ABC News' Rick Klein reports: Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck last week distanced himself from former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., when Tancredo called President Obama "the greatest threat to our way of life."
On ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line,” Buck, R-Colo., clarified his statement, saying that it’s the “progressive liberal movement” that he thinks is the “largest threat” to the country, not the president himself. That movement poses a bigger threat than al Qaeda or Iran, he said.
“I said at the time that I did not agree with Tom Tancredo in the sense that -- I think what is going on right now, with the deficit spending and the huge debt and unfunded liabilities, as you just mentioned, is a huge threat,” Buck, the district attorney of Weld County, Colo., told us.
“And I think that the president is leading a progressive liberal movement that is causing, to a certain extent, the threat. Certainly, we had deficit spending under President Bush and in the Republican Congress -- House and Senate. But I think the largest threat we really have is the progressive liberal movement. I think if Barack Obama stepped down tomorrow, we would still have that threat.”
Asked specifically if the threat from liberals is greater than that posed by al Qaeda or Iran, or terrorist groups broadly, Buck said:
“I believe that, because if we continue to spend the way we’re spending, we will not have the ability to focus on those external threats that you just mentioned.”
Buck – a favorite of the Tea Party movement – has taken heat for calling Social Security “horrible, bad policy.” But he said today that it’s important for Congress to protect Social Security from cuts in “any way.”
“No, I don't support getting rid of Social Security. I think the most important thing we can do is to make sure we keep the promise that we have made to seniors. What I was referring to there -- I think earlier, there was a question about taking the funds out of the Social Security trust fund and putting IOUs in that trust fund so that members of Congress could vote for and fund pork-barrel projects in their districts. And I think that is a horrible policy,” he said.
“I think we've made a promise in Social Security. I think we need to make sure that the promise is just as viable today as it was 20 years ago, and I think we need to make sure that we have a program that our younger generation of workers believes in and believes it will be in place when they get around to the point where they’re ready to retire,” Buck said.
“I think that Social Security is a viable program and can be made viable with sitting down with some people that are very knowledgeable in the area and figuring out what to do. I don't think Social Security needs -- in any way -- to be cut,” he added.
As for budget items he would cut:
“We need to look at the Constitution as a guide to what the federal government should be involved in, what they shouldn't be involved in,” Buck said. “There are some programs -- the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, things like that -- that I don't think the federal government needs to be doing when we're in the situation that we're in right now. Those are not big-ticket items. The big-ticket items, I think, are gonna require a lot of thought and a lot of discussion in the United States Senate, and I can't sit here and go through the budget line-by-line with you and tell you, ‘These are the things that I would cut.’ ”
Buck is locked in a tight primary with Jane Norton, a former Colorado lieutenant governor who is enjoys the backing of much of the GOP establishment.
“My opponent has supported the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Colorado. I support term limits on senators and members of the House; she does not,” Buck said. “There are a number of policy differences, and really, when I started this campaign, I started running by going to all 64 counties and building a grass-roots base. She started with a top-down model. And when we go to DC, our allegiance would be to two different entities. And my allegiance will be to the citizens of Colorado who got me there.”
For our “Post Politics” segment, we checked in with Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post on the crowded legislative agenda, plus a new survey of federal workers that shows employees of the Office of Management and Budget to be particularly disaffected with their agency’s leadership.