Friday “Bombshell”–Gardner Flips on Personhood Abortion Ban

UPDATE: In the story cited below, Cory Gardner claims that he started rethinking his support for the Personhood abortion ban "after voters rejected it by 3-to1 margin in 2010." As reported by Lynn Bartels, that appears very hard to believe, in light of the fact that Gardner signed on as a co-sponsor on July 23rd of last year to H.R. 1091: the federal Life at Conception Act. Like Colorado's Personhood abortion bans, this bill would extend "the right to life" to "every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization."

This is just another item confirming what should be glaringly obvious at this point: Gardner's Personhood problems are going to get worse, not better. His explanation for this wholesale flip-flop is plainly belied by facts like the 2013 legislation above–which makes Gardner look like a craven "say anything" politician with no personal values at all. If there's anything worse than dogmatically clinging to an unpopular position, it's being trusted by no one.

It is not hyperbole to suggest that this may be the decisive event of the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

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Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post breaks a huge story late Friday–GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner is publicly abandoning his prior explicit support for the "Personhood" abortion bans, statewide ballot measures which in 2008 and 2010 failed with over 70% of Coloradans voting against. Without a doubt, one of the biggest "Friday news dumps" in recent memory:

[Gardner] said after learning more about the measures, which have the impact of outlawing abortion, he realized that proposals also could ban certain forms of contraception, a prohibition he does not support.

"This was a bad idea driven by good intentions," he told The Denver Post. "I was not right. I can't support personhood now. I can't support personhood going forward. To do it again would be a mistake."

He did not say when he changed his mind on personhood, but said he began examining it more closely after voters rejected it by 3-to1-margin in 2010.

"The fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position," Gardner said. "I've learned to listen. I don't get everything right the first time. There are far too many politicians out there who take the wrong position and stick with it and never admit that they should do something different."

…Gardner said he stepped forward because Udall and his allies have spent the last three weeks "distorting my record." Among the "lies," he said, claiming that he opposes abortion even in the cases or rape or incest. [Pols emphasis]

In order to understand what a massive reversal this is for Gardner, you can watch the clip of a 2010 9NEWS CD-4 GOP primary debate (above), in which Gardner explains how he not only supported that year's Amendment 62, but actually circulated petitions to help the measure reach the ballot. As a state legislator in 2007, Gardner co-sponsored Senate Bill 07-143--a near clone of this year's Republican abortion ban bill, which makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Gardner's statement that it's a "lie" to say he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest is further tripped up by his co-sponsorship of 2011's H.R. 3, the "Redefining Rape" bill also sponsored by Rep. Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin of Missouri, which included the word "forcible" in the definition of rape to further prohibit federal funding of abortions. Colorado Right to Life, a major proponent of the Personhood abortion bans, says that Gardner "hasn't yet responded" to their 2014 survey, but listed him in 2010 as "supports Personhood, responded to our survey, has participated in CRTL events, and is considered 100% Pro-Life."

Cory Gardner (R) has been an outstanding pro-life legislator, and has attended a number of CRTL functions, including two Legislative luncheons/breakfasts (something most legislators don't attend). We value his dedication to these issues! [Pols emphasis] Cory has responded to our survey with 7 of 7 questions answered correctly, without any reservations or exceptions. He supported Personhood in 2008 also.

Gardner claims that his flip-flop on Personhood is the result of his "learning" since 2010 that the measure's language would have the additional consequence of banning certain forms of "abortifacient" birth control. But the truth is, that side-effect of the Personhood abortion ban has been known since it originally appeared on the Colorado ballot in 2008. It's simply not true to suggest this is new information.

flair-etch-a-sketch-classic.jpg.CROP.article250-medium

​With all of this background established, what does Cory Gardner's wholesale "Buckpedaling" of Personhood just three weeks after entering the U.S. Senate, late on a Friday afternoon, mean? There is only one possible explanation. Gardner is afraid. Despite the rhetoric from Republicans today that issues like abortion won't matter in the 2014 elections, or at least won't matter as much as other issues Republicans are trumping up focusing on like Obamacare, this move betrays a realization that Gardner's prior support for a total ban on abortion may indeed be lethal in the general election. Just as it was to Ken Buck in 2010, Bob Schaffer in 2008, and even to some extent Joe Coors in 2012.

But the pressure Gardner was under only makes this Friday news dump look worse. This is not an act of integrity, claiming false "new information" to abandon a politically scandalous position when the smallest possible audience is paying attention. This is the act of a coward. "Con Man Cory," anyone?

As we have said repeatedly in the weeks since Gardner entered the U.S. Senate race, his fresh face and friendly demeanor can't hide a truly unsavory hard-right record. Gardner's political career as a representative of beet-red safe Republican seats in the Colorado legislature and in Congress obliged him to affirm conservative litmus-test credentials on a wide range of issues, abortion being only one. Those years of safe-seat complacency are an enormous liability to Gardner now that he is running for high statewide office. And it begs the question: what will be the next flip-flop?

