Norton slams Buck for ‘profanity laced tirades’

By Ernest Luning
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

DENVER — Jane Norton on Monday questioned whether her Republican primary opponent, Ken Buck, has “the temperament and character” for the U.S. Senate seat they’re both seeking after a recording surfaced of Buck referring to Tea Party members with questions about President Obama’s birth certificate as “dumbasses.”

The Norton campaign is stepping up criticism against Buck as the August 10 primary approaches, portraying the Weld County district attorney — who won top line on the ballot after Norton opted to skip the state assembly — as someone who isn’t ready for the spotlight.

GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton blasts Ken Buck at a press conference Monday in front of the State Capitol. She said remarks he made about Tea Party members raised questions about his fitness for office.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“My opponent has given more profanity laced tirades than he has specifics on reforming our unaffordable system of entitlements,” Norton said at a press conference at the State Capitol.

Hogwash, replied the Buck campaign, though not in so many words. A Buck spokesman said Norton was trying to distract voters from the candidates’ stands on the issues.

“It would be nice if Jane would spend as much time talking about the issues as she does attacking Ken,” said Buck spokesman Owen Loftus. “The fact is, Jane’s on the wrong side of the issues voters are seeing right through it. That’s why Ken is leading in the polls.”

At the press conference on Monday, Norton charged Buck’s recent string of gaffes show he has been deriding his supporters in “unguarded” moments that happened to be caught on tape.

Late Sunday night both The Denver Post and 9News reported that Buck expressed frustration in June about “Birther” questions from Tea Party members prior to an event in Crowley. Buck made the comments to a Democratic Party tracker assigned to record the candidate’s speeches and appearances.

“Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I’m on the camera,” Buck said with a laugh to the Democratic campaign worker.

Buck wasn’t talking about Tea Party members in general, Loftus said, only the Birthers — conservative activists who persist in asking Obama to produce his “real” birth certificate — who are “spending time talking about an issue that isn’t an issue.”

Norton agreed on that point Monday, saying questions about Obama’s birth certificate have been “settled” by the state of Hawaii.

Loftus said the Buck campaign has “gotten a ton of e-mails and a ton of calls” from Tea Party and 9-12 group members reaffirming support for Buck since the story about his June remarks broke.

“They’re still firmly on Ken’s side,” he said. “It’s because Ken’s on the right side of the issues.”

It’s the third time in as many weeks the Buck campaign has found itself explaining the candidate’s off-the-cuff remarks after they were recorded and later broadcast.

Last week, a video circulated on the Internet showing Buck at an Independence Institute fundraiser in Kiowa. Asked why he deserved votes, Buck answered, “Because I don’t wear high heels.” He went on to describe his cowboy boots, which, he said, “had real bullsh-- on them. Weld County bullsh--.”

The Norton campaign pounced on both remarks with a TV ad that began airing last week. Buck responded that his remarks had been taken out of context and were an attempt at humor, pointing out it was the Norton campaign that introduced high heels into the campaign months earlier.

Earlier in July, Buck was recorded saying, “I can’t believe that guy opened his mouth,” after remarks made by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo at a Buck rally. Tancredo had told the crowd he thought Obama was a greater threat to the United States than World War II, the Soviets and al Qaeda. Buck distanced himself from the remarks minutes later but the next day told another group he agreed the liberal movement represented a grave threat to the country. Norton defended Tancredo — a Buck supporter — in a posting to her Facebook account.

A spokeswoman for the Norton campaign said Monday there were no plans to produce an ad aimed at Buck’s remarks about Tea Party members, but added that things could change.

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com