Beauprez accepts Hickenlooper debate handshake to end attack ads

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and GOP challenger Bob Beauprez took part in their second debate Tuesday night at the Denver Post auditorium downtown.

DENVER — When Gov. John Hickenlooper stepped away from behind the lectern and toward Bob Beauprez with his hand extended, there was little the Republican gubernatorial nominee could do but shake it.

It’s unclear if that uncomfortable, unexpected exchange during a Denver Post gubernatorial debate Tuesday night will result in a lasting handshake agreement by both candidates to not run negative campaign ads, as Hickenlooper proposed, clearly catching Beauprez off-guard.

Hickenlooper, whose disavowed negative ads since his first mayoral campaign in 2003, is still benefitting from ads attacking Beauprez that are being run by the Democratic Governors Association.

Beauprez, similarly, has benefitted from ads by the Republican Governors Association that have savaged Hickenlooper for his soft leadership style.

Beauprez asked Hickenlooper to disavow the DGA’s latest spot, which alleges that Beauprez profited handsomely from the sale of Heritage Bank, which was sold off despite a high percentage of bad loans.

Hickenlooper avoided doing so.

“John Hickenlooper says on TV he’s against negative ads yet he’s okay with his close allies doing his dirty work,” Beauprez campaign manager Dustin Olson said Wednesday . “There are absurd, blatantly false claims in the ad and John Hickenlooper knows it. But Hickenlooper’s silence isn’t surprising. Voters know he is a weak leader incapable of making tough decisions or keeping his word.”

Even if the agreement sticks and Beauprez’s campaign avoids negative ads for the final five weeks of the campaign, outside groups will likely continue to run negative ads on his behalf, and Democratic groups will certainly do the same to help Hickenlooper.

The hour-long debate, the second between the two gubernatorial candidates, featured a handful of other interesting exchanges.

Beauprez stated clearly that he would repeal the law enabling undocumented immigrants to obtain Colorado driver’s licenses.

Hickenlooper, who has long said the science of climate changed is unsettled, said Tuesday night that he now believes global warming is primarily human-caused.

He also defended signing last year’s controversial gun safety bills into law, citing a number of crime statistics to argue that the net effect is worth the political cost, and his decision to grant an indefinite reprieve to death row inmate Nathan Dunlap.

“I don’t believe the government ought to be taking another person’s life,” he said.

Beauprez refused to answer what he called a “hypothetical” question on whether or not he would sign a ban on abortion and went on to say he opposes IUD contraceptives, which he labeled an “abortifacient”, the equivalent to a drug that causes an abortion.

“I’m unabashedly pro-life,” said Beauprez, who also said he respects those with other views and would uphold the law, which protects abortion, if elected governor.

On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood responded to Beauprez’s comments.

“The fact is the IUD is not an abortifacient. These comments illustrate how little Bob Beauprez really understands about women’s health,” said Planned Parenthood’s Cathy Alderman. “The IUD prevents fertilization and is proven to be one of the most reliable methods to prevent pregnancy.

“As a trusted provider of reproductive health care in Colorado, Planned Parenthood highly recommends IUDs as a method of birth control to our patients. We agree with our colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who recently released a report finding the IUD is one of the best methods of birth control for teens.”

The two candidates also disagreed on the state of Colorado’s economy, with Beauprez saying that surrounding states — all with Republican governors — are doing better when it comes to job growth.

Hickenlooper called that characterization “ludicrous.”

Beauprez also said he was glad Jared Polis’s local control ballot measures were no longer on the ballot, but he criticized the agreement Hickenlooper brokered to get them off it, arguing that creating a task force to study the issue “kicks the can down the road.”

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