Sorry, Rep. Klingenschmitt, You’re Out of Order

Via the AP's Kristen Wyatt, Colorado's most-discussed freshman state legislator Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt ran smack into the merciless buzzsaw that is Robert's Rules of Order this morning:

Here's video of Rep. Klingenschmitt's abortive (pun intended) moment of silence for "57 million American citizens lost since Roe v. Wade":

​All things being equal, this could have been worse for the rookie GOP lawmaker, but he wisely chose not to press any objection. You see, the general announcements period in the morning is not for these kinds of political grandstand-y statements. It's for, well, general announcements. It's okay to take time on the House floor to make a more political statement of this kind, in what's known as a "moment of personal privilege"–but you have to have the permission of the Speaker of the House to do that, and Rep. Klingenschmitt did not.

It's a little humiliating, but certainly nothing to have a hunger strike over. Also not evidence of Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst's demon possession, unless it's true, as we've heard, that demons are sticklers for parliamentary procedure. In which case…

Just kidding, "Dr. Chaps."

Gumming Abortion To Death, Part III: Game Over

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Huffington Post's Laura Bassett:

Emboldened by a new Senate majority, Republicans in Congress introduced five abortion restrictions in the first three days of the new legislative session that would severely limit women's access to the procedure.

Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Monday reintroduced a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which the GOP-controlled House already passed once in 2013. And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced four bills on Wednesday that would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning funds, require all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, ban abortions performed on the basis of gender, and allow hospitals, doctors and nurses to refuse to provide or participate in abortion care for women, even in cases of emergency…

While the 20-week abortion ban never received a vote in the Senate after passing the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has promised anti-abortion activists that he will bring the bill to the floor. It would ban abortions two to four weeks earlier than the fetus would be viable outside the womb, violating the precedent set by the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. (In that case, the court ruled that women have a constitutional right to legal abortion up until the fetus would be viable outside the womb.)

Last August, now-Sen. Cory Gardner recommitted to voting for the 20-week abortion ban, as he did in June of 2013 the last time he was given the opportunity as a member of the House. We haven't seen a position from Gardner on these new abortion restriction bills introduced by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, but none of them seem out of line with his "support for life"–even after abandoning the Colorado statewide Personhood abortion ban measures he had previously supported. And before any of you accuse Vitter of hypocrisy, keep in mind that he always used protection with the D.C. Madam's prostitutes.

We digress.

The long battle over Gardner's slippery record on abortion in 2014, an issue that Gardner freely embraced the extreme right of until he became a candidate for statewide office, was lost by Democrats–it's a story we've recounted since the election several times. Gardner's ability to "gum to death" his major and ongoing contradictions on abortion, eventually turning his opponents' relentless focus on the issue into a positive for his campaign, was a remarkable feat of political subterfuge–one of the greatest we have seen in our decade of covering Colorado politics.

Gardner's triumph over his own record on the issue of abortion is perhaps best demonstrated by the Denver Post's endorsement, in which they declared flat-out, in denial of all evidence to the contrary, that "Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights." Not all newspaper endorsements matter, and arguably their importance has been in decline for years. But in this case, the "liberal" Denver Post's wholesale dismissal of this central plank in the case against Gardner's election had an outsize effect: perhaps even decisive after being celebrated in pro-Gardner ads from that moment until Election Day.

It's important to know all of this in order to understand why so many Democrats haven't "gotten over" the Post's endorsement of Cory Gardner. It wasn't just that the so-called "liberal" Denver newspaper endorsed the Republican candidate. It was the fact that their stated rationale for doing so was based on something Gardner's opponents knew was not true. And now, Gardner's going to prove it wasn't true. With votes.

With his own actions, Gardner is about to further erode the trust of voters in the information they get from the media to make electoral choices. In the long run, that's a very bad thing for the Post–but it hurts the rest of us, too. It's what makes people cynical about politics.

Maybe you shouldn't "get over" that.

Abortion Ban Bill Introduced In Colorado Legislature (Again)

For God and country.

For God and country.

