Senator Slams Constituents Who Criticized His Flip-Flop

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) is making headlines for describing a conservative Christian group as the "antichrist," a comment he now says he regrets.

During an interview with a Colorado Springs TV station on Tuesday, Salazar said, "From my point of view, they [Focus on the Family] are the antichrist of the world."

Among other things, Salazar accused the group of organizing a protest at his family's Dairy Queen. But Focus on the Family said the protest was actually staged by a Denver church.

On Wednesday, press reports quoted Salazar as saying that he meant to describe Focus on the Family's approach as "un-Christian, meaning self-serving and selfish."

"I spoke about Jim Dobson and his efforts and used the term 'the anti-Christ,"' Salazar reportedly said in a written statement from his office. "I regret having used that term."

Focus on the Family has targeted Salazar for failing to support an up-or-down vote on President Bush's judicial nominees, as he said he would do.

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News editorial board on Nov. 8, 2004, Salazar -- then a U.S. Senate candidate -- said he favored an up-or-down vote by the full Senate on judicial nominees.

The newspaper's editorial board wrote at the time, "We hope he sticks with that position even if his Democratic colleagues-to-be lean on him, as they are almost certain to do."

But Salazar, like every other Senate Democrat, now opposes a Senate rule change that would allow President Bush's most conservative nominees to get an up-or-down vote.

In a letter posted on his website, Salazar has urged his Senate colleagues to "move forward in a spirit of bipartisanship to end the logjam over the question of the President's judicial nominees and to avoid breaking the Senate rules..."

Focus on the Family dismissed Salazar's "antichrist" comment as "overheated rhetoric."

"He's using overheated rhetoric to draw attention away from his broken campaign promises," said Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's vice president of government and public policy.

"He told the voters of Colorado, when he was trying to win their votes, that he supported up-or-down votes for judicial nominees; now he's backing his party's filibusters.

"Our disagreements with him are rooted in the work he is doing in representing the people of our state. His disagreements with us seem to go much deeper than that."

Focus on the Family is based in Colorado Springs, making its employees Salazar's constitutents.

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