Tom Tancredo. The man. The myth. The nativist.
Yesterday, the former Republican congressman and 2008 presidential candidate upended the Colorado gubernatorial race by backing up his threat to run as a third-party candidate if the two leading Republican candidates didn’t vow to drop out.
Tancredo will run under the banner of the Constitution Party, a religiously conservative, right-wing group that has had little electoral success to boast of since its founding in 1992. But Tancredo’s career hasn’t really been about religion. Instead, his focus has been on immigration and border issues. And by focus, we mean extremist obsession.
Tancredo’s presence on the ballot in the general election could siphon votes away from the eventual Republican gubernatorial nominee in Colorado. But it’s also likely to draw more attention to his personal brand of acute immigrant-phobia and border hysteria — a scary political philosophy that will now be given the platform of a gubernatorial campaign.
TPM went back and dredged up some of Tancredo’s most noxious statements.
1. The Time Tancredo Argued Obama Is A Greater Threat Than Al Queda
Tancredo’s current crusade is convincing the American people that President Obama poses a bigger threat to the country than the perpetrators of the worst terrorist act in the nation’s history. It’s quite an argument — and it even prompted Fox News’ outrage-addicted anchor Megyn Kelly to say “it’s tough to take you seriously.”
2. The Time Tancredo Called Sotomayor A Member Of The “Latino KKK”
In the midst of right-wing fear-mongering last year over the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, Tancredo was outraged by her membership on the National Council of La Raza, an organization that describes itself as “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.” Tancredo had a different conception, describing the group as “a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.”
3. The Time Tancredo Lamented Miami Becoming “A Third World Country”
In a 2006 interview with World Net Daily, Tancredo warned of an impending “North American Union,” and pointed to Miami as an example of what we could expect from immigration. “Look at what has happened to Miami. It has become a Third World country,” he said. “You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you’re in the United States of America. You would certainly say you’re in a Third World country.”
4. The Time Tancredo Accused The Pope Of Welcoming Illegal Immigrants To The U.S. To Boost Church Membership
In 2008, when Pope Benedict XVI visited the U.S., Tancredo called out the Holy See after Benedict urged communities to “welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today.”
“I suspect the pope’s immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church,” Tancredo said. “This isn’t preaching; it is faith-based marketing.”
5. The Time Tancredo Said He Didn’t Know Whether The Obama Administration Hates White People
Appearing on MSNBC last year, Tancredo was asked if he agreed with Rush Limbaugh’s statement that the Obama administration hated white people. Tancredo’s answer?
“What do I — I have no idea if they hate white people or not. But I will tell you this,” he said. “I am sick of having people suggest that because I am Caucasian, I cannot — and that’s the suggestion here — is that if you are white, Caucasian, male, you cannot comment on this sort of thing.”
6. The Time Tancredo Put Out An Ad Depicting A Fictional Terrorist Attack
In 2007, one of Tancredo’s presidential campaign ads warned that there are “consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who come to take our jobs.” For instance: KABOOOM!
7. The Time Tancredo Suggested The U.S. Respond To A Terrorist Nuclear Attack By Bombing Mecca
In 2007, Tancredo asserted that if Muslim extremists attacked the country with nuclear weapons, “you could take out their holy sites.”
A Tancredo spokesperson later clarified that “he is open-minded and willing to embrace other options,” but that the willingness to consider bombing holy sites “shows that we mean business… there’s no more effective deterrent than that.”
8. The Time Tancredo Wanted To Kick Anti-Border Fence Towns Out Of The Country, And Then Build A Fence So That They Were On The Other Side
Tancredo has always been a big proponent of a border fence. So when mayors from towns along the U.S.-Mexico border opposed constructing a fence through their towns, Tancredo demonstrated his knack for problem solving and came up with a neat little solution: “build the border fence north of these communities.”
“These mayors have already demonstrated that their hearts and loyalties lie with Mexico,” Tancredo said. “Perhaps they’d feel more comfortable if their cities were geographically located there as well.”
9. The Time Tancredo Introduced The Jihad Prevention Act
In 2008, while still in Congress, Tancredo introduced legislation to “require aliens to attest that they will not advocate installing a Sharia law system in the United States as a condition for admission.”
10. The Time Tancredo Declared Obama Was Elected Because “We Do Not Have A Civics, Literacy Test”
When Tancredo spoke on the opening night of the National Tea Party Convention in February, he took a little detour from his traditional anti-immigration screeds to venture into voting rights. He argued that the lack of a “civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country” contributed to Obama’s election. Literacy tests, of course, were used to keep blacks from voting during the Jim Crow era.
11. The Time Tancredo Had An Aide Who Karate Chopped A Black Woman And Called Her “Nigger”
In June 2009, Marcus Epstein, the executive director of Tancredo’s political action committee, plead guilty to charges stemming from an incident where he “uttered, “Nigger,” as he delivered a karate chop to Ms. [REDACTED]’s head.”
12. The Time Tancredo Told A Crowd Obama Should Be Sent Back To Kenya
In April, during the keynote address at a Tea Party rally in South Carolina, Tancredo told a crowd that we’re “going to have to pray that we can hold on to this country.” And added this about the president: “If his wife says Kenya is his homeland, why don’t we just send him back?”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com