The Colorado Springs Gazette's Ryan Maye Handy:

A slew of proposed bills from both the House and Senate target some of Colorado's hot-button issues, including one House bill that seeks to make performing abortions a felony…

Longtime Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, along with Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, and newly elected Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, put their names on House Bill 1041, the anti-abortion bill.

…The abortion bill is an echo of past attempts to get personhood laws on the books in Colorado. The most recent attempt, a law that would have classified killing unborn child[ren] as murder, was rejected by voters in the November 2014 election.

A total of ten Colorado Republican legislators in the House and Senate have signed on as cosponsors of House Bill 14-1041. Democrats have assigned the bill to the House Judiciary Committee to die, avoiding the negative optics that sometimes come with sending a bill to the usual "kill committee" of State Affairs. It's not like the bill's fate is any less certain.

What this lost-cause piece of legislation will do, of course, is provide Democrats with exactly what they need to validate their contention that Republicans are the true "social issue warriors"–the label Republican Cory Gardner pinned successfully on Mark Udall as a foil to Udall's nonstop attacks on Gardner over abortion. The media and chattering class turned against "Mark Uterus," but when Gardner votes for a 20-week abortion ban in the Republican controlled U.S. Senate this year, what will they say then?

Because when local Republicans told voters last year that Colorado womens' "right to an abortion is not in jeopardy," they were flat-out lying. This latest abortion ban bill just continues a trend:

During the 2014 state legislative session, lawmakers introduced 335 provisions aimed at restricting access to abortion. By the end of the year, 15 states had enacted 26 new abortion restrictions. Including these new provisions, states have adopted 231 new abortion restrictions since the 2010 midterm elections swept abortion opponents into power in state capitals across the country.

The risk inherent here is that voters, honest reporters, etc. will begin to understand that the "war on women" simply goes on hiatus at election time. This bizarre cycle of abortion being written off by the pundits as a nonissue in October, only to roar back to life the following January, can't go on forever.

Can it?

Top 10 Stories of 2014: Colorado’s Two-Headed Electorate (#10)

How many fingers am I holding up?

Today we kick off our annual list of the "Top 10 Stories of the Year" in Colorado politics. We start, appropriately, with #10: Colorado's Two-Headed Electorate.

—-

The 2014 Election was unlike the 2012 Election in Colorado.

You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to have come to that conclusion, but the 2014 Election did indeed confirm a suspicion that arose following the results of 2012: There are two distinct electorates in Colorado.

In 2010 and 2014, Colorado experienced similar results to states around the country as part of a Republican “wave” election (though you can argue that 2014 wasn’t really a wave year, but that’s another subject for another time). In fact, Colorado post-election 2014 looks incredibly similar if not for the collapse of Republican Ken Buck’s Senate campaign in the closing weeks of 2010. This might be understandable as a trend if we ignored Presidential election years, but there’s no question that Democrats were stronger at the polls in 2008 and 2012.

It is not a groundbreaking theory to suggest that Colorado has two different electorates that vary from Presidential to mid-term election years, but in 2014 we saw the extension of a very distinct pattern in Colorado that dates back to President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Perhaps this pattern will break in 2016 with a different group of Presidential candidates, or perhaps this is a new modern reality in American politics. Everything we’ve seen suggests the latter. Here's why:

(more…)

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama's program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama's  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren't exactly identical, but they're close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can't find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated PressDurango HeraldFox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner's self-serving statement saying, in part, that "we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system."

It's possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn't report this. If so, they should have.

But it's not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you're a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what's done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM's new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his "campaign talk" about making birth control pills available over the counter "can translate into legislative action."

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindal first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I'd have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner's plan on immigration. If he's against deferring deportations, then what's he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I'm hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

Gumming Abortion To Death, Part II: Joke’s On You, Ladies

Abortion-Rights

One of the central issues of the 2014 elections in Colorado was the battle over abortion policy–both at the federal and state levels, where GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner outlasted months of withering attacks on the issue, and voters again rejected a "Personhood" abortion ban ballot measure. Colorado has a long history of support for women's reproductive rights, and the lopsided margins by which Personhood has been defeated here in recent years have made the issue toxic for Republican politicians who used to proudly campaign on their support for banning abortion.

