Mike Coffman really wants to talk about Donald Trump.
This would seem counterintuitive as a political strategy, but Coffman’s re-election campaign seems convinced that continuing to talk about his support/non-support for Trump is somehow going to help him defeat Democrat Morgan Carroll in November.
Mark Matthews of the Denver Post has the details on Coffman’s strange legal challenge this week regarding his sorta-support for Trump:
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Thursday demanded that a major Democratic booster stop sending Colorado voters an attack piece about him because he says the political mailer inaccurately describes his stance — or lack thereof — on Donald Trump.
Specifically, Coffman is disputing the flier’s assertion that he supports the Republican presidential nominee. Coffman, R-Aurora, is running for re-election in a swing district that curls east around Denver, and he has made a point of not saying either way whether he backs Trump — which is why his attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the House Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Democratic House candidates.
The mailer makes the claim that “Mike Coffman Supports Donald Trump And That Puts America’s Safety At Risk,” according to a copy included in the correspondence.
“The advertisement includes false statements prohibited by Colorado law,” notes attorney Jonathan Anderson in a letter to the House Majority PAC. “Mike Coffman has never indicated that he supports Donald Trump as a candidate for President.” [Pols emphasis]
This isn’t an argument about semantics. You can’t accuse someone of distorting your position when you refuse to make that position clear yourself. Let’s go back to what Coffman spokesperson Kristin Strohm said about his support for Trump back in February, via Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:
“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes.”
Coffman could easily put this whole argument to rest by stating clearly that he DOES NOT SUPPORT Donald Trump for President, but he won’t do that. As we’ve discussed in this space in the past, Coffman perhaps feels he cannot do that because of the risk that pro-Trump voters in CD-6 would abandon him.
Coffman continues to play this strange game over Trump in large part because media outlets like the Denver Post let him get away with it. Former Political Editor and current Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett never misses an opportunity to throw Coffman a life preserver, and neither does Matthews. Take this paragraph from Matthews’s story today:
A spokesman for House Majority PAC defended the flier, and noted a past statement by a Coffman aide who said the congressman “obviously” would support the Republican candidate over a Democrat. That was long before Trump clinched the nomination, however. [Pols emphasis]
Huh? Coffman’s spokesperson said he would “support the Republican nominee [for President],” but that doesn’t matter because it was before Trump clinched the nomination? That’s completely absurd. If his spokesperson was wrong in saying that Coffman would support the nominee, then Coffman should just say as much. But Coffman doesn’t want to do that; in his story today, Matthews even quotes a different Coffman spokesperson repeating that Coffman hasn’t decided not to support Trump.
Mike Coffman, and only Mike Coffman, is responsible for being ambiguous about Donald Trump.
Again, Coffman could settle this argument at any time by just saying, one way or the other, whether he supported Trump for President. We’d say it’s probably too late for Coffman to sincerely oppose Trump at this point, but it’s still on his shoulders; if Coffman refuses to say that he does not support Trump, then by logical default we must rely on his spokesperson’s statement from earlier this year.
Obviously Coffman is trying to play both sides here so that he doesn’t lose support based on what he says about Trump. This isn’t complicated.