Because there will be more, folks. Once a politician starts down this road, the rest come easy.

GOP Abortion Ban Bill Dead, But Issue Will Be Back in 2014

prolifevsprochoice

The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic has a great recap of this week's big local political story, the abortion ban legislation co-sponsored by 19 Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly that met its demise Tuesday:

Although Republican lawmakers, including House leadership, signed on in double digits to co-sponsor humphrey’s bill, something changed in the two months since it was introduced.

None of the co-sponsors came to Tuesday’s hearing. Only four people altogether testified in favor of the bill. Yet dozens of pro-choice activists held a press conference prior to the hearing to rail against it and many of those lined up to argue against it from the witness stand…

Humphrey opposed all the amendments. He said they would change the purpose of the measure. It was a personhood bill, after all. Either a fertilized egg is a person or it isn’t. He took the defeat of his bill in stride, with what seemed like the long vision of a true believer secure in the knowledge that fighting for his convictions mattered as much as victory.

But the arguments made by the Republican lawmakers against the bill as plainly unconstitutional may complicate a politically charged effort to land another personhood initiative on this year’s ballot. Supporters of the so-called Brady Amendment have already gathered 140,000 signatures. The secretary of state only has to certify roughly 90,000 of those signatures as valid in order for the initiative to make the ballot.

The long, unsuccessful fight by Republicans to institute a total ban on abortion in the staunchly pro-choice state of Colorado has done great political damage to that party's viability, factoring heavily in numerous major electoral races from Bob Schaffer in 2008 to Ken Buck in 2010 and Joe Coors in 2012–and now Bob Beauprez in 2014. The damage done by this ideological fixation has slowly dawned on Republicans, which may have led to Secretary of State Scott Gessler making an "extra effort" to keep the Personhood abortion ban off the 2012 statewide ballot.

The growing awareness of the self-injury resulting from their campaign to ban abortion on the part of Colorado Republicans is a big reason we were honestly surprised to see another abortion ban bill introduced in the Colorado General Assembly this year. Even more surprising was the large number of co-sponsors, including House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso. Not only did Republicans "go there" again in this election year, they did so enthusiastically.

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Conservatives still want you to boycott Girl Scout Cookies – I won’t!

Conservatives are still on this weird kick of persecuting Girl Scouts by urging people to boycott one of the most innocent and industrious fund raising tools around:

Launched in 1912, the Girl Scouts of the USA started as a single pack of girls in Savannah, Georgia, meeting in the hopes of getting out of their “isolated home environments and into community service and the open air.”

Beginning in 1917, when the first cookies were sold by an Oklahoma troop in a local high school as a service project, troops now sell approximately 200 million boxes per year, resulting in around $700 million in sales.

(Wow, that's quite a number and I wonder why R's attack the Free Enterprise actions of Girl Scouts? -z)

It’s through these cookie sales that anti-abortion groups are making their voices heard. Dubbing their effort “cookie-cott,” abortion opponents have been urging allies to refuse to purchase cookies from any girl scout this year to show their opposition to what they perceive as the Girl Scouts’ increasing support of people and advocacy groups with ties, however tendentious, to abortion.

The most recent in a long line of perceived offenses, and the one that spurred the latest cookie boycott, was the organization’s alleged endorsement of Texas state senator Wendy Davis, who last June famously filibustered the state’s new law that will close most of the abortion providers in Texas. The Girl Scouts’ Twitter account tweeted a link to a Huffington Post Live segment discussing potential candidates for woman of the year for 2013. Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was mentioned as a contender, as were singer Beyonce, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and even “the brave women on social media.”

In fact, Girl Scout cookie boycotts appear to be a longstanding tradition for the religious right, albeit a mostly Sisyphean one. Just a few months earlier, in October, right-wing Colorado radio pastors Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner of Generations Radio were urging a boycott of cookies because the Girl Scouts were a “wicked organization” that “doesn’t promote godly womanhood” and in fact “is antithetical to a biblical vision for womanhood,” according to Swanson. In 2012, the Family Research Council, the Christian right advocacy group headed by Tony Perkins, urged its 455,000 followers to pray that cookie sales would lag so that the Girl Scouts would break off their alleged relationship with Planned Parenthood. “The Scouts had better confess their errors and make a clean break while they can,” read the alert, which also urged prayer for the congressional defunding of Planned Parenthood. Even as far back as a decade ago, anti-abortion organizations were boycotting their local troops to punish them for participating in events with Planned Parenthood affiliates. 

They might be too late to the game on this, because I've already bought 2 batches of cookies, 4 boxes the first time, 2 the next, with Samoas being in both orders

It's kind of obvious that they want to seem to support Boy Scouts, I guess, for their past views that homosexuals shouldn't be part of Scouting. As if…. And it's quite obvious that Cons love to pick on those least able to defend themselves, this continuing attack against Girl Scouts being Exhibit A  B  C  D  E aw heck, Z for mean spirited Republicans.

