UPDATE #2: FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:
While Gardner disavowed Colorado’s personhood initiative earlier this year, he remains a sponsor of the federal version of the same policy, the Life Begins at Conception Act, which would ban common forms of birth control and abortion. [Pols emphasis]
“Congressman Gardner will do anything to hide his backwards agenda from Colorado women,” said Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch. “The undeniable fact is Gardner continues to push radical, anti-woman measures that would ban common forms of birth control. One 30-second ad doesn’t make up for that.”
The Udall campaign Tuesday also pointed to an amendment to the state budget Gardner sponsored as a state lawmaker in 2006 that sought to prohibit the state Medicaid program from purchasing Plan B emergency contraception.
“Spending taxpayer dollars on a non-physician oversight use of Plan B pills is something we must consider,” Gardner said during the floor debate on the amendment, which failed…
Udall has pointed out that while over-the-counter birth control is a good idea to expand access, it must still be covered by insurance. Some experts say the new Republican push to move it over the counter is an attempt to undercut Obamacare’s contraception coverage guarantee.
Gardner first announced his support for over-the-counter access in a Denver Post op-ed in June, in an apparent attempt to set himself apart from “too many Republicans [who] are afraid to break the mold.” In a similar vein, his campaign released an ad Monday in which Gardner, a climate change denier, uses a wind farm as a backdrop to express his support for alternative energy sources.
But Gardner’s extreme right-wing record has been hard to shake. He’s had to disavow his former support to the Colorado “personhood” measures that would have banned abortion and some forms of contraception. As a member of Congress, he voted against measures to require insurance companies to cover birth control and to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception. He’s also stood against a bill to help poor women on Medicaid to get birth control…
The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports on GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner’s latest TV spot:
Congressman Cory Gardner has borrowed a page from Sen. Mark Udall by unveiling an ad aimed at women — in this case, the availability of birth control.
“What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you,” Gardner says in the spot, as various women nod their heads.
“Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you — and that’s a big difference.”
Although abortion and birth control is an issue that Gardner’s campaign has routinely dismissed as a “distraction,” devoting a TV spot entirely to it proves otherwise. There’s little question at this point that heavy Democratic attacks on Gardner’s position on reproductive choice has severely damaged his chances of unseating Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. It should be noted again that Gardner invited choice as a central issue in this campaign when he dumped the Personhood abortion bans soon after entering the Senate race, claiming he “didn’t know” they could also have banned common forms of so-called “abortifacient” birth control. Gardner’s acknowledgement of that potential consequence has in turn led to controversy over his continuing sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act–legislation that experts and fact-checkers alike say would have the same consequences as the state Personhood abortion ban Gardner has disavowed.
What’s the way out of this conundrum for Gardner? Like Republican strategist Katy Atkinson said–“muddy it up enough to take it away from Udall.” Gardner is hoping a combination of misdirection, faux surrogate outrage, and media complaisance will carry him through November.
As for this ad, it either means Gardner is upping the “muddy up” ante, or it isn’t working. Or both.