Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner sat down with Aspen Times reporter Rick Carroll this week, and was subjected to a lively battery of questions ranging from his views on abortion and contraception to local control over oil and gas drilling. Gardner’s answers are in some ways tellingly evasive if you know the facts, while others could come back to haunt him in very straightforward ways between now and Election Day. Here are some excerpts, make sure you click through to read the whole thing.
On birth control:
AT: During this campaign you have said you favor over-the-counter birth-control pills. Is it fair to say you have changed your mind and how do you explain that?
Gardner: Sen. Udall’s lying and because Sen. Udall can’t run on the economy, on energy, he can’t run on health care, he’s got to run away from those issues. He’s running a very negative and deceptive campaign full of untruths…the fact is I support contraception available over the counter without prescription.
AT: Without prescription?
Gardner: Yes, and that’s the key part and we need to fix Obamacare to allow that to happen… [Pols emphasis]
AT: Do you believe that women have their own right to make their own choices about health care, specifically abortion?
Gardner: I am pro-life and I have voted for measures that have exceptions. [Pols emphasis] I think Sen. Udall wants to divide the state of Colorado and not focus on issues of the economy or health care or energy. In fact, I would say this: When it comes to health care, Sen. Udall has said that people shouldn’t be making their own health-care choices. He cast one of his votes on Obamacare, a bill passed that took 335,000 Coloradans off the insurance they were promised they could keep…
AT: Earlier this month you broke rank with the Republicans by voting against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. But in 2013 you voted in favor of a bill that would have ended it. Can you explain your change of heart?
Gardner: Those were two different pieces of legislation at different times… [Pols emphasis]
On oil and gas drilling and climate change:
AT: Do you support Udall’s legislation to protect the Thompson Divide area from drilling?
Gardner: I know the legislation that Sen. (Michael) Bennet has introduced and Congressman (Scott) Tipton has obviously been working on this issue. … Federal legislation that affects a local issue, those discussions ought to be led by local stakeholders… [Pols emphasis]
AT: Do you believe in climate change?
Gardner: Well, I have said that the climate is changing. I’ve said that before but I’m very concerned that the revenues for it would destroy our economy, like Sen. Udall’s idea to place a carbon tax, driving up the cost on low-income earners, on people with fixed income and they would destroy our economy.
A remarkable interview for the sweeping ground it covers–and the sweeping reinventions Gardner is trying to make from his former staunchly conservative self on display. But beyond that, there’s an audacity to Gardner’s deceptive answers that’s really quite extraordinary. When Gardner says he has voted for abortion ban “measures that have exceptions,” meaning exceptions for victims of rape or incest, he avoids saying that he has also voted and even sponsored abortion bans that do not contain any such exceptions. Gardner’s talk of “fixing” Obamacare is plainly meant to deflect from Gardner’s dozens of unpopular votes to repeal Obamacare. Gardner’s answer on immigration, for its part, is laughably weak, and won’t mollify critics in the least.
But the real shocker in this interview could be Gardner’s lip service to local control over oil and gas drilling. After weeks raking opponent Mark Udall over the coals, demanding Udall publicly come out against ballot initiatives for local control of oil and gas drilling that Gardner falsely characterized as an “energy ban,” what is anybody supposed to make of Gardner saying now that local stakeholders should “lead discussions?”
Even with no knowledge of Gardner’s record and the issues that have been animating this race so far, the responses in this interview raise questions–it’s obvious he’s not telling the whole story, and that he’s responding to allegations the reader can’t fully appreciate without more context. Those who take that next step to get that context will discover pretty easily just how deceptive Gardner was in this interview.
And it’s difficult to see how that ends well for Gardner.