Colorado Republican strikes Democratic tone in first ad

Endangered Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.) strikes a decidedly Democratic tone in his first ad, touting his independence from his own party on women-friendly policy and moves that have won him praise from a group that supports abortion rights.

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The 30-second spot highlights Coffman’s service as a Marine, his work to protect victims of sexual assault in the military, and his efforts two decades ago as a state legislator to prevent health insurers from discriminating on the basis of gender.

The ad also says he “bucked his own party to help pass the Violence Against Women Act.” His support for the bill’s reauthorization in 2013, with just 32 other House Republicans, won him plaudits from Planned Parenthood, a group that gave him a 0 percent rating on its most recent scorecard.

“It’s nice to know someone has our back,” a woman says at the end of the ad. “That’s Mike Coffman.”

Coffman is locked in a tough battle with former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a top Democratic recruit looking to take advantage of the favorable political terrain in the district, where voters picked Obama twice.

The two have been sparring over women’s issues in an effort to woo a key constituency that typically breaks for Democrats and will help decide the district this fall. Democrats have made Coffman’s previous support for personhood measures, which would restrict access to birth control and effectively ban abortion, a central focus of attacks, and recently pounced when he forgot the term “birth control” during a debate.

Denise Baron, Romanoff’s spokeswoman, knocked Coffman for that flub in a statement, and said that “actions speak louder than advertisements.”

“It’s what the congressman is doing in Washington — not just what he’s saying in Colorado — that matters. If you want to call yourself a champion for equality, you don’t block equal pay and you don’t restrict women’s access to healthcare,” she said.

President Obama remains deeply unpopular in Colorado, however, and so Romanoff has made a similar effort to define himself as a centrist, declaring his support for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in his first ad. His second ad emphasized the need for student loan reform.

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