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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When former U.S. Representative Bob Beauprez won the GOP nomination for governor of Colorado, many Republicans breathed a sigh of relief. Beauprez edged extreme anti-immigration candidate Tom Tancredo in the primary, and was viewed as much less likely to be hurt by a controversial gaffe in the general election.

So much for that.

On Wednesday, video emerged of Beauprez criticizing the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes. The video, which was recorded in 2010, was obtained by The Denver Post after a tip from the Colorado Democratic Party.

“I see something that frankly doesn’t surprise me, having been on Ways and Means Committee: 47 percent of all Americans pay no federal income tax,” Beauprez tells an audience at the Denver Rotary Club in the video. “I’m guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47 percent — God bless you — but what that tells me is that we’ve got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill, and most of that half is you all.”

“I submit to you that there is a political strategy to get slightly over half and have a permanent ruling majority by keeping over half of the population dependent on the largesse of government that somebody else is paying for,” Beauprez added.

The remarks are almost identical to the infamous speech that dragged down Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign (incidentally, Romney endorsed Beauprez during the Republican primary). Despite the damage done by Romney’s remarks, several other Republicans have since reprised them.

None of them noted that the overwhelming majority of the “47 percent” do pay other taxes, and benefit from tax credits that Republicans have traditionally supported. Additionally, if Democrats have crafted a strategy to turn non-taxpayers into a “permant majority,” it’s not working; most “47 percenters” are Republicans.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio noted the irony that Beauprez is currently traveling the state on a “Unity Tour” with his former Republican rivals for the nomination.

“If he’s talking about unity, this is a funny way to show unity with Coloradans,” Palacio told the Post. “He must be talking about unity with other Republicans, because he didn’t say anything about anybody else.”

Beauprez’s speech raises an obvious question: Does he think that Congress should raise the income tax on 47 percent of the country? And if not, how does he suggest preventing the half of the population represented at the Denver Rotary Club from “paying the bill?”

Polls suggest that Beauprez is locked in a dead heat with incumbent governor John Hickenlooper (D); these remarks seem unlikely to help. If Beauprez fades in the polls, it could also affect Colorado’s closely contested Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mark Udall and U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner. A Gardner win would go a long way toward helping Republicans secure the net six seats they need to claim a Senate majority.

Video of Beauprez’s remarks can be seen below:

Screenshot: Bob Beauprez/YouTube

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