U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) is usually (like many politicians) a big talker. But these days, when he's not hiding, he sounds more like a robot or the Coneheads of Saturday Night Live or a prisoner of war reeling off his name, rank and serial number.
That's probably because he's facing continued fallout from his May 12 comments about President Obama, prompted by a "birther" question at a fundraiser in conservative Elbert County.
"I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that," Coffman said. "But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American."
A supporter recorded Coffman’s statement, which prompted Coffman's written apology four days later (May 16).
"I misspoke and I apologize," the statement began. "I have confidence in President Obama's citizenship and legitimacy as President of the United States."
He also tried to clarify the intent of his comments with a classic "I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry" attack line.
"I don’t believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism. His policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many equals."
For the next week, Coffman refused requests for interviews and stayed out of sight. But KUSA-TV's 9NEWS reporter Kyle Clark caught up with him outside a closed-door fundraiser last night to see if he would elaborate.
But Coffman would not elaborate. Instead, he invoked his statement five times this amazing exchange:
CLARK: After your comments about the President, do you feel voters are owed a better explanation than just, I misspoke?REP. COFFMAN: I think that... Umm... I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.CLARK: OK. And who were you apologizing to?REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.CLARK: I apologize, we talk to you all the time, you're a very forthcoming guy. Who's telling you not to talk and to handle it like this?REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement, that I wrote, that you have, and I misspoke and I apologize.CLARK: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Elbert County where folks are very conservative and you'd never say something like that in the suburbs?REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.CLARK: Is there anything I can ask you that you'll answer differently?REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.CLARK: Thank you, congressman.REP. COFFMAN: Thank you.
Coffman represents Colorado's 6th Congressional District, which was redrawn from an overwhelmingly conservative district to one evenly divided among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters. He faces Democrat Joe Miklosi in November.
Ed will go deeper on the birther issue tonight on The Ed Show at 8pET on msnbc!