WASHINGTON – Ken Buck knows the media wants to rehash his unsuccessful Senate bid three years ago. But he is an unapologetic deficit cutter and pro-lifer who wants to focus on the pocketbook issues of ordinary Americans.
In his first interview since he announced his candidacy for the Colorado Republican Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2014, the 54-year-old Weld County Prosecutor sought to appeal to conservative and independent voters.
Buck volunteered that he would find a way to reduce the national debt, and while he did not use the word “Republican” or “conservative” in the interview, he reaffirmed he is “pro-life” on abortion.
Buck’s interview comes less than three years after he lost a highly winnable race against Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Although Buck lost by less than a percentage point, he led all through the summer and fall in a year in which Republicans gained 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate.
Buck sounded confident and determined in a 15-minute phone interview. He predicted he would defeat Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) the first-term incumbent whom he would face if he won the Republican primary next year. (Republican State Senators Owen Hill and Randy Baumgardner have also thrown their hats in the ring)
In addition, Buck said he “had” cancer; Buck was diagnosed with lymphoma in March, a type of blood cancer, but he announced it had gone into remission in May.
Buck faces difficult odds in his bid to unseat Udall. Although some polls have Udall’s approval ratings at less than 50 percent, the freshman incumbent has amassed a $5.4 million war chest and scared away top Republicans whom the National Republican Senatorial Committee had recruited.
The Rothenberg Political Report ranked the freshman incumbent’s seat as “currently safe Democrat.” A Udall spokesman did not respond to two separate email requests for comment about Buck’s charges.
TCO: Why are you running after the disappointing result of your 2010 Senate race?
Buck: Well, I was not running against Mark Udall. Senator Udall was not on the ballot in 2010. His votes for the stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act were radical at the time, and the effect has been rising health-care rates and other issues. There are many votes he took that were radical. For example, his views on energy and the environment are out of the mainstream and caused higher gasoline prices in 2010 and 2012 and 2014. I plan on making sure he answers the questions most relevant to U.S. citizens.
TCO: The Denver Post and many pundits said you committed verbal gaffes and miscues in the 2010 campaign. Have you changed as a candidate in three years?
Buck: Well, the Denver Post has a short memory. They didn’t take to task some of the things (Sen.) Bennet said. I’m going to force them to discuss the issues most relevant to Americans – the $17 trillion debt, the hundred trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, the more than $1 trillion annual debt Congress keeps passing, and the effects of Obamacare.
These have diverted attention away from Mark Udall’s voting record and I’m going to do my best to focus on Mark Udall’s voting record.
TCO: What discretionary and non-discretionary spending programs would you cut?
Buck: I think that’s a discussion that we can have when I get elected to the Senate in November 2014. I’m not going to sit here and talk about (cutting) these spending programs when I have not been elected.
TCO: Sen. Bennet attacked your position on abortion in the campaign. Has your stand on abortion changed?
Buck: You know, what I believe is Congress has voted to ban late-term abortions, and I’m one who opposes late-term abortions, and voted to ban federal funding for abortion, and I’m one who opposes federal funding of abortion. I’m tired of people talking about issues that are not relevant to the public. I’m a pro-life candidate.
TCO: Do you feel differently as a candidate now than three years ago?
Buck: Yeah, I think that’s a fair question. I had cancer, and I felt overwhelming support and prayers from my family and friends. I’ve learned to appreciate the small things and taking things one day a time. Sunrises are one of those things. I often slept through them in the old days, but when I had chemotherapy I saw them. And we’re so blessed in Colorado to see sunsets with such vibrant colors.