In 2014, however, Republicans successfully blunted the issue of abortion in Colorado–more than that, they managed to turn the debate back on Democrats, successfully countering that liberal "social issue warriors" were wrongly obsessing about a non-issue. Conservative go-to foil on women's issues Laura Carno wrote an op-ed suggesting that the entire question of abortion rights in this year's elections was overblown–declaring flat-out, despite the many avowedly pro-life GOP candidates on the ballot, that Colorado womens' "right to an abortion is not in jeopardy." In the Denver Post's endorsement of Cory Gardner, they claim with no supporting evidence whatsoever that "Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights." Next month, one of the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate's top priorities is a 20-week abortion ban.

In 2006, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez promised to sign an abortion ban in Colorado that would make no exceptions even for cases of rape or incest, and was happy to explain in detail exactly why he thought that was the right thing to do. This year, Beauprez's message on abortion was a complete about-face: "I respect people's opinion, women's right to that choice."

Because Beauprez was defeated, and Democrats retained at least partial control of the state legislature, the question of what Republicans in full control would do on abortion isn't going to be tested here. But what's going on elsewhere, in the wake of the GOP's huge gains in state legislatures across America? As Politico's Paige Cunningham reports, all that stuff you heard before the election about abortion rights not being in jeopardy–it's simply not true.

The big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it’s the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor’s mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion…

Abortion rights advocates have had setbacks in the states for several years, with a surge of legislative activity since 2011. [Pols emphasis] Women seeking abortions may face mandatory waiting periods or ultrasound requirements. Clinics may face stricter building codes or hospital admitting privilege rules they can’t satisfy. Dozens of clinics have shut down in multiple states. Texas, for instance, has fewer than 10 abortion clinics now. A year ago, it had 40.

Republicans now hold two-thirds of the state legislative bodies, after winning control of 11 more chambers. They completely control the legislature in more than half the states, adding Nevada, New Hampshire and West Virginia to that list earlier this month. And they gained two more governor’s seats, so they will hold 31 next year.

Steady Democratic control of Colorado in recent years means we haven't seen the same kinds of proposed restrictions on abortion that have passed in many other states, and the ones that have been introduced have been defeated with enough fanfare to render them political liabilities for Republicans. Despite this, 2014 marked the greatest challenge to Democratic control by Republicans since Democrats took the legislature in 2004–and before the ballots were fully counted, Republicans had a few glorious moments when control of the Colorado House, Senate, and Governor's Mansion were all at least hypothetically in reach.

Today, even with Republicans only in narrow control of the Colorado Senate after last month's elections, a program credited with reducing teen pregnancy by 40% is already in jeopardy. Without more power, there's not much that Republicans in Colorado can do legislatively to further restrict abortion and contraception access–but now that the election is over, it's time to recognize that the downplaying of abortion by the GOP and accommodating local media was enormously deceptive. The truth is, restrictions on reproductive choice are passing across the nation–and if Republicans had taken control of this state as they did so many others in the last two midterm elections, restrictions on abortion rights could well become law in Colorado too.

In that event, a lot of local pundits and media types would owe you an apology.

For If It Prosper, None Dare Call It a “War on Women”

waronwomen

AP via the Denver Post, a familiar 2015 Colorado legislative battleground already taking shape:

Democrats who credit a drop in teen pregnancy to expanding access to long-acting birth control such as intrauterine devices have to persuade Republicans to use state money for contraceptives…

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has provided low-income women access to birth control like IUDs and hormone implants for free or low cost at 68 clinics in the state. But state officials say $5 million is needed to continue the program.

The problem, of course, is that Democrats no longer have full control of the Colorado General Assembly. And that means the decision of whether to continue a program credited with reducing the rate of teen pregnancy in Colorado by 40%, in addition to reducing the number of abortions, is at least partly in the hands of Assistant Senate Majority Leader-elect Kevin Lundberg.

