Hickenlooper won’t campaign against Boebert, but he will call Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville ’an embarrassment’ for freezing military promotions

Eli Pace
Steamboat Pilot & Today
U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper speaks with Catherine Carson, chair of the Routt County Democrats, after a town hall event Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023 at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Fielding questions during a Steamboat Springs town hall, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper talked up bipartisanship before taking aim at Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s one-man blockade on military promotions.

The Colorado Democrat appeared in front of roughly 100 people Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College’s Albright Auditorium to answer all sorts of questions from the audience.

During a brief introduction, Hickenlooper touted recent bipartisan work in Washington, D.C., saying that lawmakers have passed more significant bipartisan bills than any other Congress has in the last 50 years. Specifically, he talked up the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“I have remarks that they want me to say,” Hickenlooper told the crowd. “It’s a bunch of lists of things we’ve done. I think it’s better just to say I don’t think what you see on TV in Washington is as bad as it looks. … I think there are a number of moderate-thinking Republicans and Democrats that are there to get things done.”

That came almost immediately after Hickenlooper told the room he has “some misgivings about some of the people in the House.”

“I think that’s fairly diplomatic — misgivings is not such a big deal,” Hickenlooper added as people in the crowd let out a chuckle.

After the town hall, Hickenlooper stayed late to take more questions, including some from the media. Responding to a direct inquiry, Hickenlooper said he was not speaking of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado, when he mentioned his “misgivings.”

“No, no,” Hickenlooper said. “Representatives in this state, they’re my partners and I won’t go into any congressperson’s or senator’s state and campaign against them. And likewise, I am not going to campaign against Boebert here.”

Hickenlooper continued by saying that he is going to donate to Boebert’s likely opponent in the November general election, Democrat Adam Frisch, but Hickenlooper was adamant that he won’t campaign against Boebert.

Instead, Hickenlooper said he likes Boebert, gets along with her fine and thinks she’s smart. “I disagree with her a lot, but I’m not going to campaign against her,” he promised.

Hickenlooper wasn’t in Alabama though, and a woman who described her great-nephew as a recent high school graduate trying to make a career in the U.S. Marines asked Hickenlooper how someone could encourage anyone to pursue a career in the military when one senator can cause such gridlock.

“What is (Tuberville’s) motivation and why won’t his Republican peers convince him that this is really ridiculous?” the woman asked.

In his response, Hickenlooper began by telling the woman to thank her great-nephew for his service. Hickenlooper went on to say he would encourage her nephew not to judge the country or the Senate by “one irrational senator.”

According to the Washington Post, Tuberville has frozen more than 300 promotions across the armed forces since February in protest of a policy that provides paid leave and travel reimbursements for service members who must leave the state they are stationed in to receive an abortion.

“I like Tommy Tuberville — he’s a nice person, very polite, very cordial — but he is so obsessed and I think he’s gotten political benefits,” Hickenlooper told the crowd. “He’s using this to raise money.”

Hickenlooper further explained that the military gives service members time off for every other medical procedure they may need, and Hickenlooper talked about how the Supreme Court didn’t make abortions illegal but instead turned abortion into a state issue. Hickenlooper also took a few minutes to go over the promotions process in the Senate.

“Anyway, I went on too much,” Hickenlooper said. “Tuberville, I think he’s an embarrassment.”

Hickenlooper faced other questions on U.S. energy policy, the closures of coal mines and coal-fired power plants in Hayden and Craig, immigration, Ukraine and more.

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