Tom Foreman | BIO
(CNN) - Sometimes it seems as if nothing makes a campaign staff happier than an ill-considered, or misstated position by the opponent, no matter how quickly it is retracted. And such appears to be the case with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s latest commercial against the Colorado Republican Senate nominee, Ken Buck.
In an effort to paint him as an out of control radical, the DSCC has rolled out thirty seconds of ominous music and even more frightening words.
“For nearly one hundred years, we the people have picked our Senators. But Ken Buck proposed a radically different idea. Buck said he wanted to rewrite the Constitution to let state legislators pick our Senators instead of voters. That’s right. Ken Buck actually proposed ending our right to vote for our own Senators. Rewriting the constitution? Ending our right to vote? Ken Buck's just too extreme for Colorado."
Their claim stems from an answer Buck gave at the Pikes Peak Economic Club in the summer of 2009, when he was asked about repealing the 17th Amendment.
Now, before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves what the 17th Amendment is all about. Originally the Constitution called for senators to be selected and sent to Washington by state legislators. The idea was that this would make state level lawmakers feel more politically connected to Washington, and keep U.S. senators above the daily fray of popular politics so they could vote their conscience.
But it grew messy. Warring factions at the state level left some Senate seats unfilled, a lot of feathers ruffled, and by the early 1900’s the 17th Amendment made it official: We’d all just vote on senators. And we’ve been sending our Mr. Smith’s to Washington that way ever since. (Although I should note that Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith was an appointee. Go figure.) Anyway, some folks (particularly in the Tea Party) have argued that now we’ve come full circle, and senators are too beholden to DC power brokers and fund-raisers, so maybe we should scrap the 17th and go back to the old way.
Aware of that and confronted with the question, Ken Buck’s team says he ruminated publically about the idea as a way of making senators more accountable to their voters, not less. I know, it’s kind of convoluted, but no matter: The very next day, Buck’s campaign says he called the questioner back and said, upon further consideration, no dice. The 17th Amendment stays.
In short, campaign spokesperson Owen Loftus says, “Ken Buck does not want to get rid of anyone’s right to vote. He never did.” And yet, the Democrats behind this ad give the very clear impression that that is precisely what Ken Buck is after. It’s not true, and the only way they can even begin to make that claim is by grabbing one comment carelessly tossed out there for 24 hours before it was reeled back in.
On our scale, that makes this commercial a very Tall Tale.
Earlier in Political Theater: Is new Angle ad beef or just bull?
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