"We are talking about the most critical issue of protecting life or abortion," said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican from Berthoud who will chair the Health and Human Services Committee. Lundberg said he doesn't oppose the use of condoms or pills. But he said IUDs are "abortifacients," meaning they cause abortions.

"That is not medically correct," countered Dr. Larry Wolk, the state's chief medical officer and the director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

The thing is, we already know it's not medically correct, we just dealt with the incorrect assertion that interuterine devices (IUDs) are "abortifacients" when failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said as much during a debate against Gov. John Hickenlooper this year. Beauprez was drilled by reproductive health experts for claiming IUDs are "aborifacient" after Hickenlooper cited this same program a successful policy. Other Republican candidates, like U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner desperately trying to convince undecided voters that the whole idea of banning birth control is "crazy," watched in horror as Beauprez at least morally validated the idea of doing just that.

Perhaps the biggest triumph of the 2014 elections in Colorado for Republicans was successfully "gumming to death" the issue of reproductive choice, which had cost them dearly in previous years as Colorado's electorate rejected abortion bans over and over. Led by Cory Gardner's deliberate campaign to "muddy up" the issue enough to blunt Democratic attacks, the GOP's insistence that the "war on women" is fake eventually suckered enough pundits, reporters, and editorial boards to sway conventional wisdom–at least through November 4th.

But as we'll all learn again next month, the "war on women" simply takes a break during election years.

Re-run: Ken Buck jumps back on personhood horse!

(Remember, the "war on women" is a myth! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

The GOP's newbie House members elected U.S. Representative (forthcoming) Ken Buck as their president Thursday.

If you follow Buck's history here in Colorado, you know his squeaker victory over establishment-backed Republican Jane Norton in the 2010 Republican primary was powered by a coalition of fiscal and social conservatives on the far right side of the party's base.

Buck's victory formula involved trotting off to Tea-Party shebangs and bragging not only getting rid of the 17th Amendment but also about his exuberant opposition to abortion even for rape.

And, of course, he went whole hog for Colorado's personhood amendments, until he didn't.

You might not think Buck would dive into the personhood rabbit hole again, given how badly it went for him last time, with the embarrassing flip flipping and all. I mean, for Christ sake! But no. He's on personhood again!

Last month, as he was apparently looking ahead to taking a Republican leadership role in Congress, Buck endorsed the infamous Life at Conception Act, which aims to ban abortion by giving zygotes (fertilized eggs) legal protection as persons under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

(more…)

Unpacking “Abortion”: What White Men Don’t Get

Or, “Why Mark Udall and Amendment 67 Both Lost in 2014″

I was sitting in my living room a number of months ago, when a Udall commercial came on television and our wonderful Colorado senior U.S. Senator confidently and clearly articulated the word, “abortion”. “He’s going to lose”, I told my husband, “Mark’s going to lose”.

White men don’t get it — especially the kind of 30 year old, private school-educated, pea-coat-wearing frat boys who run market research firms and conduct polls and fly back and forth between DC and Denver — the kind who show up in every federal election, advising Senate and Congressional candidate campaigns on behalf of the DCCC or the DSCC. Out of touch and clueless about middle-aged or retired suburban women, or people of color of all ages in CO, they brought down Joe Miklosi’s congressional campaign in 2012, and they just brought down one of the best U.S. Senators we’ve ever had, Mark Udall. Udall’s team should have questioned their advice and trusted local grassroots, boots-on-the-ground opinions instead. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

Although the “frat boys” (as I like to call them) are confident in the answers they receive in their polls and surveys, they ask all the wrong questions. Any federal level candidates in CO who continue to run campaigns without having every important CO demographic represented on their strategy teams will lose in the future (are you listening, Senator Bennet?). If they want to understand suburban, middle class mothers or college-aged people of color, or seniors on fixed incomes, they better have them on their steering committees in similar proportions.

