Note: This entry was corrected from an earlier post regarding the Cheesman Park event.
One of the many beauties of a democracy is the fact that our leaders are not royalty. The appearances of our elected leaders are not command performances for citizens.
However, in our current governmental system, there is certainly a clear ranking among political parties. Members of the same political party usually adhere to an unspoken code that higher ranking officials receive respect and deference in public appearances.
On Wednesday, we witnessed this custom tossed out the window because apparently, schedules were too difficult to rework for a presidential visit.
It’s fairly easy to understand why some of Colorado’s highest ranking Democrats, who also happen to be running for office, are not available to attend an event with the President at Cheesman Park on Wednesday. Low approval ratings do not make for attractive photo ops.
In 2008, Republicans were avoiding personal appearances with George W. Bush as if he had the plague.
When Marilyn Musgrave, then the Representative from Congressional District 4, appeared with President George W. Bush, an awkward hug shared between the two certainly made for damaging ads.
But the ads that were really damning for Musgrave had nothing to do with George W. Bush and everything to do with her own record.
Could avoiding appearing with the President actually hurt Democratic candidates more than pictures along side the President would be in ads? I think that is very possible.
I understand that Governor Hickenlooper’s spokesperson said that the Governor could not attend due to a schedule conflict. But let’s face it, if this was 2008 and President Obama was bringing in the droves, I can’t imagine that the meeting in the Springs wouldn’t be rescheduled.
I think not appearing with President Obama can eventually hurt Democratic candidates because if ads want to connect them to Obama, awkward hug moments won’t be needed.
But the collective absence can authentically show a physical representation of shunning the President and thereby, his policies. I realize it is a little bit of a stretch, but I can’t imagine if Senator Udall is re-elected this fall that he intends to fight the President’s agenda. If he is planning to be supportive if he wins re-election, he should be supportive now and simply own it.
To want your political cake and eat it too is nothing new and not necessarily a path to disaster. But if Democratic candidates want to be respected as elected officials by their own party, they may want to start by showing the due respect for the national leader of the Democratic Party, regardless of approval ratings.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.