The Denver mayor was interviewed by KBDI on the announcement the Matthew Shepard Foundation would be headquartered in Denver. Shepard was a University of Wyoming student who was killed because he was gay.
In the interview with Eden Lane for the program OUTSpoken, Hickenlooper was asked why he thought the Shepard family had brought its foundation to Denver since it did not have any direct connection to Colorado.
The mayor's remarks, highlighted on Friday by the National Review Online, are as follows: "I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico."
Numerous right-leaning blogs pounced on the remark to assert Hickenlooper was out of touch.
"I am not O.K. with someone who wants to be governor of our WHOLE state saying there is 'backwards thinking' in rural Colorado," wrote Kelly Maher of the website, WhoSaidYouSaid.com. "The murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 was awful; to see that happen to any human being is heartbreaking. That, however, should not be the basis to paint any people, based on where they live, with so broad a brush as the mayor did. He should apologize."
Hickenlooper's campaign Communications Director George Merritt issued a statement to 9NEWS that read: "John was making the point that the kind of intolerance that led to Matthew Shepard's murder is not unique to a single community in Wyoming. It's something that can happen in any community. He wishes he had articulated the point better to make it clear that any community is susceptible to hatred, but he continues to feel strongly that the intolerance that killed Shepard is backwards and not acceptable."
Hickenlooper's main rivals for the position being vacated by Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) are Republican Dan Maes and Constitution Party nominee Tom Tancredo.
Read the full remarks on the topic from Hickenlooper here.
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