WSJ: Gardner Pinned By “Personhood”

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

An excellent story from the Wall Street Journal's Beth Reinhard today explains in depth to a national audience the ongoing problem faced by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner we've been talking about for months–his halfway flip-flop away from longstanding prior support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives that have failed repeatedly on the Colorado statewide ballot. In addition, Gardner faces growing questions about his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which contains matching language from the Personhood abortion bans that would also outlaw common forms of birth control. Today's WSJ story is behind a paywall, so here's a teaser–go subscribe, or find a friend with a subscription to read the whole thing:

Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Colorado, is trying to move away from the thorny issue of "personhood."

His problem is that neither his foes on the left nor some friends on the right will let him.

Shortly after entering the race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in February, Mr. Gardner disavowed his past support for the idea at the heart of the personhood movement, which is to give a fertilized egg the same rights as a person, thereby outlawing abortion and some forms of birth control. In backing away, he even called for the sale of birth control over the counter…

"Cory Gardner is a big disappointment, since he was firmly on our side, and now he's throwing that away for greater political aspirations," said Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, the lead sponsor of the ballot question. [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Gardner has said he changed his mind because Colorado voters twice rejected constitutional amendments on the issue, in 2008 and 2010. He also said he hadn't realized that access to birth control could have been affected. Mr. Gardner is listed as a co-sponsor of a House bill that says life begins at conception.

As we discussed last Wednesday, Gardner's continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, while claiming to have disavowed Colorado's Personhood abortion bans, creates a major conflict. Both the Personhood abortion ban amendments and the Life at Conception Act contain the same language about human life beginning "at the moment of fertilization." This language is what would have the consequence, either intended or not, of outlawing so-called "abortifacient" forms of birth control. Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews asked Gardner's campaign about this apparent contradiction, and was told by Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano that the federal abortion ban bill would make "no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges."

But that's not true. It's the same language. At some point, this false distinction is going to burn Gardner's campaign yet again.

In the meantime, as the WSJ makes clear, Gardner still has a big problem. Even the most GOP-friendly polling in this race shows that this issue has already given Gardner's opponent Sen. Mark Udall a commanding lead with women voters. On the other side, the pro-life right wing is equally upset with Gardner's "pandering" to the left by backing off of what was previously a no-compromise stand against abortion under any circumstances.

Bottom line: there's a very simple reason why Gardner and his campaign affects exasperation with having to answer questions about banning abortion over and over, wondering aloud why reporters can't come up with "something else to talk about."

Like Ken Buck before him, this could be the issue that sinks Cory Gardner.

23 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Gardner does not appear to be the candidate that is sinking.  That would be Udall.

    http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2014/senate-model/history.html

    Udall has blown his lead and now trails Gardner.

  2. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Forgot to post his picture for ya.

  3. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    But the link you give, A.C.,  actually rates the Udall/Gardner race as a tossup.

    As a traditional conservative, I find some things that I really like about Gardner. The problem for him, in my eyes, is the same problem that continues to bedevil Republicans; the injection of a religious litmus test into Republican politics. You can't say, with credibility, with one hand that you support entitlement reform, cutting spending, balancing budgets, focusing on jobs and the economy. And claim to be a conservative.

    But with the other hand, you attempt to impose religious ideology on society as a whole (anti-abortion, anti-contraception, get gays back in the closet, funnel tax dollars to sectarian religious schools (vouchers), etc.). A real conservative will support individual rights, freedom of conscience, and real religious liberty. Gardner is not there yet, and may never get there.

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      CHB, The poll defines toss-up as neither party has a greater than 65% chance of winning.  The poll show Gardner has a 53% chance and that Udall was previously ahead.  We both know it is early and anything can happen.

      If you are a traditional conservative, there are things about Udall that are troubling, like Obamacare, picking losers in energy, etc.  Personally, Udall and Obama's view of the role of the federal government trumps any disagreements I have on social issues.

      • DavieDavie says:

        Speaking of Republicans picking losers, when are the oil companies going to write a $1 trillion check to reimburse taxpayers for the Iraq wars?

        And another trillion or two to compensate all the families that lost members (both military and civilian bystanders)?  

        I don't even know how large a check they should write to cover the health and environmental damage they have, and continue to cause.

        Tell me again why Republicans are so enthralled with the "Merchants of Death"?

      • Republican 36 says:

        The Issue is Gardner's Lack of Credibility

        Now even the Wall Street Journal is publishing articles about Mr. Gardner and his two faced stance on the Personhood Amendment but his problem isn't with social issues, regulatory, tax or defense issues. Its far more fundamental and trumps any issue or his particular stand on an issue. Mr. Gardner has sacrified his credibility and once that's gone, a candidate is in a no win situation.

        Just look at his record. During the 2010 general election campaign, two weeks before he was interviewed by the editorial board of the Ft. Collins Coloradan, Mr. Gardner told a Tea Party gatheirng that he would do everything he could to end a woman's right to choose. At the editorial board interview, when asked whether he would sponsor support anti-choice legislation as a member of congress, he said no. But there was a small problem with his answer. Bob Moore, then the editor of the Colorodan, had attended the Teas Party gathering where Mr. Gardner promised the Tea Party he would sponsor such legislation. When Mr. Moore reminded Mr. Gardner about his statement to the Tea Party, only two weeks before, Mr. Gardner said he couldn't recall the Tea Party meeting.

        And, once elected, what did Mr. Gardner do. In 2011, two weeks after he was sworn in as a member of Congress he began sponsoring and voting for anti-choice legislation. And, we all know what's been going on for the past four months with Mr. Gardner trying to wiggle out from his decade or more support of the Personhood Amendment while simultaneously continuing to co-sponsor the federal Personhood Amendment. 

        Mr. Gardner is in trouble because he can't be trusted. His credibility is shot full of holes. My suspicion is he has sand in his shoes. 

        Its too late now, but he would have served himself far better by simply stating that yes he supports the Personhood Amendment but that he understands the voters of Colorado don't and therefore he will not pursue the issue if elected to the United States Senate. Instead, he is now in position where no one, not the Democrats or the Republicans, not conservatives, moderates or liberals can trust him because he never means what he says.

      • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

        "picking losers in energy"?  What a tool.  When you start acknowledging the true costs of 'your' energy like this, this, this and this – those of us with more than two firing neurons will stop laughing.  Their energy policy?  Privatize the profits, socialize the costs. 

      • BlueCat says:

        AC. You forgot to say "lying about Obamacare". They might take away your spin decoder ring for that.

  4. FrankUnderwood says:

    Nice photo of Gardner.  He looks perplexed and stymied by the egg amendment.

  5. DawnPatrol says:

    Can't wait to retire this amoral, unethical grifter permanently from public life come November, along with Every Which Way But True Teabaggy Bob and the comical Coffman Clan.

  6. JBJK16 says:

    When he says but, but this isn't top of mind, all I hear is the Beach Boys singing but that's not what he's running on

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