Gov. John Hickenlooper had just lost his bid for re-election. To pretend, in other words.