DENVER -- Colorado state Sen. Owen Hill, one of four GOP candidates hoping to challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Udall next fall, is trying to explain his "birther"-style comments at a Republican breakfast last week after they were reported Thursday by BuzzFeed.
At a Denver County Republicans breakfast last Friday, Hill, according to BuzzFeed, was talking about his time working in Nairobi slums for the Christian group Compassion International, said this:
"You spend time out there [in a Kenyan slum] and little kids are running around barefoot in these kinds of streets and you ask them what they want to be, they want to be an astronaut, they want to be a physicist, a marine biologist, one kid even told me he wanted to be President of the United States. I held back my snarky comment that said ‘Well, you know what, we already have someone from Kenya as President of the United States.'"
Audio of the remark was captured by a Democratic operative in the room and obtained by BuzzFeed.
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Hill quickly responded to the report Thursday morning by trying to brush off the story as an overreaction.
“The fact that my obvious joke is being highlighted today just shows how worried Mark Udall and the Democrats actually are of my campaign for the U.S. Senate here in Colorado," Hill said in a statement.
"These are the typical sleazy tactics used by Mark Udall’s radical operatives who are scared of losing their go to guy in Washington DC. Such dishonest antics show how desperate the Mark Udall machine is over losing its stranglehold on our economy, diverting folks from focusing on his inept Obamacare rollout."
The comments are reminiscent of those made last year by Congressman Mike Coffman, who told Republicans at a campaign event in Elizabeth that he didn't think President Obama was an American "in his heart."
Those comments, posted to YouTube by someone who attended the event, not a Democratic operative, were seized upon by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; and Coffman was forced to apologize.
With Coffman now among its top 2014 targets, the DCCC wasted no time putting out a statement Thursday.
"Apparently Owen Hill is seeking the Mike Coffman endorsement because Owen Hill and Congressman Coffman are two birthers in a pod who use hateful and false birther rhetoric when they think no one is watching," said Brandon Lorenz of the DCCC.
"Owen Hill clearly comes from the Mike Coffman tea party wing of the party which will be rejected by voters in November because it does not represent Colorado values."