Monday, June 14, 2010

Romanoff fires back

Posted by on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 5:16 PM

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had some nasty things to say about U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff. Problem is, a lot of what Milbank said in a column published Sunday isn't true, according to Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff has his own version of his college days.
  • Andrew Romanoff has his own version of his college days.

Milbank's column called the former Colorado House speaker "talented" but "prickly."

Romanoff, a Democrat, wrote a 700-word response, but was forced to cut that to 300 or so words by the Washington Post and Denver Post.

We are publishing the entire piece here. Not that we think this is a campaign issue, but rather we want to give the candidate an opportunity to address all issues brought up by someone who, like President Obama, apparently thinks the U.S. Senate race in Colorado is their business. Obama already has endorsed fellow Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet, whom Gov. Bill Ritter appointed to the seat after Sen. Ken Salazar became Interior secretary.

Romanoff's response in full:

Attack on Romanoff biased, baseless

Dana Milbank got my name right — but that’s about it.

Mr. Milbank’s attempt to malign my character consumed 13 paragraphs in Sunday’s Washington Post and Monday’s Denver Post. Nearly every paragraph is false or misleading.

The papers’ decision to publish this work of fiction is disappointing enough. What makes matters worse is Mr. Milbank’s decision to discard the evidence he made a pretense of seeking.

Mr. Milbank begins by recalling an old — and, as it turns out, imaginary — clash between the editor and publisher of our college newspaper. I was the editor of that newspaper, 24 years ago, but I didn’t remember the “fierce” fights Mr. Milbank describes. So I tracked down my classmate, the publisher, to refresh my memory. The reason I couldn’t remember the fights? They didn’t happen. The publisher had already told Mr. Milbank exactly the same thing, to no avail.

The passage of time has not softened Mr. Milbank’s contempt for me — or for reality. “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference,” he declares, in Colorado’s Democratic Senate primary. The truth: My opponent and I differ on virtually every major area of public policy, including health care, the economy, campaign finance, energy and the environment. (I lay out my positions on each of these issues at www.andrewromanoff.com.)

Throughout his column, Mr. Milbank accuses me of calling my opponent corrupt. The problem: I have never done so. In the press conference Mr. Milbank cites, I explicitly refused a reporter’s invitation to make that charge. Indeed, as I said at our state convention last month and on dozens of other occasions, I respect my opponent and will support him if he wins our party’s nomination.

What I also said — and what most Americans can plainly see — is that Congress is broken and desperately in need of repair. A pay-to-play political culture has turned Capitol Hill into a subsidiary of the industries it’s supposed to be regulating. Saying so doesn’t amount to “practicing fratricide” or “provoking a Democratic family feud,” to use Mr. Milbank’s words. It’s a matter of public record: The most powerful corporations in America have bankrolled both political parties and blocked the reform we need.

This problem just got a whole lot worse, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision to transform corporations into people. “In Washington,” as Mr. Milbank himself wrote last week, “belief in corporate divinity has become a bipartisan religion, and it’s polytheistic: Lawmakers, despite the occasional bit of populist rhetoric, routinely provide generous offerings to the automotive, aerospace, financial, pharmaceutical and insurance industries, along with petroleum.”

The choice we now face, as candidates and as voters, is whether to perpetuate this problem, or instead to become part of the solution. “Part of changing the culture,” a member of the Senate once said, “is recognizing that the special interests … have come to dictate the agenda in Washington.” And “the only way you break out of that,” this senator said, is to “stop taking money” from political action committees, “so that ordinary people’s voices are heard.”

I believe then-Senator Barack Obama was right. That’s why, like our President, I decided to reject PAC contributions. Like the President, I made a different decision in my last campaign, although that was four years — not, as Mr. Milbank suggests, four days — earlier. This change of heart may make me an imperfect messenger; President Obama described himself in the same terms after taking the same path. But that fact does not dilute the fundamental strength of our argument.

Finally, and just as falsely, Mr. Milbank accuses me of aiming to embarrass the President by confirming a call and a message I received from the White House. As Mr. Milbank surely knows, I declined to comment on this matter precisely because I did not and do not want to politicize it. The same, sadly, cannot be said of my opponent, whose press secretary spent the weekend peddling Mr. Milbank’s calumny.

The good news — and there is some here — is that the voters of my state aren’t fooled by such tricks. Despite the opposition of Washington’s powerbrokers and party bosses, I won the Democratic convention by 21 points and have moved into a dead heat with the leading Republican candidate. (My opponent trails the GOP frontrunner by six points.) When a grassroots campaign like ours wins a race like this without a dime of corporate cash, our victory will send a seismic shock to the U.S. Senate, which needs one. Mr. Milbank got that part right.

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