By Jonathan Easley
STATE BILL COLORADO
DENVER — Before Tom Tancredo’s meltdown, a group of about 200 people gathered around the pavilion in Cuernavaca Park Thursday to support Colorado senatorial candidate Ken Buck. The informal event saw politicos and constituents moving easily around one another, all in a sea of royal blue Ken Buck T-shirts. Beach chairs sat on the grass in front of the stage, red, white and blue balloons were tied to the pavilion posts, and an inestimable number of Ken Buck signs were planted into the ground; the “C” in his last name replaced by the “C” from the Colorado flag.
The crowd’s spirits were not dampened by the overcast conditions, and their raucousness was not allayed by the generous spread of hot dogs, potato salad and watermelon. In fact, the crowd only became hungrier for the red meat that was to be doled out by the event’s real draw, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
Buck and DeMint arrived together, causing a minor stir beneath a small white tent as they settled in to meet the crowd. DeMint was clearly the focus, he fielded all of the questions and most of the gratitude, and even signed a few copies of his book, “Saving Freedom.” One of DeMint’s strengths is his folksy charm, which seems to be a direct result of his inability to over-engage. He offers only a short arm extension for his brief and delicate handshake, and he will not burn a hole through you with his gaze. He’s a comfortable man, and he seems to pocket nicely in his own little envelope, relatively unaffected by the masses swirling around him. When asked why Ken Buck was the right choice for Colorado, DeMint initially kept things on a macro level: “Ken Buck will say no. Washington is bankrupting the country and Ken understands that, he’s willing to stand up to that.”
Much more candid was former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who now retired has no problem playing the pistol, as he proved at the end of the event by returning to the microphone to inform the crowd that Barack Obama poses the greatest threat to both the constitution and the American way of life; it was a lightning rod remark that Buck stolidly backed away from. Earlier in the afternoon, Tancredo responded to the same question posted by State Bill Colorado by saying that, “Buck’s got balls. He’s a courageous guy and he actually will not change once he gets to Washington.”
DeMint was able to match Tancredo’s edge as he took the stage to introduce the aspiring senator. His small-government plea received the most spirited reception of the day: “We can see what they’re doing to our country. We can see what they’re doing with the spending, and the borrowing, and the debt and the government takeovers. Who would have thought just a few years ago that the federal government would own our largest auto companies, our largest insurance companies, our largest mortgage companies, take over our healthcare industry, take over our whole financial industry, you name it, they even control our education system. It’s time to take our country back!”
Buck then took the stage brandishing his heartland ideals and inborn patriotism. He introduced his wife as a proud practitioner of the second amendment; Mrs. Buck was a recent recipient of a gun permit. He also mentioned his son Cody, who is a fourth-year cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. More than anything, Buck presented himself as an outsider to the beltway.
This seemed to be the overriding narrative of the day, as even the prayer of invocation that kicked off the festivities asked for strength in standing up to the establishment. Pulling a page from the Scott Brown playbook, Buck talked-up his grassroots campaign effort: “We went to truck stops and coffee shops, farms and factories, living rooms and churches. We listened and we learned. We heard the same thing all over this state, and that was that you don’t like the answers coming out of D.C. always being that we need more government. Coloradans know that the answer to bad government is not more bad government.”
Buck’s campaign motto is “The Grassroots Choice,” and his simple, every-man message seemed to resonate with the crowd.