Back in May, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck had this exchange with Jim Pfaff, the social-conservative flag-bearer at 560 KLZ radio.
Pfaff: "These social issues, like marriage, these are critical issues. It has been one of the great weaknesses of the Republican Party not to deal with these critical issues."
Buck: "I agree with you that I think it has been a weakness of the Republican Party in the United States Senate, and I think it's time that we look at the people we are sending back to Washington DC and making sure those people are sticking by the values they espouse on the campaign trail."
Then, on Thursday, The Denver Post quoted Buck as saying:
"I am not going to Washington, D.C., with a social agenda, and to create that misperception is wrong," he said.
But for Thursday's story, The Post failed to ask social conservatives in Denver what they thought of Buck's "buckpedal" on social issues, as Colorado Pols has termed Buck's abandonment of stated positions he held during the primary. So I'll do it here, to fill the journalistic gap.
I mean no one would argue that Buck didn't go the extra mile, especially for specific audiences, to make it clear that he was going to Washington with a social agenda, as the exchange above illustrates.
Buck's positions on social issues included, among others:
Opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest
Opposition to giving a 14-year-old girl raped by her 13-year-old brother the option to use the "morning after pill"
Belief in the idea that the "stage of development" when humans become "persons" is the "single cell," which would ban fertilization procedures
Support of Personhood Amendment giving citizenship rights to fertilized eggs
Opposition to common forms of birth control
Pledge to oppose "pro-abortion" judicial nominees or any person applying for any government position.
Pledge to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning abortion
Support of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensuring states that outlaw gay marriage do not have to recognize gay marriages conducted in states that permit them.
Support of public posting of the 10 Commandments
Support of a weakening of the separation of church and state, supporting a vague "coexistence between government and religion"
Opposition to funding Planned Parenthood health clinics
In favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.
So do social conservatives feel betrayed that Buck is now saying he's "not going to Washington, D.C., with a social agenda?"
In response to this question, the normally conversant former GOP Senate President John Andrews emailed me: "I'll pass on this one."
State Sen. Dave Schultheis told me he still supports Ken Buck but he thinks concealing his social conservatism will hurt his election campaign.
It's unfortunate that he appears to be minimizing the social agenda. He should go to Washington with both a fiscal and social agenda.
I think that being totally honest with the people helps a candidate. Let the people decide, which is the way we should all be acting.
Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll emailed me: "Do you really think Buck - a social conservative, no doubt - gave social issues a high priority in the primary? That's not my impression. Not compared to fiscal issues, anyway."
Jane Norton, who was outflanked by Buck on the right, would undoubtedly disagree with Carroll. I mean, Buck's hard right views on social issues most likely tipped the primary in his direction. So Buck's positioning likely paid off.
Talk-radio host Pfaff was in Carroll's general camp: "I'm confident that Ken Buck will stand on these important social issues very well. If a vote comes up, he's going to vote the right way. In reality, though, the emphasis has to be on getting this fiscal house in order. I've said many times, I have no desire to live in a pro-life socialist state. And so, it does have to be both/and proposition and not an either or proposition. The question is emphasis."
I interviewed those guys last week. Then over the weekend Buck dropped a nuclear bomb on social conservatives.
Buck told The Denver Post he changed his view and would now vote against Personhood Amendment, which would give legal rights to fertilized eggs. He said he didn't "understand" that the measure would ban common forms of birth control, even though until the weekend his campaign had been defending Buck's opposition to common forms of birth control, telling 9News Buck opposed forms of the Pill and IUDs, for example.
For Sunday's piece, The Post got a response from a key social conservative. The Post interviewed Cleta Jasper, a board member of the Pikes Peak Citizens for Life, who sent Buck a survey in response to which he promised, among other things, not to vote for pro-choice judicial nominees.
The Post asked if she was upset at Buck:
"Not enough to kick him in the shins," she said.
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