Colorado: No slamming in GOP, former congressman says |

Colorado: No slamming in GOP, former congressman says

Lynn Bartels
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Former Congressman Scott McInnis, who bragged he could beat Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall, said today his comments weren’t meant as a criticism of GOP contender Bob Schaffer.

McInnis said he was simply responding to a question from an online news site about whether he could have beaten Udall if he had stayed in the race and won the GOP primary.

“I’ve got enough confidence in myself to say I could. This wasn’t a ‘Hey, could you have done a better job than Schaffer?’ or ‘Did Schaffer do something wrong?'” McInnis said.

“That was not the context of that interview. Not at all. It was how does this party rebuild after the election and where is it going to go,” he added.

McInnis told the Rocky he left a phone message for Schaffer explaining that. Schaffer is campaigning on the Western Slope in the towns McInnis used to represent in Congress.

“Well, I’m the candidate and I’m going to win this race,” Schaffer said earlier when told of McInnis’ remarks in the Colorado Independent.

The online news site reported today that McInnis believes the GOP has veered too far to the right in recent years.

“I would have beat Udall,” McInnis is quoted as saying.

“Frankly, I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election. My biggest threat was getting through the primary. Both parties have a pretty radical element to them,” McInnis is quoted as saying.

Some Republicans were taken aback by McInnis’ remarks. They pointed out that two years ago McInnis ripped on Republican Bob Beauprez’s gubernatorial staff when a poll showed him losing handily to Democrat Bill Ritter.

“The Beauprez interview was specifically about the management of that campaign,” McInnis said. “This interview had nothing to do with the Schaffer campaign. Like I told Bob, ‘I never said anything about you.'”

McInnis, who left Congress in 2004, said he believes the Senate race would be much closer if the economy hadn’t spiraled downward in the last four weeks. The latest Rocky Mountain News/CBS4 poll shows Udall with a 13-point lead.

McInnis dropped out of the Senate race in March 2007, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. But his decision came shortly after a statewide Republican meeting where his address to the crowd produced mild applause, and Schaffer was greeted with several standing ovations.

Alan Salazar, Udall’s congressional chief of staff, said he believes that Udall would still be ahead if McInnis were in the race.

“This was a good year for Mark,” Salazar said, referring to anti-Republican sentiment.

But Salazar said McInnis would have been a much different opponent to run against. He said McInnis is more moderate than Schaffer, “whose record is on the fringe,” and McInnis accomplished more in Congress than Schaffer did.

Schaffer on Tuesday also had to contend with the news that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $2 million on attack ads against Udall, is pulling out of the state.

“Schaffer is no longer a viable candidate,” the chamber’s political director, Bill Miller, said, according to The Washington Post.

“I’d have more of a reaction if it was someone familiar with the people of Colorado,” Schaffer said. “As far as I know Bill Miller doesn’t live here in Colorado.”

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