On a week when the Bob Beauprez campaign was buoyed by a poll that showed him in a 44 percent tie with Gov. John Hickenlooper, it was instead a different number that stirred a media buzz.
Hours into a statewide Republican "unity tour" on July 2 - where Beauprez traveled with former GOP rivals and his newly pegged gubernatorial running mate - Beauprez's campaign ended up having to deal with the resurfacing of old comments.
A 2010 video obtained by the Denver Post shows Beauprez making comments to the Denver Rotary Club that were reminiscent of those made by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 - ones that ended up derailing the Romney campaign.
"I see something that frankly doesn't surprise me, having been on the Ways and Means Committee: Forty-seven percent of all Americans pay no federal income tax," Beauprez said. "I'm guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47 percent - God bless you - but what that tells me is that we've got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill, and most of that half is you all."
Beauprez said "there is a political strategy" on the part of Democrats to keep a large number of people dependent on the government because it helps their party create a "permanent ruling majority."
Democrats pounced on Beauprez's comments.
"When he was catering to his Tea Party base to win a primary, he warned of an impending 'civil war' and attacked 47 percent of Americans, including veterans and seniors, as lazy," said Jennifer Koch, executive director for the Colorado Democratic Party, through an emailed statement. "Now he is trying sell his 'Unity Tour' across our state."
But the Beauprez campaign stood by the comments. Campaign manager Dustin Olson said in an emailed statement that Beauprez was making the point that "it's sad more people are not doing well enough to pay federal income tax."
Beauprez does refer to income tax in his comments, which is a more accurate assessment than the one Romney made when he was speaking to Republican donors in 2010. Romney said that 47 percent of the country would end up voting for President Barack Obama "no matter what" because they are "dependent on the government."
Still, Beauprez's and Romney's comments have a similar tone. Romney said that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims and feel they are "entitled" to government benefits. Beauprez said that many people are "happy" to let the wealthy class take care of them.
Olson said the attack over Beauprez's comments from four years ago is a futile effort on the part of Democrats to distract them from recent news in the race.
"Clearly Hickenlooper and his radical liberal allies are desperate following the recent Rasmussen poll showing Bob Beauprez tied with John Hickenlooper," Olson said.
The poll, which was conducted in the days after Beauprez won the Republican primary, shows Beauprez tied with Hickenlooper, with both men garnering 44 of support from respondents. Eight percent said they were undecided, while 4 percent said they preferred another candidate.
Rasmussen is considered a Republican-friendly polling firm.
As for Hickenlooper, he told reporters after an unrelated Capitol press conference on July 3 that he had not seen the Beauprez video.
"I just haven't had time...." Hickenlooper said. "I keep intending to get to seeing that video and understanding it, but as you guys all know there's a bunch of other stuff (to deal with). You tell me what I should be spending my time on?"
Beauprez touts party unity
The comments surfaced the day Beauprez rallied Republican support on a statewide "unity tour." The tour featured several prominent Republicans, including his former rivals in the GOP gubernatorial primary - former Congressman Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp.
All three men attended a Lakewood stop, where they conveyed the importance of winning Jefferson County - a swing county that is sure to be a key battleground in the fall.
"It's a swinging county in a swinging state," Gessler told the crowd that was huddled inside a Jefferson County Republican campaign office. "The way Jefferson County goes will be the way Colorado goes in November. He will win if you all deliver Jefferson County."
Beauprez also introduced lieutenant governor candidate Jill Repella as his running mate.
The Douglas County commissioner and Colorado native touted her county for having one of the fastest job-growth rates in the country. She also said the Democratic-majority Legislature "has run amok" by creating laws that hurt local communities - Repella provided no specifics behind that claim.
"I always thought of Colorado as a place where you can breathe freely," she said. "I feel suffocated now. I fell suffocated because of the things that are being pushed down on us in our communities."
Beauprez made comments that were similar to those he has been making throughout the campaign - ones that try to paint Hickenlooper as a failed leader who believes that more government is the answer to Coloradans' problems.
"That's the real question that's on your ballot this fall," he said. "Do we as voters believe and trust in the beauty and decency and the genius of people, or do we believe in government? I believe in people."