Tom Tancredo

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Tom Tancredo served the 6th Congressional district of Colorado from 1999-2008

Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo, a Republican, represented the 6th District of Colorado in the United States House of Representatives from 1999-2008. The district takes in most of Denver's southern suburbs. (map)

Record and controversies

Tancredo immediately attracted controversy when he refused to attend a White House party for newly elected Congressmen, saying that Bill Clinton was not "a real president." Four months into his term, the Columbine High School shooting occurred less than a mile from Tancredo's home in Littleton, Colorado. He received considerable criticism for taking money from groups opposed to gun control and only took 53% of the vote in 2000, the lowest voting percentage in the district's history. However, with less opposition in subsequent elections, he was reelected in 2002 and 2004. Prior to the 2004 election, he announced that he would break his pledge and run for a fourth term because the issue of illegal immigration required his continuing presence in Congress. Tancredo has announced his intention to run yet again in 2006.

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Tom Tancredo voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

Tancredo voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[1]

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Voting record

Immigration issues

Tancredo is noted for his outspoken criticism of ineffective border control and illegal immigration, and his support for general immigration reduction. His supporters claim he represents the silent Majority of American citizens who want existing U.S. laws upheld. His critics claim he is xenophobic and that his proposed measures do not address underlying causes. He has received press attention for highlighting individual illegal immigrant families for deportation, such as that of an honor student trying to gain admission to the University of Colorado at Boulder, who had publicly complained about having to pay out-of-state tuition rates because he was illegally in the country.

In May 1999, Tancredo founded the House Immigration Reform Caucus. He still serves as its chairman. The caucus, made up mostly of Republicans, focuses on reviewing immigration policy but has not yet been successful in implementing significant reforms.

His advocacy for immigration reform is so strident that he has not been welcome in the White House since criticizing George W. Bush's border security controls. Tancredo and George W. Bush's political advisor, Karl Rove, got into a "screaming match" after Tancredo claimed that "if the nation suffered another attack at the hands of terrorists able to skirt immigration laws, 'the blood of the people killed' would be on the president's and Congress's hands... Rove responded by calling the congressman 'a traitor to the party', 'a traitor to the president' and warned him to never 'darken the doorstep of the White House.'" Tancredo responded that "the president's position on immigration is going to hurt him. I want the president to win the 2004 election. I am not doing any of these things or saying any of these things because I want to hurt the Republican Party or the president." [1] The National Review's David Frum wrote that "[n]o issue, not one, threatens to do more damage to the Republican coalition than immigration," [2] which many say explains in part Rove's sensitivity to Tancredo's criticism.

Once, according to The New Republic, "[w]hen The Denver Post profiled an illegal immigrant high school student with a 3.9 grade point average, Tancredo tried to have the boy deported." [3] The New Republic article also quotes Tancredo saying that keeping immigrants out of the United States is a question of national identity and accusing his opponents of nihilistic cultural relativism and anti-Americanism:

America is wrestling with an identity crisis. Part of it is a result of what I call the 'cult of multiculturalism.' The idea that there is nothing—nothing—of value in Western civilization, that we have nothing to offer the world, that we have nothing to offer as a viable society, that everything we have is bad and ugly.... If we are truly in a clash of civilizations... which I happen to believe, then it is important for us to understand who we are. What does it mean to be part of Western civilization? Are there inherent values that are worth anyone's allegiance?

The most significant immigration-related legislation that Tancredo has worked to pass is H.R. 946, The Mass Immigration Reduction Act of 2003. The act would have imposed an indefinite moratorium on immigration to the United States. Only 30,000 total legal immigrants would have been allowed into the country annually for at least the first five years of the act and, after that, until such time as there were fewer than 10,000 illegal immigrants entering per year. When those conditions were met immigration would only have been allowed at whatever level the president and both houses of Congress agreed would have no adverse impact on wages, housing, the environment, or schools. When last introduced in 2003, the bill had 11 cosponsors. Organizations that have endorsed Tancredo's bill include: NumbersUSA, Population-Environment Balance, Carrying Capacity Network, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Negative Population Growth, American Renaissance magazine, and the American Patrol.

Tancredo founded the Team America political action committee in order to collect contributions for immigration-restrictionist inclined congressional representatives and candidates. Due to campaign law he had to resign after founding it. The current chair is Bay Buchanan, sister of politician Pat Buchanan.

