U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) responded, “I don’t know,” when asked during a recent televised debate if the GOP presidential nominee deserves to be labeled a sexual predator for the actions Donald Trump professed to taking on a 2005 tape.
“Mike Coffman said he doesn’t know if Donald Trump is a sexual predator,” Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, said in a statement. “Colorado women do. Grabbing a woman’s body without her consent is the definition of sexual assault. This is not difficult.”
Middleton echoed the response of Coffman’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, who during the October 20 debate said, “The definition of grabbing people without their consent is the definition of sexual assault and sexual harassment. It’s his words not mine.”
Trump dismissed his 2005 comments as “locker-room talk” and has asserted that “nobody that has more respect for women than I do.”
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Coffman did not return a call from Rewire seeking comment. In response to the “sexual predator” question during the debate, he also said, “I’ve worked very hard as a member on the Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan basis to work on preventing sexual assaults in our military.”
Coffman’s race to retain his seat, located in Denver’s eastern suburbs, is considered a “toss up” by the independent Cook Political Report.
Coffman’s position toward Trump has evolved during the campaign. He said through a spokesperson in February that he would “obviously” vote for Trump if he won the Republican primary. Then Coffman said in August that he would “stand up” to Trump. Finally, in October, the Colorado incumbent announced he may not vote for president at all and Trump should “step aside.”
Coffman’s hometown newspaper, the Aurora Sentinel, wrote in an October 21 editorial that Coffman’s decision to punt on the “sexual predator” question could push the member of Congress off the Trump “tightrope” that he has walked:
Coffman’s political tightrope act has clearly gone too far. He has for months tried to find a way to appeal to a congressional district that mostly finds Trump repugnant, while at the same time trying not to anger a sizable base of misguided Trump supporters. He can’t have it both ways on this issue. Trump’s blatant misogyny and admitted sexual assaults are not debatable political philosophies, no matter how loudly Trump and his supporters say they are.
After Coffman’s comments, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who is widely expected to win re-election this year, told the Denver Post on October 24 that Trump’s “language” and alleged behavior are “certainly consistent” with being a sexual predator.
The question of whether Trump is a sexual predator exploded once again last week after former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich insisted that Trump was “not a sexual predator” and accused Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly of being “fascinated with sex” based on her discussions of Trump’s lewd comments.
Coffman has a long record of opposing reproductive rights, including support of a total ban on abortion care. After his district was re-drawn based on the 2010 Census, making it more competitive, he withdrew his support for a radical “personhood” abortion ban and modified other conservative stances.
Coffman featured an unauthorized Planned Parenthood logo in a 2014 campaign advertisement aimed at women voters, but after his decisive victory, he joined House Republicans last year in voting to cut federal funds for Planned Parenthood.