Another GOP candidate questions church-state divide
The Associated Press reports:
Colorado Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck has questioned the separation of government and religion, drawing criticism from Democrats who last week chided another tea party candidate for the same view.
Buck's opponents have been circulating a clip of him from a 2009 GOP forum in which he won applause from a conservative crowd at Colorado Christian University when he said the Constitution doesn't require church and state to be separate.
"I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution," Buck said on the video. "While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that's sanctioned by the government, it doesn't mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion."
Democrats spread the Buck video after Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell was panned for questioning in a debate last week whether the separation of church and state is in the Constitution.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this week called Buck's remark "extreme" and "egregious."
Democratic allies also spread a clip from Buck earlier this year in which he repeated his opposition to abortion rights. Buck said he believes the Supreme Court wrongly cited privacy rights in its Roe v. Wade abortion decision.
Buck clarified his church-and-state position Tuesday on CNN.
"I agree with the idea that there is a separation of church and state. That teachers should not be leading prayer, a particular kind of prayer in classrooms.
"What I have said is that I think the federal government and we as a society have come too far in trying to separate good organizations that perform good functions for people just based on the fact one has a religious association and one doesn't," Buck said.
Buck's opponent, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, has defended his campaign's reliance use of old Buck remarks, saying it's fair to highlight Buck positions that are outside the mainstream.
Republicans are digging into Bennet's past, too.
The GOP this week passed to reporters financial disclosure reports showing that Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools superintendent, owned stock in JP Morgan Chase, a firm involved in a 2008 financing deal to cover a $400 million gap in the school system's pension fund.
Bennet supported the proposed deal to the Denver school board, which unanimously backed it in hopes of saving tens of millions of dollars in annual debt costs. A Bennet spokesman said Wednesday that the senator's financial stake in JP Morgan Chase came in a fund Bennet didn't control.
Bennet sold stock in JP Morgan Chase in January 2009.