CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, during a report on the importance of Colorado in the upcoming presidential election on Monday’s "American Morning," labeled Colorado Governor Bill Ritter a "self-styled cowboy centrist," despite his liberal record on issues such as abortion and special rights for "trans-gendered" people.
Acosta’s label is puzzling, since Governor Ritter hasn’t specifically refer to himself as a "cowboy centrist," neither during the interview or elsewhere. The exact term doesn’t even come up in a Google search. During the report, the CNN correspondent did run video of Ritter wearing cowboy boots, and the Governor claimed how his state had started to "trend to leaders who are pragmatic, who are centrist," a reference to himself. But the governor’s own proposals and some of bills he has signed since beginning his term in January 2007 point to a politician who is anything but centrist.
Just days after being sworn in, Governor Ritter proposed restoring state funding to Planned Parenthood. Two months later in March 2007, he signed a bill which mandated that all hospitals in the state , including Catholic hospitals, provide information on abortifacient drugs to victims of rape, despite the Catholic Church’s strong opposition to abortion and contraception.
Earlier this year, the Democrat governor signed a "anti-discrimination" law which expanded protections to include sexual orientation. As Human Events' Bill Kaminsky pointed out about the legislation, "it appears to allow men who self-identify as ‘transgender’ a legal right to demand to be able to use women’s bathrooms, health club showers, bathhouses, and any other ‘public accommodation.’"
The full transcript of Acosta’s report, which aired just before the top of the 7 am hour of Monday’s "American Morning:"
KIRAN CHETRY: Well, speaking of the election, you know, independent voters could be the x-factor in the 2008 general election. The State of Colorado is loaded with them, and it's no accident that Denver will be hosting the DNC this year. CNN's Jim Acosta reports from one of this year's huge toss-up states.
JIM ACOSTA (on-camera): It's no accident that Democrats picked Denver as the site of their upcoming national convention. Colorado is shaping up to be the ultimate toss-up state.
ACOSTA (voice-over): There's more than a continental divide that runs through Colorado: the political divisions are just as dramatic. With Democrats, Republicans, and independents, each making up roughly one-third of Colorado voters. But over the last four years, those voters have handed key state jobs to Democrats, like Governor Bill Ritter.
GOVERNOR BILL RITTER, COLORADO: There's been, I think, a trend to leaders who are pragmatic, who are centrist.
ACOSTA: The self-styled, cowboy centrist believes the state has grown weary of the westerner currently in the Oval Office.
RITTER: I think people are really disappointed about what happened, respecting the Iraqi war -- how we got into it; in some respects, how we were misled in getting into it and I think that...
ACOSTA: Do you feel that the President misled the country?
RITTER: I feel so. I absolutely do, and I think there will be some backlash in this election as a part of it.
ERIC SONDERMANN, COLORADO POLITICAL ANALYST: Clearly there's war fatigue here, as there's war fatigue in other states.
ACOSTA: But Colorado political analyst Eric Sondermann points out that Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to win here, and he did so with the help of third-party candidate Ross Perot -- taking votes away from the Republicans. This time, there's no viable independent in the race.
SONDERMANN: It is a unique kind of Democrat who is winning here. The question is, can Obama inherit or adapt to that kind of magic?
FORMER GOVERNOR BILL OWENS, COLORADO: Independents voted for President Bush both times and that's why he won this state.
ACOSTA: Former two-term Republican Governor Bill Owens says those independents will prefer the familiar face of John McCain.
OWENS: I'd actually prefer to run against Barack Obama. I think he's charismatic. I think he's a very nice guy. But I think that when you bring less experience to the presidential election than Jimmy Carter had, that's going to be a challenge.
ACOSTA (on-camera): The Mountain West, which follows the spine of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico, is proving to be fertile ground for Democrats. In 2000, there wasn't a single Democratic governor in the region. Today, there are five and counting. Jim Acosta, CNN, Denver, Colorado.