The abortion issue is a perfect example. Research shows the vast majority of women want abortion to be legal and safe (this is not a Democratic secret, folks). For some people (including young men), the battle cry “My body, my choice” resonates with an underlying libertarian “don’t tell me what to do” chord. For many women I have spoken with about this issue, either as a women’s leader, or as a former crisis center counselor, or as an activist/organizer who has knocked on thousands of CO doors over many years, abortion is not a black and white, intellectual issue – it is a personal, very private decision which is frequently not discussed in polite company. For some women, it is a painfully emotional subject associated with layers of spiritual, family and financial baggage. For many women, terminating a pregnancy is a tug-of-war with their heart, and certainly not a subject they are comfortable having bantered about ad nauseum on their living room televisions by a bunch of men who have no proverbial clue what it is like to be a woman. For many women, the entire conversation is off-limits, and the frankness of the political ads makes them feel very, very uncomfortable.

Not only are many women uncomfortable hearing abortion debated while they’re helping their eight year old with homework or collapsing into a chair after a long day at work, their motives to have had an abortion are not always what men assume them to be. For a lot of women, abortion is not about “my life” or “my body” or “my choice”. For many women I’ve talked to, choosing to end a pregnancy is motivated by selfless concern and love for the potential life they are considering bringing into the world. Women are motivated to have abortions for the same reasons they are motivated about organics, GMOs, fracking, education, climate change, gun restrictions and punishing pedophiles –- because they love children and want every child to be wanted, so they can have healthy, happy lives. For many women, termination is a decision made early in a pregnancy long before there is significant fetal growth or sensation, to protect a child from a life without adequate resources (parenting, food, clothing, health care, etc.) or because of quality of life issues related to fetal anomalies and genetic disorders. For many women, abortion is an emotionally painful but completely selfless decision, made with the best interests of another potential human being in mind – not something every frat boy understands easily.

If there is one thing women will fiercely protect more than their own bodies, or their own choices, or their own civil rights, its children — even other people’s children. Mike Coffman’s brilliant marketing team (let’s face it – he doesn’t get re-elected every two years because he is a good congressman) understood this well in 2012 when they watched Joe Miklosi take a stand for Choice, and then they socked him with an ad that associated Joe with pedophiles because he voted no on the straw-man “Jessica’s law”. I’ll never forget the women I spoke with at the doors while canvassing for Joe who said, “I can’t decide if I want to vote for the guy who hates women, or the one who hates children”. In the end, they voted against the man they were tricked into thinking “hated children” by Coffman’s brilliant, yet evil henchmen.

Amendment 67 failed because women want to keep politicians out of their doctor’s offices. Senator Udall lost his race because women want to keep politician’s talking about abortion out of their living rooms. If Senator Bennet wants to win re-election in 2016, he needs to listen to CO middle-class moms directly and include them on his steering committees — and skip any advice from frat boys about messaging — unless it is about messaging to other frat boys.

Personhood leader’s Halloween costume shows how Gardner stabbed him in the back

(Ouch! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here's my favorite Halloween costume. I only wish I'd actually seen it.

We all know senatorial candidate Cory Gardner stabbed the personhood movement in the back, but who would think Keith Mason, the co-founder of Personhood USA, would illustrate the point so brilliantly by inserting a Cory-Gardner monographed knife in his own back?

I offered to buy Mason a beer if he'd send me a photo of his costume. Then I realized he'd probably want harder stuff, so I said I'd buy him shots in exchange for the pic. No response yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he sent me the photo.

Mason hasn't held back expressing his feelings about Gardner, telling Cosmo a few months ago, for example, that “[Cory Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood. I think he’s just listening to some bad advice, and he’s playing politics.”

Or, put another way, Gardner stabbed Mason and his hard-working personhood colleagues in the back, after they stood with Gardner throughout his political career.

A Few Words About “Mark Uterus”

Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

The issue of reproductive choice has undeniably played a large role in the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Colorado. The heavy focus on abortion this year has a couple of origins: first and foremost, the successful prosecution of the issue in 2010 against stridently anti-abortion Republican candidate Ken Buck. Like Cory Gardner, Buck was a longtime supporter of the Personhood abortion ban, and this was used effectively against Buck to run up the score for Democrat Michael Bennet with women voters. In the end, Bennet's 17-point margin with women was the decisive factor in the 2010 Senate race, overcoming public polling that only once out of a dozen or more showed Bennet with a lead in the month of October.

