Cross-posted from Denver Pols. Just a whopper WTF moment that was the talk of the Colorado delegation for the last two days.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was in Charlotte this week for the Democratic National Convention, taking part in the DNC not as a delegate but instead to “attend meetings and to promote Denver.”
And what better way to celebrate the Mile High City — where the first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will be held next month — than attacking the President whose convention you’re attending?
From Eli Stokols at Fox31 Denver:
But Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, in an interview with FOX31 Denver, went off the script, openly criticizing the Obama campaign for its sustained effort to pressure Romney to release his tax returns.
“It’s unfortunate that this campaign has gone all over the place where we’re talking about someone turning in their tax returns, things that really don’t matter to me,” Hancock told FOX31 Denver. “Someone else’s tax returns are not going to put food on the table of my neighbor who may have been unemployed for a year.”
The answer came in response to a question that had nothing to do with tax returns: [Pols Emphasis] “how do you think the president is going to win Colorado?”
“If you talk about the issues that matter to me the most: my safety, my children, my education, my jobs, my health care, now you’ve got my attention, and I’m going to tune in. So we want to turn that conversation back to the things that matter most, and the president’s been doing it. We want him to get more on that platform, and I think you’ll see more of that in this convention.”
Asked to clarify whether he was truly disappointed in the Obama campaign’s focus on Romney’s tax returns, Hancock said this:
“I think it’s my role as a Democrat, as a mayor who supports the president, to say to the president and his people, ‘Listen, it’s not about Romney; it’s about the American people’.
“And that’s just part of being an adviser and a friend and someone who supports you.”
What. The. F***?
First off, Hancock has absolutely no obligation to mirror Obama campaign talking points about tax returns or any other matter, but as the elected mayor of the largest city in a critical swing state — and as someone who thinks of himself as a potential national star — this is a pretty dumb political move. There’s no excuse for Hancock, a Democrat who has previously applauded much of Obama’s work in the White House, to go so far off message, especially when the reporter isn’t even prodding that kind of response…
Seriously, Fox31 threw the Mayor one hell of a softball question: “how do you think the president is going to win Colorado?” He wasn’t asked about the economy, about job creation, about bond yields, or anything cerebral or specific. All Hancock had to do was say something to the effect of “Colorado voters understand that Barack Obama’s policies have brought the economy back from the brink and created jobs in Denver and across the state.” Instead, he took that softball and decided to use it to criticize Obama during the freakin’ Democratic National Convention.
We don’t have any reason to believe that Hancock consciously intended to hurt Obama’s re-election campaign. Rather, his asinine remarks are a stark reminder that he is nowhere near ready for primetime politics. This was absolutely an avoidable and inexcusable mistake that Hancock walked into completely on his own. Hancock is one of the highest-profile Democrats in Colorado, but we’d venture to say that just about every other lower-tier Democrat would have been smarter about this.
As stupid as it was for Hancock to unnecessarily criticize Obama, it’s not his fault exclusively. Apparently nobody from the Mayor’s press team went with him to Charlotte. That’s right: the elected, Democratic leader of a major American city was sent into one of the biggest media frenzies of the decade without anyone to assist him. We can’t overstress how uncommon this is — even small-town politicians bring someone with them to manage interviews and appearances. This was an incredibly irresponsible error by Hancock’s staff and the Mayor himself.
Hancock can certainly recover from this, but make no mistake — this is the type of high-profile error that can dog a politician for years. This is a silly, amateurish fumble that makes Hancock look vulnerable to a challenge in 2015. It’s the kind of mistake that creates the wrong perception for such a high-profile politician. And as we all know, in politics, perception is everything.H Ft KjpI