In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Bennet Rolls Out Campaign Strategy: Buck Joins Angle And Paul In 'Tea Party Threesome'

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"What we see is a very clear race between two candidates with very different views," Bennet campaign manager Craig Hughes told reporters on a conference call. Hughes said Buck had already started to walk back statements on social security and the 17th amendment that he'd made during the primary, saying "There's a real trust issue when it comes down to Ken Buck." Earlier in the week, the Bennet campaign distributed a list of pre-primary statements that Buck had made on issues like social security, student loans, and the 17th amendment, and comparing them to conflicting statements made since then.

Hughes said Buck had "joined in with the Sharron Angle, Rand Paul crowd" in a "tea party threesome."

While Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper has released an ad pledging to not run negative ads in his campaign, Hughes said Bennet would "will respond in kind" to any negative attacks from Buck or groups supporting him.

"I think what you saw in the primary is we responded when attacked," Hughes said. "You can expect a pretty aggressive campaign for us."

Hughes also said that Bennet had benefited from a tough primary fight with Andrew Romanoff.

"[Bennet] became better in terms of the message and what he's talking about, and his comfort level," Hughes said.

The TPM Poll Average for this race shows Buck leading Bennet 45.7%-42.8%.