UPDATE: The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic:
Gardner is unlikely to come out ahead in the web war. His performance in his ad is stilted expository. He says he “changed his mind on personhood” but he hasn’t. He backed a slew of anti-abortion bills over the last decade and as an officeholder and he supported personhood ballot initiatives in the state two-election seasons in a row. More to the point, he still says he is adamantly anti-abortion and he is a current co-sponsor of the main personhood bill on the docket on the Hill, the “Life at Conception Act.” Gardner’s ad has the “I didn’t do it” feel of a man who has been caught and put against a wall and asked a question point blank.
The series of ads on Gardner and personhood — or women’s health more generally — poses a question: What’s to stop Udall from doing this to Gardner repeatedly on a host of issues? What’s next, immigration-policy reform? Gay rights? The prospect raises another question: What’s to stop all Democratic candidates in the state running in swing districts or for statewide offices from “Gardnering” their opponents this way on the same set of issues, where majorities of voters solidly embrace Democratic positions?
A press release this afternoon announces Planned Parenthood's new ad, attacking Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner for his sort-of-but-not-really reversal on the "Personhood" abortion bans–and noting that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of virtually identical federal legislation:
In the ad, which will run online across Colorado, the narrator reads: “Meet Congressman Gardner’s new favorite key,” as the camera scans a keyboard and settles on “delete.” The narrator continues, “Congressman Gardner is trying to erase part of his record,” highlighting his support for the Life at Conception Act. The narrator ends with “Congressman Gardner still wants to take medical decisions away from you, and your doctor.”
“Colorado voters won’t be fooled by Cory Gardner’s cynical attempts to whitewash his dangerous record on women’s health issues. When he went to Washington, Gardner continued his long-standing support for extreme measures that would interfere with a woman’s personal medical decisions — including the ‘Life at Conception Act,’ a nationwide so-called ‘personhood’ measure,” said Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado Vice President of Public Affairs, Cathy Alderman.
“One thing remains clear: Cory Gardner can’t be trusted. That’s why we’ll be working around the clock to make sure Colorado women and families know the high stakes for women’s health and rights this November. We know that Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations are a trusted source of information and that women listen to us when we speak out to them about issues that affect their health and rights. We know what it takes to win, and we’re in it for the long run,” said Planned Parenthood Votes Executive Vice President, Dawn Laguens.
Gardner's continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which contains the key similar language from the Personhood abortion bans about rights conferred "at the moment of fertilization," is one of the biggest reasons it is so baffling to see Gardner publicly defending his flip-flop on the Colorado Personhood measures. For Gardner to remove himself as a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, a recorded action is needed–and without that, his flip on the state Personhood measure can be easily portrayed as thinly veiled deception.
There's nothing Gardner can do to honorably extricate himself. There are no principles on display here, only political calculation. Taking his name off the federal Personhood legislation at this point, after struggling with this self-inflicted wound for months, will only underscore what everyone knows: Gardner cares about saving his political skin, and basically nothing else.