POLITIBLOG: Romanoff says yesterday’s Tea Party Express blessing of Coffman is ‘mal momento’ since Spanish debate is tonight

Coffman's campaign fired back that Tea Party Express cofounder Sal Russo expressed his support for passing immigration reform legislation last summer

AURORA | As the election deadline looms, the battle between Andrew Romanoff and Mike Coffman for the 6th Congressional seat is now getting combative. Romanoff’s campaign is jumping on the timing of a recent endorsement of his opponent as both candidates gear up for Colorado’s first Spanish-language debate tonight.

Yesterday, the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee, endorsed  Coffman for re-election in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. Romanoff campaign spokeswoman Denise Baron called the timing “unfortunate” in an email to supporters.

“Since Mike Coffman launched a new website in May, the homepage has prominently featured a photo of Mike Coffman speaking passionately at a Tea Party rally next to a supporter holding a sign criticizing ‘illegal aliens,’ ” she said.  “Rep. Coffman has kept this photo front and center on his website, perhaps as a nod to his anti-immigrant positions, his promise ‘to continue the fight Congressman Tancredo has led,’ and his 25 years of anti-immigrant votes.”

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Coffman’s campaign fired back that Tea Party Express cofounder Sal Russo expressed his support for passing  immigration reform legislation last summer. In an op-ed for Roll Call, Russo stated, “Conservatives need to seize on immigration reform as an opportunity for growth, to reaffirm who we are and what makes our country great.” In the piece Russo emphasized the need to fix the country’s visa program and  said border security was an essential part of any proposed legislation.

Also in the op-ed, Russo said:

Finally, we need to make the 11 million people who are here illegally obey the law, pay taxes and come out of the shadows. We have to get them right by the law in exchange for legal status, but not unbridled amnesty. This should include penalties, background checks to root out criminals, and the requirement that they learn English, understand the Constitution and be committed to our basic freedoms. We must ensure there is no special pathway to citizenship that puts them in front of people who waited in line.

Unsaid is the disparity between what the Tea Party Express, Coffman and Romanoff call “immigration reform.” Romanoff has been steadfast in support of the immigration package passed out of the Senate last year, and said, if elected he would vote to pass the Senate’s immigration bill.  Coffman recently said he would support a path to citizenship for those who enlist in the U.S. military and for some brought to the United States illegally as children. He has repeatedly said he does not support a comprehensive reform package, but would rather see immigration reform come one item at a time to Congress.  It’s unclear what Russo supports, but Tea Party philosophy previously has been steadfast about denying what they’ve called “amnesty.”

“Andrew Romanoff’s sleazy attacks are not only desperate but factually flawed,”said Tyler Sandberg, a spokesman for Coffman. “The founder of the Tea Party Express, like Mike Coffman, supports fixing our broken immigration system. The author of the DREAM Act, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez has praised Mike Coffman as a ‘leader’ on the issue of immigration reform.”

Sandberg added that Romanoff has been endorsed by a number of left wing extremists, He points to the millions of dollars spent on Romanoff by  Nancy Pelosi’s political groups.

— Rachel Sapin, reporter

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