The second reason abortion has loomed large in 2014 is that Republican Cory Gardner made it an issue by affirmatively disavowing the Colorado Personhood amendments just a few weeks after entering the Senate race. Gardner himself focused the race on his decision to disavow Personhood, and all the consequences that spun out of that decision: the contradiction with Gardner's continued support for equivalent federal legislation that would ban abortion and common forms of birth control, and dismay from anti-abortion activists on the right who openly disagree with Gardner's decision and stated reasons for it.

Focusing on Gardner's no-exceptions opposition to abortion has had the desired effect for Democrats of alienating Gardner from women voters, and Gardner's attempts to put the issue to bed early in the campaign failed dramatically as his federal Life at Conception Act became the story. In response, Gardner and Republican surrogates have decried Democrat Mark Udall as a "social issue warrior," and the standard response to this issue became feigned exasperation over the Udall campaign's "obsession" with the issue of abortion. At the Denver Post's U.S. Senate debate early this month, reporter Lynn Bartels invoked the now-famous nickname "Mark Uterus" in a question about his campaign's focus on the issue.

Of course, Bartels didn't come up with that nickname. According to a story published just before that debate, the credit for "Mark Uterus" goes to outgoing state Rep. Amy Stephens. Stephens exited the Senate race early this year to make way for Gardner. But what you might not know, because Bartels never mentioned it, is that Stephens is a former public policy specialist for the nationally known evangelical Christian organization Focus on the Family. Stephens also wrote Focus on the Family's abstinence-only sex ed curriculum, No Apologies.

Take a moment and let that sink in, folks. One of the foremost "social issue warriors" in Colorado is responsible for the meme now being used to paint Mark Udall…as a "social issue warrior." If "Mark Uterus" didn't currently have thousands of Google hits, and mentions from the Denver Post to the Washington Post, we'd be inclined to let this go. But like it or not, "Mark Uterus" has seen a great deal of play. And it has its origins with someone who, if the full facts were understood, most voters would laugh at for going there.

All we can say is, the extreme hypocrisy on display here says a lot about this race.

Hilarious New NARAL Ads Slam Gardner

A press release from NARAL Pro-Choice America announces a $450,000 ad buy for the above ad targeting young voters–attacking Republican Cory Gardner on issues he's been hit with before, except a lot funnier:

“Cory Gardner tries to deceive Colorado voters on his opposition to birth control and his belief that politicians have a right to interfere in our personal, private medical decisions,” said Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “These ads highlight how Cory Gardner is on the wrong side of Colorado values and voters, especially young voters.”

“Having access to birth control and being able to decide if, when and how to start a family is not just a women’s issue,” said Erika West, Political Director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “It is an issue that affects men and women. Even though he’s been called out repeatedly by fact checkers, Cory Gardner keeps trying to hide his real record as an anti-birth control extremist. And we’re going to remind all voters of that every day between now and Election Day.”

You're right, the ad is funnier than the press release. That's to be expected.

The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe:

The television and Web ads close with a shot of a couple in bed looking frustrated after they realize they've run out of the prophylactic.

And the radio ad features a conversation between a couple after the man has returned empty-handed from a condom run that took him to every store in the neighborhood…

The attack is based in Gardner's previous support for a state measure that would've given legal rights to a fertilized human egg and in effect banned some forms of contraception. Gardner has since disavowed his support for the measure, but he remains a co-sponsor of a federal version of the bill.

We really like this campaign, and that's no small statement: six days from the election it's tough to like any political ad. That said, why must everything with a fresh format, breaking out of the jaded attack ad formula that voters are sick to death of seeing over and over, be "targeted at young people?" Last time we checked, voters of all ages are tired of the usual political ads. Maybe they could use an intro other than "guys guys guys," but livening up the format of campaign ads beyond a spec that seemingly hasn't changed since the early 1990s could make them more interesting to all demographics.

