As the early phase of Colorado's U.S. Senate campaign unfolds, Bob Schaffer is clearly exuding a growing confidence as he delivers a commonsense conservative message. Tonight at a well-attended event sponsored by the Mountain Republican Women (in west Jefferson County, for the uninitiated), Schaffer delivered a powerful keynote speech that picked a somewhat wearied and skeptical crowd off the ground and fired them up for the 2008 election.
Schaffer noted that he is more optimistic about the prospects of his candidacy and that of the GOP than he has been for many months. Considering that he has been in the race for 5 months and Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall has been angling for the seat since 2004, it is a good sign that the contest polls as a dead heat. The former 4th District Congressman's fundraising has been steady and solid but, in a race that will cost the winner at least $12 million, can use more help.
An articulate and charismatic candidate with a clear focus, Schaffer stands on an increasingly well-developed, three-fold platform of:
1) Tax relief
2) Foreign policy strength
3) Border enforcement and responsible immigration policy
The first point gives the Republican a big hammer to drive home, especially if Udall decides to support something outlandish like Rep. Charlie Rangel's economy-busting boondoggle proposal. On the second point, with mounting evidence of success, the issue of Iraq is disappearing off the Democrats' table much more quickly than they would like - leaving only echoes of Sen. Harry Reid ready to toss in the white flag on our troops. On the third point, Schaffer quipped to one questioner that he could not vote for amnesty lest he lose the support of his own mother.
Without losing an eye on his longterm strategy of reaching out to unaffiliated voters, Schaffer is working hard to unify a wounded party one phone call at a time. Talking to party activists and supporters who pour out their anger and frustration at the infidelity to core principles displayed by many GOP officials, Schaffer said he typically tells them, "Hey, I'm a frustrated Republican, too."
Schaffer closed with his dramatic delivery of Patrick Henry's famous "Give Me Liberty" speech, which only serves to remind you of this candidate's passion, depth, and devotion to the cause of liberty and self-government. These are the values dear to the hearts of most Coloradans, not those represented by Udall. The more voters learn about the real man, the more this race will tilt away from the out-of-orbit predictions by liberal Democrats to a repeat of Sen. Wayne Allard's victories in 1996 and 2002.
Watch out, Udall.