- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Colorado Senate race saw an unusual reversal of politics yesterday as the Republican candidate defended his financial support of a homosexual event featuring leather and fetish parties and the Democrat kept a careful distance from presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

Republican Pete Coors, chairman of the Coors Brewing Co., and Democrat Attorney General Ken Salazar disagreed on every subject except campaign advertising. Each has urged the other to run a positive campaign, but the advertising campaign has turned negative.

Mr. Coors defended his company’s decision to be a sponsor of the Black and Blue 2004 festival in Montreal, a weeklong affair that began yesterday and is expected to draw 80,000 attendants to the Leather Ball, the Raunch Fetish night and a male nude revue.

“Companies ought to be able to make decisions on how they deal with these issues,” Mr. Coors said.

The beer baron said he opposes same-sex “marriage” and adoption by homosexual couples, and asked whether those positions are inconsistent with his company’s actions during a debate aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Coors said “no.”

“One of the values in our company is that we respect all of our employees and their hard work. We respect their passion, their integrity. One of our qualities — our values include equality,” Mr. Coors said.

“It is about recognizing that everyone in this country should be valued for what they are, and I believe that’s the way we recognize it at our company,” Mr. Coors said.

Mr. Salazar, who opposed adoption by homosexual couples when he ran for attorney general in 2002, said he since has changed his mind and thinks that “gay couples should be able to adopt a child if it is in the best interest of the child.”

The candidates appeared diametrically opposed to their parties’ platforms on the Iraqi war, the death penalty and legal drinking age.

One television ad attacks Mr. Coors for opposing the death penalty for Osama bin Laden, a stance he reiterated yesterday. Another ad criticizes Mr. Salazar for not supporting the Patriot Act.

Mr. Salazar has not attended any of the five campaign appearances by Mr. Kerry in Colorado, but says he is “not running away from John Kerry.”

“John Kerry is a person who has done a lot for this country, who has served this country with distinction. He is somebody who I support. I don’t mind saying that at all, because I do believe that he’s going to be the next president of the United States,” Mr. Salazar said.

“I will campaign with him in Colorado when he comes, but I am not going to change my schedule just because there happens to be a candidate that comes into the state of Colorado,” he said.

But in yesterday’s debate, Mr. Salazar consistently cited Republicans who supported his stance on issues, for example, saying he sides with Sens. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and John McCain of Arizona in saying that the war in Iraq is a “mess.”

He added, though, that he would have voted in favor of giving President Bush the authority to go to war, even if intelligence had showed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The two candidates differ on what they think should happen to bin Laden if he is caught — Mr. Salazar wants the death penalty, and Mr. Coors thinks it would be a stronger punishment if the terrorist were imprisoned for life.

“If we kill him in the process, that’s just fine with me because we are at war,” Mr. Coors said.

“I think his attitude is, he wants to go to Allah. If he wants to go to Allah, by killing him, we would be granting his wish and perhaps even suggesting that he is a martyr. Keeping him in a box and letting him think about when he is going to eventually end up in his heaven, I think, would be a more severe punishment than putting him to death,” Mr. Coors said.

The establishment of drinking ages is set by states, but Mr. Coors said he would vote in favor of any state referendum to lower the age to 18, even though it might limit federal dollars.

“But, look, we send our young people off to fight wars. We feel they’re responsible enough to vote,” Mr. Coors said.

Mr. Salazar said he would not support lowering the drinking age.

“I think he would sacrifice highway money, and I think also what he would do is sacrifice the lives of young people,” Mr. Salazar said.

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