In February 2005, Tancredo announced he will seek the Republican nomination for president if all other candidates fail to address the illegal immigration problem. He is already visiting early primary states like New Hampshire. In July 2005, Tancredo confirmed that he was moving towards a presidential run. [4]

In February 2007, Tancredo criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for not running a Border Control advertisement during the Super Bowl. The NFL responded with a statement, "The reason [the ad wasn't included] was the language didn't fit in with the lighthearted tone of the program." The Ad contained the following: "It'll be your responsibility to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons into the United States". [5]

Calls to renew voting literacy tests=

In 2010, in a speech before the first national Tea Party convention, Tancredo blasted President Barack Obama, saying that "people who could not even spell the word 'vote', or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama." The comments were met with cheers from the conservative crowd.[2] He further said that requiring a civics literacy test would have kept Obama out of office.[3]

Main article: Congress and the National Football League

A December 2007 report by online journalist Max Blumenthal revealed that Tancredo, in 2001, hired a contractor that employed illegal immigrants when building a recreation room in his Littleton, Colorado home. According to the report, two of the workers on the construction crew contacted the Denver Post when they learned of Tancredo's stance on illegal immigration. The Congressman responded after the Post published a story detailing the incident, saying he didn't know "how many people I may have hired in the past as taxi drivers, as waiters, waitresses, home improvement people."[4]

Other Controversies

In July 2005, in a press release from his congressional office, Tancredo responded to Zhu Chenghu's statement advocating the use of nuclear weapons against the United States. Tancredo stated "For a senior government official to exhibit such tremendous stupidity by making such a brazen threat is hardly characteristic of a modern nation" and demanded an immediate apology from the Chinese government. [6]

The same day, during a radio interview on Orlando talk-radio station AM 540 WFLA, Tancredo responded to a question asking about a potential U.S. response to a nuclear attack on U.S. cities by al-Qaeda by saying that one response would be to retaliate by "taking out" Muslim holy sites (specifically, Mecca) if it were clearly proven that Islamic terrorists were behind such an attack. [7] Days later, in an interview on CNN together with James Zogby, Tancredo claimed he meant the comment as merely a threat to retaliate and refused to apologize.

Conservative Political Action Conference

On February 9, 2006, Tancredo addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference. Tancredo attacked the administration for its support of a guest-worker program for illegal aliens and its big-spending ways on education and Medicare prescription drugs."It is the President who is out of step with his party, not Tom Tancredo," the Colorado Republican said of himself to a standing ovation at 33rd annual gathering of conservatives.

Then he took on the Bush guest-worker plan and said:

It is the employer community which sees profits from cheap labor, and the hell with the (impact on) the American taxpayer. The conservative movement can either be the voice of principle ... or it can be the voice of the Chamber of Commerce, but it cannot be both.

Tancredo called for the repeal of two programs offered by President Bush: the No Child Left Behind Act and the Medicare prescription drug program. Both expanded the cost of government and drew the scorn of conservatives in Congress. Tancredo said the Big Government policies of the Bush administration need to be halted. He said conservatives must return the GOP to a "party of individual rights and shouldn't afraid to say it."

"The American people don't understand what Republicans stand for anymore," as he proudly declared that he had voted against Bush's prescription drug plan, his Central American trade proposal and his "$100 billion Katrina slush fund."

"American conservatives have watched dumbfounded as their Congress -- their Republican Congress -- and the Republican White House engineered the largest expansion of the federal government in modern history," Tancredo said.

Abandonment of race-based caucuses

After a similar failed initiative in 2003, Tancredo launched an initiative to end race-based caucuses on January 25, 2007. Tancredo's reasoning was that using race as "a prerequisite for any organization’s membership" goes against the notion of a "color-blind society." [8]

Announced retirement plans

On October 28, 2007, after the Colorado Rockies lost the World Series, Rep. Tom Tancredo, who is seeking the presidential bid, announced that he will retire at the end of the current 110th Congress. “It's the fact that I really believe I have done all I can do in the House, especially about the issue about which I care greatly [immigration],” said Tancredo as he campaigns for presidency. The heated GOP primary which is predicted to replace Tancredo include state Sens. Ted Harvey and Tom Wiens and the son of former Sen. Bill Armstrong (R-Colo.), Wil Armstrong.[5]


Tancredo was born December 20, 1945 in Denver. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in political science.

In 1976, while teaching history at Drake Junior High School in Denver, he ran for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives and won. He served two terms, and was one of the leaders of a group of conservative Republican legislators that was once called "House crazies" by Governor of Colorado Dick Lamm. Despite that comment, Lamm now shares Tancredo's passionate interest in immigration matters, and has frequently appeared with Tancredo to speak against current immigration policy.

After Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1981, he appointed Tancredo as Denver regional representative for the Department of Education. He stayed on through the first Bush administration, paring the office's staff to 60 employees, down from 225 when he arrived. In 1993, he became president of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank based in Golden, Colorado, serving there until his election to Congress. He was also a leader in the Colorado term limits movement.

In 1998, Dan Schaefer decided not to run for a seventh full term in the 6th District. Running on a promise to serve only three terms in Congress, Tancredo narrowly won the five-way Republican primary and went on to victory in November. He is only the second person to represent the 6th District since its creation in 1983 (former astronaut Jack Swigert was elected as the district's first congressman in 1982, but died before taking office).

During much of the 108th Congress, Tancredo's major focus besides immigration was his opposition to ethnic and race-based caucuses in the House. However, a proposal to eliminate House recognition for them did not gain support.

He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network and has been active in pushing for the United States to increase its involvement in the Darfur conflict.

2006 elections

In 2006, the Democrats nominated Bill Winter to face Tancredo in his November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [9] Tancredo retained his seat.

2008 presidential election

Tancredo announced that he would form a presidential exploratory committee, the first step towards candidacy in the 2008 presidential election, on January 16, 2007. [10]

Set to abandon presidential bid

On December 19, 2007 a person close to Tancredo said the Colorado congressman planned to announce he was abandoning his presidential candidacy. The source said he planned to make the announcement at a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa on December 20. Tancredo's official campaign only said that he planned a "major announcement." Tancredo had consistently polled at the bottom of the nine-person Republican presidential field. he had based his campaign on opposition to illegal immigration. He ran television ads liking border security to terrorist attacks, rape, and other crimes.[6]

In Ocrtober 2007 Tancredo announced he would not seek a sixth term in Congress, but hinted at a Senate run after his presidential campaign. Senator Wayne Allard's seat was to retire in 2008, opening up the Colorado senate seat.[7]

Ended candidacy

On December 21 Tancredo dropped his presidential bid and endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Tancredo had previously criticized Romney on immigration, Tancredo's central issue. However, at an Iowa press conference, the Colorado congressman said he had met with Romney to discuss immigration and believed the former governor would do the right thing.[8]

Tancredo said he was dropping out of the race because he feared if he stayed in, he would not win and it might help a worse candidate on immigration win the Republican nomination. "While several of the candidates appear to be committed to our cause, there are others whose records as public servants are abysmal on this issues," Tancredo said. Tancredo said his campaign was a success because it had made immigration one of the most strongly debated issues among Republicans.[9]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00006103&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Tom Tancredo
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations

Committee assignments in the 110th Congress (2007-2008)

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Coalitions and Caucuses

  • President, Independence Institute, 1993-1998
  • Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus
  • Republican Study Committee

Boards and other Affiliations

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Tom Tancredo. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and resources


  1. Roll call vote, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
  2. Paul Steinhauser Tea Party Convention organizer: Tancredo gave 'fantastic speech' CNN Politics, February 6, 2010
  3. Eric Zimmerman Tancredo tells Tea Partiers: Literacy test for voters would have stopped Obama The Hill, February 5, 2010
  4. Max Blumenthal, "Tom Tancredo Hired Illegal Laborers to Renovate His McMansion", Alter.Net, December 1, 2007
  5. David M. Drucker, "Tancredo to Retire at End of 110th Congress," Roll Call, October 29, 2007.
  6. George Merritt, "Tancredo to Abandon Presidential Bid," The AP, December 19, 2007.
  7. George Merritt, "Tancredo to Abandon Presidential Bid," The AP, December 19, 2007.
  8. Walter Alarkon, "Tancredo quits presidential race," The Hill, December 20, 2007.
  9. Walter Alarkon, "Tancredo quits presidential race," The Hill, December 20, 2007.
  10. The growth of the Sudan Campaign, SudanReeves, accessed August 4, 2008.
  11. About us, Servant's Heart, accessed August 4, 2008.

External resources

Local blogs and discussion sites

External articles

External articles by Tancredo


DC Office:
1130 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0606
Phone: 202-225-7882
Fax: 202-226-4623
Web Email

District Office- Centennial:
6099 South Quebec Street, Suite 200
Centennial, CO 80111-4547
Phone: 720-283-9772
Fax: 720-283-9776

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: None
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committees: House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Committee on Foreign Affairs/Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, House Committee on Foreign Affairs/Subcommittee on Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade, House Committee on Natural Resources, House Committee on Natural Resources/Subcommittee on National Parks Forests and Public Lands
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 3, 1998
First Took Current Office:
January 3, 1999
Next Election:
Term Ends:
January 3, 2009
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
Colorado State Legislature
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
Phone: / Fax:

Campaign Contact:

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Date of Birth: December 20, 1945