DENVER (AP) – Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez have debated seven times in their too-close-to-call gubernatorial contest, and it’s clear they’re beginning to get on each other’s nerves.
Hickenlooper has likened Beauprez’s debating style to a school bully.
“There have been times where he has pushed buttons,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with The Associated Press this week, recalling a time when he was picked on in elementary school.
“There was one class bully that sometimes used the same devices that (former) Congressman Beauprez has used,” he said. “And it does push your buttons. It does make you want to fight back, but then you’re just giving in and letting them control the game.”
Beauprez has tried to link Hickenlooper to President Barack Obama and his low approval ratings by using the term “Obama-Looper” during debates. Last week, during a debate in Colorado Springs, Beauprez ribbed on Hickenlooper’s 2012 civic engagement initiative, dubbed “To Be Determined,” incorrectly describing it as the governor’s economic agenda, and asking about a second-term agenda.
“I wonder if that’s got a name, too, like, ‘We’ll get back to you,’ or ‘Watch your inbox,'” Beauprez asked, prompting Hickenlooper to quip, “Always gracious.”
Beauprez used the “Obama-Looper” term again Thursday during a debate hosted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry.
It got an immediate reaction from Hickenlooper.
“Is it going to be chicken-cooper next, or like poopen-scooper,” he said, generating laughter from the audience. “One question I have to ask at some point is, if you disagree with someone, do you think it’s appropriate and a good sign of leadership to criticize and attack them and make fun of their name?”
Beauprez told the AP earlier this week that he was “honestly surprised that somebody who’s been mayor of Denver and now an incumbent governor, that their skin is that thin.”
“And that he would liken the serious nature of what we’re involved in right now to some sort of a schoolyard dispute. I mean, that trivializes it, and I really didn’t think that his skin was quite that thin, nor easy to get under,” Beauprez said.
One of the most heated exchanges happened a few weeks ago in Pueblo. Beauprez criticized Hickenlooper’s Department of Corrections for releasing inmates in solitary confinement directly to the streets after their sentences. Authorities say one of them, Evan Ebel, was responsible for the March 2013 slaying of state Corrections Director Tom Clements, who was trying to reform solitary-confinement policies.
While Beauprez never mentioned Clements’ name, Hickenlooper said he interpreted the comments to mean “that my reform-minded director of corrections who was assassinated on his front doorstep, you know, that somehow he was responsible for his own death.”
Beauprez said bringing up public-safety policies during debates is fair game.
“I don’t blame him for being sensitive, but I do blame him for not being able to explain, the failures of his administration,” he said.
[display-posts tag=”campaign-2014″ wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”10″]
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)