DENVER

Hickenlooper Haunted By 'Backward-Thinking' Comment

10/22/2010 08:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A 2009 interview at a Matthew Shepard Foundation event is coming back to haunt Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper.

Matthew Shepard attended the University of Wyoming when he was brutally beaten to death in 1998 for being gay. In memory of his death, Shepard's parents formed the Matthew Shepard Foundation in a public effort to prevent hate crimes.

Asked the reason why the Matthew Shepard Foundation would be based in Colorado, Mayor Hickenlooper told the interviewer:

"I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backward-thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico."

Opponents quickly seized on Hickenlooper's perceived slam of rural Western areas when the video resurfaced on Friday. The Denver Mayor's closest rival, American Constitution Party Candidate Tom Tancredo, called for Hickenlooper to apologize. "To suggest that people in rural Colorado are 'backwards' because they don't share your left-wing values reinforces once again just how out of touch you are," Tancredo told the Denver Post.

The Hickenlooper campaigned objected to criticisms of the statement, saying in a statement; "John was making the point that the kind of intolerance that led to Matthew Shepard's murder is not unique to a single community in Wyoming."

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