Mountain States

Clinton Campaign Thought Bernie Sanders’ Ban-Fracking Agenda Too “Extreme, Unfeasible” for Colorado

Clinton Team Floated Polis to “Whack Sanders for Taking an Irresponsible Position” on Fracking

Citing the climate and economic benefits of fracking, Clinton campaign aides called Bernie Sanders’ ban-fracking agenda “extreme,” “unfeasible” and “irresponsible” according to a trove of leaked emails published this week.

These emails focused on Clinton’s primary campaign strategy in Colorado after Bernie released an anti-fracking ad in the state.  What’s pretty clear is that Clinton’s aides recognized that a ban-fracking agenda would not sell with energy-state voters.  From the exchange:

“What does that mean? A complete 100% fracking ban. There is no elected dem and I believe no enviro group that takes this position. In fact, such an extreme position threatens the progress of common-sense safety measures like frack fluid disclosure and methane capture/air quality regulations.”

“The Denver Post Editorial Board could really smack him for this. This is tricky waters for caucus goers but his language may leave him vulnerable.”

Those points were reiterated in what is apparently a draft statement from the Clinton campaign proposed as a response to Sander’s ad:

“Bernie’s call for banning all hydraulic fracturing is, extreme, unfeasible and ignores the contribution natural gas has made to our economy and our efforts to reduce carbon pollution.”

But curiously, Clinton’s staffers go on to suggest that Boulder Congressman Jared Polis voice opposition to Sanders’ ad. Also from the exchange:

“Jared Polis is a regarded as a leader of the regulating fracking team in > CO and his argument is reforms, not a ban.”

And later in the email chain from another campaign staffer:

“I would prefer an ally (congressman polis and/or LCV) Who have strong bone fides on the environment to whack sander’s for taking an irresponsible position and in doing so, threatening real progress on frack fluid disclosure and air quality regulations. This is yet another promise he can’t keep.” “emphasis added)

Of course, Colorado politics observers will know that Congressman Polis would have been very unlikely to take the campaign up on their offer to “whack sanders” given his long-running opposition to fracking in the state. In fact, less than a month before this exchange took place, Polis was openly speculating that he might throw his support behind activists proposing a series of ballot measures that would have effectively banned fracking in the state – a threat he later made good on, financially backing the campaign pushing the initiatives.

While the Clinton campaign had clearly done their homework on where Coloradans stand on fracking, they missed the mark when it came to their messenger of choice. But the bottom line is they clearly understood that a ban-fracking agenda doesn’t sell in Colorado.

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