A video clip of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner shot about a week ago by a "tracker" with the national liberal organization American Bridge captures Gardner once again forced to address the subject of abortion–an issue that, although great for Gardner to flog during his long career running for office in safe Republican seats, is today a major liability in his statewide race. This encounter is from Gardner's recent "jobs and economy" tour on the Western Slope, as transcribed below–staying on message seems to be a bit of a problem.
VOTER: I wanted to say thank you, I had to look up the name of this bill, because I can never remember. But about a year ago, the U.S. House voted on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. And you voted for that. Um, I thought that was a wonderful bill, the media paid it very little attention, and I thought it was a very reasonable approach to a complicated and controversial problem. And you'd vote for it again as a Senator, would you not? [Pols emphasis]
GARDNER: Yes. [Pols emphasis] Thank you.
VOTER: Well, and I think you need to let people know that you did that. Because there are, I don't know, in this day and age, (inaudible) it might be a better approach than the Personhood thing.
GARDNER: Good to see you. Thank you.
VOTER: Thank you.
It's not quite a reaffirmation of Gardner's support for the Life at Conception Act, the "Personhood" federal legislation Gardner is a co-sponsor of that would have the same impact on so-called "abortifacient" birth control as the state-level Personhood amendments Gardner has disavowed. But make no mistake: the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, an arbitrary ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, would still directly challenge the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Roe v. Wade upheld abortion rights for a longer period based on the standard of fetal viability outside the womb. Pro-choice advocates note that most abortions performed this late address severe medical problems either with the mother or the fetus.
All of this helps explain why Gardner didn't appear at all eager to be discussing this issue in front of a tracker. Gardner's answer will please the anti-abortion groups who are rushing to shield him from criticism over his abandonment of Colorado's Personhood amendment. But for Gardner's larger objective of escaping the danger the issue of abortion represents to his campaign for the U.S. Senate, it's the last thing he needs.
And this won't be the last time he has to answer these uncomfortable questions.