For all the millions shoveled into political ads, you'd think it would happen more. Why not entertain a little?

People might not hate them as much.

Hulu rejects anti-personhood ad featuring rape victim

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

One of the Vote No 67 Campaign advertisements has been rejected by Hulu, the online streaming video service.

“According to our advertising bylaws, we are not able to accept ‘ads that advocate a controversial political or other public position,” wrote a Hulu ad representative to the Vote No on 67 Campaign.

“I was on my daily run when I was attacked, and beaten and raped,” says “Amanda” in the rejected ad. “What I’ve been through is one of the many reasons I oppose Amendment 67. When I was at the hospital, I was offered emergency contraception. Amendment 67 could ban abortion and emergency contraception, even in cases of rape or incest. Of course, we all want to protect pregnant women, but Amendment 67 isn’t the way.”

Trouble is, this ad is factual, and Hulu has been running spots on numerous other political issues.

I contacted Hulu seeking an explanation for why this ad is unacceptable and will update this post when I hear back.

Amendment 67 is the “personhood” amendment on this year’s election ballot.

Investigating Miscarriages? It’s Baked In The Personhood Cake

Tim Neville.

Tim Neville.

9NEWS' Steve Staeger has an interesting story up about a mailer hitting SD-16 Republican Senate candidate Tim Neville on his longstanding (and as far as we know, ongoing) support for the Colorado Personhood abortion ban amendments. As has emerged as a major controversy in Colorado's U.S. Senate race this year, the language in the Personhood measures conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" could have a broad range of consequences, including outlawing common forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control.

And as the mailer in question from Mainstream Colorado explains to SD-16 voters, Personhood could do something else, too:

The mailer, sent to women in the 16th State Senate District, claims Tim Neville supports a plan that could allow the government to investigate women who have suffered a miscarriage.

"Why would anyone in their right mind try to do something like that," Neville responded to the ad…

"We know that Tim Neville has supported personhood measures in the past," said Cathy Alderman, VP of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

Alderman says personhood measures can lead to investigations into miscarriages by police or district attorneys.

"If a woman were to lose that pregnancy or choose to terminate that pregnancy that is then determined to be the death of a person, and so any actions she takes in regards to that pregnancy could be investigated as a potential felony or a manslaughter claim," she said. [Pols emphasis]

Alderman admits the bill does not specifically allow investigations into miscarriages, as the ad seems to claim…

That's technically true. As we've noted repeatedly, the Personhood abortion ban amendments that Colorado voters have rejected over and over are very short–one or two sentences defining unborn as persons with rights from "the moment of fertilization." But as experts, fact checkers, and even the proponents of the Personhood measures agree, those words would have very broad effects: outlawing all abortions including in cases of rape or incest, and even outlawing birth control that would have the effect of "killing" a fertilized egg.

It is precisely those "penumbral" conseqeunces of Personhood that led Cory Gardner to publicly abandon support for the measures soon after entering the U.S. Senate race. The exact interpretation of the law if passed would be hashed out by the courts and enabling legislation, but it's the very same language granting rights from "the moment of fertilization" that creates the potential for a ban on "abortifacient" birth control–and yes, even criminal investigations of miscarriages.

In Wednesday's U.S. Senate debate, moderator Kyle Clark coolly informed Gardner that "we will not debate" the effects of his federal Life at Conception Act–Gardner's federal Personhood bill with the same "moment of fertilization" language that opens the door to the measure's worst hypothetical effects. Meaning that for the purposes of that debate, Clark was not interested in hearing diversionary arguments that conflict with the plain and very simple language of the bill.

Well, folks, if it's true for Cory Gardner, it's true for Tim Neville too.

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark Shreds Gardner on Federal Personhood Bill

UPDATE #2: Talking Points Memo:

Colorado GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner has been confronted before by journalists when he has tried to deny that a federal bill he sponsors is in effect a personhood bill, which could significantly limit abortion access.

