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November 20, 2014 11:38 AM UTC

Hickenlooper Unfiltered Again--The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  • by: Colorado Pols
Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As Americans wait to hear from President Barack Obama this evening on the subject of immigration reform executive orders, the Wall Street Journal interviewed Colorado's recently re-elected Gov. John Hickenlooper yesterday–and some of Hickenlooper's remarks are raising eyebrows today. As reported by WSJ's Reid Epstein, Hick began with some indirect criticism of Sen. Mark Udall's unsuccessful re-election campaign that we think is shared by many Democrats:

“We stayed on the economy the whole time,” he told Wall Street Journal reporters and editors Wednesday. “We kept coming back to the economy. These are objective sources ranking state economies across the country and we are in the top four of every major assessment.”

Mr. Hickenlooper’s victory explanation came as an inherent rebuke to Mr. Udall, who lost to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner after running a heavily negative campaign focused on social issues. Mr. Udall skipped an appearance on his behalf at a Denver fundraiser – and Mr. Hickenlooper said it was a mistake to reject a visit from the president of the United States.

“My gosh, the president of the United States calls you and you’re going to say ‘No,’?” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “The president of the United States calls and asks for your time, I think generally you should find a way to do it.”

We wanted to start with this comment from Hickenlooper about Mark Udall's decision to avoid President Obama even as Obama campaigned in Colorado on Udall's behalf, because we think it's dead-on. In retrospect, we do not believe that hiding from Obama helped Udall in the least. On the contrary, the Democratic base cheered pictures of Hickenlooper and the President shooting pool together at the Wynkoop Brewery.

The consensus view since the election is that Udall's intense focus on abortion and women's reproductive issues–particularly when that came at the expense of articulating Udall's own case for re-election–was a major strategic blunder. Hickenlooper was criticized during the campaign for refusing to "go negative" against his opponent, who had an enormous wealth of negatives to work with. Instead, Hickenlooper stayed positive, focused on the state's strong economy recovery, and in the end was vindicated by re-election in a very strong Republican year.

So there's that, and we think a lot of readers will agree. But then Hickenlooper turns to the issue of immigration, apropos with Obama's announcement coming tonight. And Democrats waiting nervously since the election can reset their counters–the number of days without a major trip off the proverbial reservation by Hickenlooper is once again zero:

Immigration: Mr. Hickenlooper predicted Mr. Obama’s executive action, to be announced Thursday, will “be very combustible.” He proposed that instead of pushing Congress to enact last year’s Senate legislation, the White House should give up on the path to citizenship that has most inflamed opponents to an immigration overhaul.

“What’s amazing to me is, a lot of young Latinos, the vast majority don’t care about a pathway to citizenship,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. “They want to be able to get on an airplane and get down to Mexico City and visit their grandparents. And they want to get a job and be able to get paid over the table. Why don’t we just take the pathway to citizenship and say, ‘We’re not going to worry about it.’ Let’s have a robust guest worker system where everybody gets five years and we secure the border and we actually hold business accountable if they’re going to pay people under the table.”

There's really no way to spin these comments. Immigration reform advocates we've heard from are absolutely furious over the suggestion that "the vast majority" of immigrants don't want a pathway to citizenship. We don't think Hickenlooper intended this, but these comments could be interpreted as demeaning to the many immigrants who most certainly do want to become American citizens, and who have served as the face of the immigration reform movement for many years. Frankly, we'd like to know more about where Hickenlooper got this stuff, but in the meantime there seems to be consensus that these comments were not helpful to the larger goal of enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

We're watching, as we've seen with previous "Hickengaffes," to see this promptly walked back.


16 thoughts on “Hickenlooper Unfiltered Again–The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  1. Perhaps Hick was speaking of path to citizenship in the very near term, ie, let's start with some of the easier things to do, put PTC on the back burner for right now and revisit after Obama's action, and if the GOP can't pull its head out, then yes, let's move on without them. 

    1. I think that's a reasonable interpretation even though I don't agree with even that if that's indeed what Hick means. I think we'll see the same thing happen with immigration reform that is happening with acceptance of gay marriage; a sudden tipping point that makes the whole thing, not just interim steps like civil unions ( never mind that's all legal marriage really is with religious marriage entirely optional in the US)  suddenly not only possible but inevitable and we'll shoot right past the need for proposals like Hick's. In the meantime, temporary action to mitigate the effects of our present system by the President makes perfect sense. 

  2. I have to agree with AC on this one.  Hick has a difference of opinion with the author of this piece.  Unlike Republicans and rapid liberals, I'm unwilling to call that a gaffe.  Do you have any evidence that what he said about young Latino's wanting to go the Mexico to see their grandparents isn't true?  Perhaps that would be a starting place for your argument.  At least then you could say he got his facts wrong.

    But, you can't be surprised by this response from Hick.  The spineless man who never wants to make a controversial decision, who wants everyone to like him and who is just as much a community organizer as the Pres., well, that's just who the people of Colorado re-elected.  No change here.  So why should you be surprised or shocked?  I'm happy to say that for the next four years, at least I didn't vote the guy, and I didn't vote for the horse's ass candidate either.

    1. Bravo. It should be offensive to legal immigrants that Obama wants to let these lawbreakers cut in line anyway. I say good for Hickenlooper. Let's benefit from the cheap labor and let immigrants benefit from better jobs, but citizenship should be both earned and deserved.

      1. You're entitled to your opinion on who should be offended, modster, though  you certainly don't speak for anyone but yourself. But if you expect to get anywhere with the whole Obama is trashing the constitution, breaking the law, assuming dictatorial powers thing, you're going to be deeply disappointed. It was legal when Reagan, Bush and other Presidents chose to exercise their executive authority and it's legal now.

        If you don't like it, start a petition to Boehner demanding that he release the bipartisan legislation passed in the Senate from the bottle he's been keeping it in, refusing to allow it to come to the floor, so they can do what all of you are hypocritically demanding all of a sudden …. reform immigration policy via the legislative route, something the Republican House has utterly refused to do.  Republicans can replace Obama's fixes with legislation any old time you bloviating hypocrites want to and you know it. Put up or shut up.

    2. Craig, you are correct that calling it a gaffe isn't consistent with the concept of "gaffe". It's Hick's position, agree or don't. I don't but that doesn't make it a gaffe.

  3. If anyone thought Hick was ever presidential material, and I never did, this should kill that idea immediately. He's a Geologist in a state with particularly dumb and crazy Republicans.

    1. and, this is Hick's rather clumsy attempt to triangulate away from Obama. Something all his consultants most likely approved, but something Democratic voters are sick of, and something D-electeds almost certainly won't learn from the last election.

      1. I don't think this is triangulating. Hick is what he is and this opinion seems pretty consistent with that. He already got elected and I suspect the dreams of becoming President that are attributed to him are highly exaggerated. He's not presidential material.  It's never going to happen and I'm pretty sure he knows that. He might like to be part of an administration someday but you don't have to get elected to that. It helps to be inoffensive enough to get confirmed .

        He's never been anything but center right and he's never been a partisan Dem. You pretty much have to pick one (Dem) or the other (R) to go into politics. He chose Dem but has always given the impression he'd just as soon not have a party identification if that were possible.

        If he were such a cynical panderer he wouldn't have welcomed Obama when Dems all around him were treating their President like toxic waste and he wouldn't have taken such an unpopular position on the death penalty. I disagree with Hick on plenty of stuff, especially concerning Big Oil and Gas, but I don't think he pretends to believe things he doesn't really believe. 

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