Rep. Mike Coffman may have apologized for his comments about President Barack Obama's citizenship and statement that he's 'not an American,' but the fallout may wind up costing him his congressional seat this November.
At a fundraiser in Elbert County last weekend, Congressman Coffman shared some startling thoughts about President Barack Obama, stating:
I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American.
Ever since 9News first reported the story, Coffman, and his comments, have been critiqued on radio shows, local news segments and made national headlines -- see Chris Matthews' reaction and ridicule of Coffman and the birther phenomenon in politics above from Thursday's "Hardball" episode.
Listen to Coffman's original quote below recorded at an Elbert County fundraiser last weekend:
Before redistricting, this kind of "birther" quote may not have cost Coffman much more than perhaps some embarrassment, but Coffman's once solidly Republican suburban Denver seat (District 6) became much more competitive toward the end of 2011 when a Colorado judge ruled in favor of a Democratic-drawn redistricting map. And Coffman's Democratic challenger, a once relatively unknown Rep. Joe Miklosi, is taking full advantage of this opportunity.
On Wednesday night, Coffman issued an apology once his comment became public completely walking back from his original statement about Obama's citizenship. "I misspoke and I apologize," Coffman said about the comments in Elbert County in a written statement. "I have confidence in President Obama’s citizenship and legitimacy as President of the United States."
Coffman went on to say in his written apology: "However, I don't believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism. His policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many equals. As a Marine, I believe America is unique and based on a core set of principles that make it superior to other nations."
But, Miklosi has remained critical of Coffman's statement and has remained on the offensive since the news broke. Miklosi first slammed Coffman to Fox31 the night the audio clip became public saying, "These outrageous comments once again make clear that Mike Coffman is Colorado’s version of Rush Limbaugh."
Then on Thursday, Miklosi told The Denver Post, "It's unfortunate we have elected officials making these kinds of untruthful statements. It shows [Coffman's] true colors, as he thought he could undermine the office of the presidency."
The Democrat has continued his criticism of Coffman on his Facebook page, "It's shameful and appalling that Congressman Mike Coffman said President Obama was in his heart 'not an American,'" Miklosi wrote while also asking supporters to contribute to his campaign.
Miklosi told The Denver Post that the phones in his campaign office have been ringing off the hook since the Coffman news broke, ""Even Republicans are calling and saying they're embarrassed by the statements," Miklosi said.
On Coffman's own Facebook page, he's received many comments from both supporters and critics, so the true measure of what this statement has done to him may not be known until November. But Fox31 political analyst Eric Sondermann thinks that although Coffman is far from losing the race with this kind of statement, it certainly doesn't bode well for the veteran Republican either, calling his statement an "early Christmas gift from Mike Coffman to Joe Miklosi."
After meeting with hardline birther Donald Trump, Republican Presidential contender Rick Perry told Parade Magazine "doesn't have a definitive answer" on whether Obama was born in the United States. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/23/rick-perry-obama-birth-certificate_n_1027123.html" target="_hplink">Perry said</a> that in discussing the birther issue with Trump, he told Trump "I don't have any idea. It doesn't really matter ... It's a distractive issue."
Mitt Romney <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53073.html" target="_hplink">has said definitively</a> that he believes President Obama was born in the United States. "The citizenship test has been passed," Romney said in April, adding "there are real reasons to get this guy out of office."
Presidential hopeful Ron Paul has <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/04/ron-paul-is-not-a-birther.html" target="_hplink">brushed aside</a> the birther question, saying there's obviously no legitimacy to the claims that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. "I never bring it up," Paul told MSNBC's Chris Matthews in April. "I'm going to leave it to talk show hosts and to Donald Trump, and let you guys argue it out."
From HuffPost's Sam Stein: <blockquote>Fueling the myth mongering that Barack Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in a recent interview that the president may follow a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview.</blockquote> Gingrich <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/246302/gingrich-obama-s-kenyan-anti-colonial-worldview-robert-costa" target="_hplink">told the <em>National Review</em></a>, "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?"
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/potential-gop-candidates-face-birther-question/2011/03/16/ABnx1Em_story.html" target="_hplink">has stated</a> he has no doubt President Obama was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen, a spokesperson told the <em>Washington Post</em> in March. Santorum <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53743.html#ixzz1bceW5pAx" target="_hplink">told fellow Republicans</a>, "He has a certificate of birth, which is what, if you ask for the record of birth in Hawaii, that is what they give you." After dismissing the birther issue, he said there are plenty of other things to dislike about the current president.