But at a debate Wednesday night, moderator Kyle Clark of KUSA in Denver put Gardner's dodges in perhaps the starkest terms yet, adding fuel to the fire Sen. Mark Udall has been trying throughout his campaign to fan with women voters…

"What I'm asking you about here is what appears to be the willing suspension of the facts," Clark said. "People who agree with you on the issue of life think you're wrong about how you're describing the bill. Everybody seems to have a cohesive idea of what this is with the exception of you, and I'm just wondering: What should voters glean from that fact?"

MSNBC's Steve Benen:

I can appreciate why some, especially on the right and at the Denver Post’s editorial page, may find this focus excessive. There’s no shortage of important issues in the 2014 elections, and investing considerable time and energy on one part of the GOP congressman’s work as a legislator may seem unnecessary. At first blush, it’s not an unreasonable point.
 
But that’s what made Kyle Clark’s questioning so worthwhile: this isn’t just about personhood. Cory Gardner championed radical legislation to remove women’s access to abortion and forms of contraception. Then he lied about it. Then he lied about it some more. Asked to explain himself, the Republican won’t apologize for his often shameless dishonesty, and can’t coherently justify why his claims so plainly contradict reality.
 
In other words, this may just be one issue among many, but it’s offering the public a chance to learn who Cory Gardner really is, what he does, and why kind of politician he’d be if elected to the Senate. As Clark’s line of questioning suggests, the challenge for Colorado voters is asking what else the congressman isn’t telling the truth about. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: Jason Salzman on the same subject: "the revolt by journalists against Gardner continues."

—–

We've got a few posts to get up about last night's final U.S. Senate race debate between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner–which, if you haven't watched it, was easily the best-run debate of any we've seen this year. 9NEWS political reporters Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman brilliantly challenged both candidates on the issues they've had the most trouble with on the campaign trail.

As we'll demonstrate in several examples, this had the effect of damaging Cory Gardner vastly more than his opponent. When the questions turned to Gardner's continued support for the federal Life at Conception Act abortion ban–and Gardner's blanket denial of its intended effect even as the experts, fact-checkers, and the bill's primary sponsors say otherwise–what followed was an absolutely devastating clip of video.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reported on the exchange between Clark and Gardner:

Gardner has been repeatedly been asked on the campaign trail about his sponsorship of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which, as Clark pointed out, nearly everyone but Gardner agrees would outlaw abortion.

"We are not going to debate that here tonight because it's fact," Clark said. "It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you're wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you're not telling us the truth.

"Which is it?" [Pols emphasis]

Gardner said the bill is "simply a statement that I support life."

"The personhood bill, congressman, is a bill. It's not a statement," Udall countered. "If it became law, it would ban all abortions and it would ban most common forms of contraceptives. Coloradans deserve the truth from you. You have to really give a straight answer."

The problem for Gardner as he attempts to talk his way out of the situation he himself created, by publicly disavowing the state Personhood abortion bans while remaining a sponsor of the functionally equivalent Life at Conception Act, becomes less about the issue of abortion each time he tries. Every attempt by Gardner to extract himself from the hard questions about his actions on this issue makes him look more untrustworthy.

Clark and Rittiman didn't spare Udall the hard questions either, asking Udall to justify his campaign's focus on abortion and birth control. Udall responded ably to this question that these issues are important to women–and citing the Denver Post's recent endorsement of Gardner that crassly attempted to dismiss the issue, he said that "if the Denver Post doesn't want to stand by Colorado women, that's their business."

Bottom line: FOX 31's Eli Stokols' now nationally-famous interview with Gardner, wherein Gardner repeated the words "there is no federal Personhood bill" over and over while Stokols confronted him with facts that clearly prove otherwise, laid bare Gardner's deception for anyone who saw it. Since then Gardner has been hit with the same questions in two debates, at the Denver Post and then last night at 9NEWS–and amazingly to us, he still doesn't have a better answer. When we say this is surprising, we genuinely mean it. Even if Gardner's revised answers were no less bogus, it would still go better for him than mindlessly repeating something that no one believes anymore.

And that is the key point Democrats must drive home right now: it's about trust, not just about abortion.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the outcome of this race depends on it.