Littwin: Ellen Roberts’ abortion fib grenades Senate run
June 8, 2015
So, now, thanks to state Sen. Ellen Roberts, we know the answer to the question of how you run for U.S. Senate as a pro-choice Republican.
You guessed it: You don't.
I wrote the other day that Colorado Republicans were desperate to find another Cory Gardner to run against Michael Bennet for the U.S. Senate when, of course, they know there isn't another Gardner.
I could have put it another way. They're just as desperate not to field another Ken Buck, who, you'll recall, blew himself up in his race against Bennet the last time.
And now, they can add Roberts to their Buck list. She blew up even faster than Buck, if not quite as dramatically. You'll recall that Buck hit the final self-detonator on national TV.
Roberts, the state Senate pro tem, is that rarest of things – a moderate Republican politician. You can apparently be a moderate Republican and win a state Senate seat in Durango. But you can't be pro-choice and win a U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado.
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She must have known that. Everyone knows that. And yet, she was apparently willing to test the theory, so when Mike Coffman announced he wasn't going to run against Bennet — positing that he was too valuable in his role in the House, which is, I guess, one way to look at it – the only person out there who had floated her own name for the job was, yes, Roberts.
And so, she agreed to go on Dan Caplis' radio show, even though she was entirely unprepared to answer the most obvious question. Yeah, Jeb Bush did the same thing about the Iraq War, but Jeb Bush is Jeb Bush. And Roberts? When Caplis asks her about her pro-choiceness and how it would work in the Republican primary, she reached for what she thought was the panic button.
You could hear the noise from here to the Strater Hotel.
Here's the Roberts quote, according to The Durango Herald: "I've never called myself pro-choice as a politician," she answered, saying that she believed women should have a "full array" of choices.
The problem is that she has said many times she was pro-choice. And, it wasn't long before Colorado Pols had the video of her on the floor of the state Senate saying she was "pro-choice." The fact is, she has, again, said — adamantly and repeatedly — she is pro-choice. She might as well have said she never claimed to have two feet.
So why did she lie? That's easy: Because she didn't know what else to say. She had voted for the fetal-homicide/personhood bill in the state Senate this year to try to make the problem go away. We saw how that worked out: Her pro-choice allies dumped her, and all her anti-abortion foes were unswayed.
There were only two ways for her to deal with the issue on the Caplis show. Either just admit you are pro-choice and say if that's a deal breaker, then it's a deal breaker. Or, secondly, don't go on the Caplis show. Caplis ardently opposes abortion. I'm guessing it's definitely a deal-breaker for him.
When he asked Roberts whether she would vote for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee who thought Roe v. Wade was "correctly decided," she said it was an "excellent" question and that, should she ever decide to actually run, she'd actually answer it.
And that, as they say, was that.
After her blow-up, she tried to apologize. She told the Herald, "I would like to correct my statement from the 'Dan Caplis Show' in that I spoke in error when I was on the radio show the other day and said I never described myself as pro-choice. I would like it out there that I made a mistake. I should not have used that word 'never,' and it's been a continual learning curve to me in terms of how the labels are attached to people."
She didn't just speak in error. She didn't just make a mistake. She told a gigantic, easily provable whopper that she can never walk back. All politicians lie. No successful politician breaks the Pinocchio machine the first time out.
You can see the problem here. You can't be a moderate and win the Republican nomination. You can't be too hard right and win a U.S. Senate seat.
You have to be Gardner and come up with some way to pretend you're both. Only Gardner could get away with saying he was once pro-personhood because he didn't understand the ramifications of personhood — even though he obviously did understand them and even though he obviously co-sponsored a federal personhood bill, which he defended by saying there was no federal personhood bill.
You think Roberts could match that? You think anyone could?
Coffman's non-Buckness was his principal attraction. Despite his brief flirtation with birthers and despite his bizarre post-flirtation interview with 9News' Kyle Clark, Coffman is basically a guy unlikely to compare being gay to being an alcoholic or to announce his intention to repeal the 17th Amendment (bonus points for anyone who has never watched Glenn Beck who knows which amendment that is). But, that wasn't enough to convince him he could compete.
So, at last count, it's no Coffman. No Buck. Definitely no Roberts.
Mike Littwin writes a column for the Colorado Independent.
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