GOP Senate candidate: Party has made mistakes
Vail, CO Colorado
BROOMFIELD, Colorado – Saying his party has made its share of mistakes, former congressman Bob Schaffer accepted the Republican Party nomination on Saturday to run for Colorado’s open U.S. Senate seat.
“If we’re going to compete successfully against Democrats, let’s face it. We need to have a bit of introspection and look at our own party. We could sustain a little reform,” Schaffer told cheering delegates to the party’s state assembly in a north-Denver suburb.
Schaffer said he stood up against his own party when he thought it was wrong, including President Bush and party leaders who supported education reform that Schaffer thought was ill-advised.
Schaffer was nominated by Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, who is retiring after two terms. The nomination was seconded by former Gov. Bill Owens.
Schaffer will face Democratic congressman Mark Udall in November. Udall won the Democratic nomination in his party’s state convention May 17.
Republicans said they believe they can hold onto the seat after losses that included a U.S. Senate seat, a congressional seat, control of the state House, the state Senate and the governor’s office over the past four years.
“It’s time for the Republican Party to put a flag in the ground. This is the year to do it,” said state Sen. Josh Penry, a Republican from western Colorado, who also seconded the nomination.
Schaffer said Democrats profess bipartisanship, but instead have engaged in single-party politics.
“Democrats say bipartisanship is a standalone virtue, but they propose as a solution single party dominance in Colorado and the U.S. Congress,” Schaffer said.
He also took a jab at Udall, saying that liberal ideas originate in his home county of Boulder. Schaffer later apologized to the Boulder delegation.
“What they offer is not change, it’s just putting lipstick on a pig,” Schaffer said.
During his speech, Schaffer did not mention mounting criticism of his perceived ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and attempts by Democrats to emphasize his ties to big oil at a time when many Coloradans are angry over soaring gas prices. Democratic activists have branded him with the moniker “Big Oil Bob” along with computer ads depicting him riding an oil rig.
While in Congress, Schaffer voted to give the industry $13 billion in tax breaks.
Schaffer also has been dogged by reports that a trip he took to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, as a congressman was partly arranged by Abramoff’s firm.
Schaffer was a congressman from Colorado’s 4th District when he traveled to the South Pacific archipelago in 1999 to look into allegations of labor abuse in the territory’s textile industry.
Before he left, his staff let him know that the travel arrangements had been made by a lobbying firm and they were looking into what role the firm had in the trip, according to a memo from Schaffer’s congressional archive first reported by The Denver Post.
The firm was Preston-Gates, Abramoff’s firm, and Schaffer’s staff noted that the schedule for the trip included a lunch with current and former Preston-Gates clients ” including the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government.
Abramoff pleaded guilty in January 2006 to mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion in connection with his lobbying activities and a business deal. He is serving a sentence of about six years.
Schaffer’s campaign has countered by repeated references to Udall as “Boulder Liberal Mark Udall” in hopes of portraying him as out of touch with Colorado’s mainstream.
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