A major liability hanging over the candidacy of Rep. Cory Gardner for the U.S. Senate is video from a 2010 congressional primary debate from Gardner's run for CD-4, wherein Gardner proudly declares his support for the "Personhood" abortion ban–even going so far as to tell how he helped circulate the petition to get the measure on the ballot.
Here's another clip from the same 2010 debate that could well pose trouble for Gardner in his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. As you watch this, keep in mind the mood of the Republican primary electorate in 2010, with the "Tea Party" raging and "Obamacare" a fresh scare story:
ADAM SCHRAGER: Coverage of pre-existing conditions: have to be a part of any health care reform?
DIGGS BROWN: Absolutely.
SCHRAGER: Mr. Gardner?
CORY GARDNER: No. [Pols emphasis]
SCHRAGER: Mr. Lucero?
DEAN MADERE: Honestly, no, I don't think the federal government should be getting involved in the health care system.
SCHRAGER: Mr. Lucero?
TOM LUCERO: No.
In this remarkable fifteen seconds of video, not just Gardner, but every single candidate in the CD-4 primary except for former Fort Collins City Councilman Diggs Brown says that pre-existing conditions do not need to be covered as part of health care reform. The mandate that insurance companies cover patients with pre-existing conditions, who were in many cases uninsurable prior to the Affordable Care Act, is one of the most popular parts of President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law. In the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican Mitt Romney repeatedly assured voters that his "plan" for health care reform would also cover pre-existing conditions. The promise that this basic component of health care reform would not go away under a Republican administration has always been vital to the "replace" part of the GOP's "repeal and replace" mantra against the ACA.
But here's GOP Senate frontrunner Cory Gardner, who apparently isn't so concerned with the "replace" part of "repeal and replace"–at least not where it concerns pre-existing conditions! That may have been the right answer in Gardner's 2010 primary, but the statewide electorate in 2014 is likely to find that a harsh prescription.
When we say that Gardner is not the savior in the 2014 U.S. Senate race that Republicans apparently think he is today, moments like this are why–and this video clip is unlikely to be the last. The fact is, Gardner has never had to run in a competitive race outside a beet-red Republican district, either in the legislature or in Congress. And the things Gardner said to win then hurt him now.