Letters to the Editor

Reality doesn’t seem to be a word found in my critic’s vocabulary

Dear Colorado,

Dana Milbank got my name right — but that’s about it.

Mr. Milbank’s attempt to malign my character consumed 13 paragraphs in Sunday’s Washington Post and Monday’s Denver Post. Nearly every paragraph is false or misleading.

The newspapers’ decision to publish this work of fiction is disappointing enough. What makes matters worse is Mr. Milbank’s decision to discard the evidence he made a pretense of seeking.

Mr. Milbank begins by recalling an old — and, as it turns out, imaginary — clash between the editor and publisher of our college newspaper. I was the editor of that newspaper, 24 years ago, but I didn’t remember the “fierce” fights Mr. Milbank describes. So I tracked down my classmate, the publisher, to refresh my memory. The reason I couldn’t remember the fights? They didn’t happen. The publisher had already told Mr. Milbank exactly the same thing, to no avail.

The passage of time has not softened Mr. Milbank’s contempt for me — or for reality. “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference,” he declares, in Colorado’s Democratic Senate primary. The truth: My opponent and I differ on virtually every major area of public policy, including health care, the economy, campaign finance, energy and the environment. (I lay out my positions on each of these issues at www.andrewromanoff.com.)

Throughout his column, Mr. Milbank accuses me of calling my opponent corrupt. The problem: I have never done so. In the press conference Mr. Milbank cites, I explicitly refused a reporter’s invitation to make that charge. Indeed, as I said at our state convention last month and on dozens of other occasions, I respect my opponent and will support him if he wins our party’s nomination.

What I also said — and what most Americans can plainly see — is that Congress is broken and desperately in need of repair. A pay-to-play political culture has turned Capitol Hill into a subsidiary of the industries it’s supposed to be regulating. Saying so doesn’t amount to “practicing fratricide” or “provoking a Democratic family feud,” to use Mr. Milbank’s words. It’s a matter of public record: The most powerful corporations in America have bankrolled both political parties and blocked the reform we need.

This problem just got a whole lot worse, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision to transform corporations into people. “In Washington,” as Mr. Milbank himself wrote last week, “belief in corporate divinity has become a bipartisan religion.”

The choice we now face, as candidates and as voters, is whether to perpetuate this problem, or instead to become part of the solution. “Part of changing the culture,” a member of the Senate once said, “is recognizing that the special interests ... have come to dictate the agenda in Washington.” And “the only way you break out of that,” this senator said, is to “stop taking money” from political action committees, “so that ordinary people’s voices are heard.”

I believe then-Senator Barack Obama was right. That’s why, like our President, I decided to reject PAC contributions. Like the President, I made a different decision in my last campaign, although that was four years — not, as Mr. Milbank suggests, four days — earlier. This change of heart may make me an imperfect messenger; President Obama described himself in the same terms after taking the same path. But that fact does not dilute the fundamental strength of our argument.

Finally, and just as falsely, Mr. Milbank accuses me of aiming to embarrass the President by confirming a call and a message I received from the White House. As Mr. Milbank surely knows, I declined to comment on this matter precisely because I did not and do not want to politicize it. The same, sadly, cannot be said of my opponent, whose press secretary spent the weekend peddling Mr. Milbank’s calumny.

The good news — and there is some here — is that the voters of our state aren’t fooled by such tricks. Despite the opposition of Washington’s powerbrokers and party bosses, I won the Democratic convention by 21 points and have moved into a dead heat with the leading Republican candidate. (My opponent trails the GOP frontrunner by six points.) When a grassroots campaign like ours wins a race like this without a dime of corporate cash, our victory will send a seismic shock to the U.S. Senate, which needs one. Mr. Milbank got that part right.

Andrew Romanoff
Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate