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Hit Pieces 101 

On Saturday, great balls of fire will erupt from World Arena, consuming all in their path, until this great state of Colorado is left a barren wasteland.

Sound like an exaggeration? That's nothing, compared to the accusations being hurled in the bloody war between Republicans Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman. Both of them want to be governor of Colorado. They and their tribes will gather in Colorado Springs this weekend for the election-year ritual that determines whether they have enough support to get on the August primary ballot.

State assembly delegates will decide whether Holtzman's supporters are correct when they describe Beauprez, aka Both Ways Bob, as a draft-dodging, e-mail list-stealing, lying, free-spending poseur who never served his country but is willing to preen for photos wearing a military-esque flight suit.

And they'll decide if the Beauprez contingent is accurate with their characterization of Holtzman, aka Shorty, as a lying attack poodle who doctored photos of himself and Ronald Reagan, wasted the public's money and has no qualms about breaking the law.

This is how it's going so far. And it's only May.

In recent weeks, the liberal Colorado group Progress Now produced an entertaining video that takes us down a memory lane on which Beauprez, currently a U.S. congressman, would probably prefer not to travel. Specifically, the group wants to know why, as a young man, Beauprez played football, wrestled and majored in physical education and then avoided the draft with claims of an ulcer. (The video can be watched at progressnowaction.org.)

The GOP faithful both on and off the payroll have also been thwacking the machetes with gusto. On May 5, Holtzman campaign manager Dick Leggitt resigned after he admitted to giving false polling information to a reporter. Six days earlier, Beauprez campaign manager John Marshall actually issued a press release demanding his counterpart in the Holtzman camp be fired.

Marshall's manifesto didn't call out only Leggitt. It also outlined what Marshall called "factual evidence" of "a very troubling, very clear pattern of ethical abuse" by the candidate himself.

This "factual evidence" did not sit well with Jimmie H. Butler, a retired Air Force colonel and diehard Holtzman fan who lives in Colorado Springs. Four days after Marshall's hit piece was sent out, Butler responded in a mass e-mail of his own, point by point. Here are just two of them, to get the gist of what we very loosely call a discussion:

John Marshall's claim: "Marc Holtzman doctored photos of himself with President Reagan and President Bush to try and pass himself off as taller to the voters of Colorado."

Jimmie H. Butler responds: "If that's among the best you can come up with, the congressman's record of achievements for the taxpayers of his district must be pretty skimpy as far as positive things to offer ... If I were advising the congressman on his campaign, I think I would have said something like, "Boss, if we don't want to look pretty silly, we probably should drop the accusation of him trying to look taller.'"

John Marshall's claim: "Marc Holtzman claims to be the victim of "private detectives' and "negative attacks' from Bob Beauprez, but the truth is that there is zero evidence of these claims ..."

Jimmie H. Butler responds: "As a retired military officer who lived happily in a culture where your word is your bond, I can't claim any real experience or expertise in writing political hit pieces. However, common sense would say that in Hit Pieces 101, surely they emphasize that you look pretty silly if you try to claim in a hit piece that you don't make negative attacks."

Marshall went on, accusing Holtzman of, among other things, engaging in illegal behavior. "Some people don't know how to tell the truth.Some people don't know how to lie. Marc Holtzman doesn't know the difference."

Butler responded, calling the attack "a shameful example of the politics of personal destruction practiced today by so many liberal democrats [sic]."

And on it goes. Chances are, both Holtzman and Beauprez will make it onto the Republican primary ballot one way or another. Get ready for a long, hot summer.

degette@csindy.com

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