I'm going to keep buying Girl Scout cookies as long as they sell them, no matter how much my family complains "we're getting fat", and I'll enjoy the taste much more knowing it peeves off a whole set of grumpy conservatives who love picking on the poor, the elderly, and hard working children having fun and learning good citizenship while feeding the world's need for more cookies. 

Democrats Hit Gardner in Web Ad

GardnerStache

If I grow this moustache, will you forget what I said about Personhood?

Colorado Democrats have put out a web ad highlighting the highly-conservative record of Rep. Cory Gardner. You can see the ad after the jump, but first, here's FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

The one-minute video focuses on Gardner’s support for the 2010 Personhood initiative, which would have effectively banned abortion in Colorado, a House GOP budget plan that would have “ended Medicare as we know it”, and his opposition to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

Democrats also included the CBS News report showing Gardner on a 2012 fishing trip junket with oil and gas lobbyists; the caption over the video clips: “He even vacations with Washington lobbyists.”…

…Gardner, considered a rising star within the House GOP caucus, has long harbored ambitions beyond the House; but he had never noticeably tempered a conservative voting record that, while representing his sprawling, rural district, seemed outside the mainstream of the state’s overall electorate. [Pols emphasis]

We've discussed many times in this space that we think Gardner is going to have a real problem in explaining his ultra-partisan record to voters outside of CD-4. The fact that Gardner never even tried to moderate himself since winning election to Congress in 2010 is a major reason that Democrats and Republicans alike were surprised when he decided to enter the Senate race late last month.

 

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Today’s Main Event: Banning Abortion in Colorado (Yes, Really)

UPDATE 4:35PM: GOP Reps. Bob Gardner and Mark Waller, both pro-life but “reluctantly” unable to vote for an “unconstitutional” bill to ban abortion, join Democrats in voting against House Bill 14-1133. Bill dies on a final vote of 9-2.

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UPDATE #3: Hearing now underway, this Texas-style rotunda photo sent to us from the press conference prior:

20140311_132523

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UPDATE #2: The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic:

Karen Middleton, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado director, told the Independent that calling attention to this kind of legislation is important, especially given the way the local and national political landscape on the issue of women’s reproductive rights has shifted in recent years.

“Leadership in the Colorado House and Senate is always in the balance,” she said. “This is a bill that has been introduced in the past and will likely be introduced again. It could get through, maybe not this year, but next year… Voters have to take note.”

…Middleton points to the historic wave of anti-abortion bills passed in statehouses around the country in recent years that, she suggests, voters may not have supported had the consequences of the laws been more clearly spelled out in debate.

“You can see what is happening. You see what happened in Texas,” she said.

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UPDATE: From the release announcing today's opposition press conference:

A diverse coalition of Coloradans, including reproductive health organizations, doctors, and women with stories about their reproductive health experiences will be speaking out in advance of Tuesday’s hearing on HB 1133, the abortion ban bill.
 
HB14-1133, which is being sponsored by Republican leadership, would ban abortion in Colorado in almost all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest. The bill would make it a Class 3 felony for a physician to perform an abortion, which carries a 4-12 year prison sentence. This bill does not represent the needs of Colorado women and families, or the values of Colorado voters. Coloradans have rejected abortion bans at the ballot box twice, and strong majorities continue to support access to safe abortion services.
 
When & Where: 1:00 pm, Tuesday, March 11, 2014           
Rotunda, 2nd Floor, Outside Old Supreme Court Chambers
 
Who: Physicians, health care providers, Colorado women
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
COLOR – Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights (bilingual)

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Today at 1:30PM in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, debate in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee will commence on a key piece of Republican legislation, House Bill 14-1133. As we've discussed in this space already, this bill has a simple purpose:

1133bottomline

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Bob Beauprez Goes “Both Ways” On Personhood Abortion Ban

Here's a brief but important clip of video from yesterday's interview by Brandon Rittiman of 9NEWS of once-and-future GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez:

Transcript:

RITTIMAN: Have you ever supported Personhood, and do you now?

BEAUPREZ: No, I've got a 100% pro-life voting record, as you probably know. So I'm very much pro-life. But Personhood, uh, as my dear friend and my archbishop Charles Chaput, our previous archbishop here in Denver, said that's not the way to do it. I think it creates a whole 'nother set of problems that probably don't help anyone really. And probably won't save more lives. I don't think this is the right solution to, uh, a big uh, a big issue that's been with us for a long time and probably will be.

Well, the only thing we can assume is that Bob Beauprez hopes you never see his 2006 Colorado Right to Life candidate questionnaire! Because it pretty straightforwardly makes a liar of Bob Beauprez:

beauprez2006RTL

Today, Rittiman follows up with Beauprez–who would like to have it…oh, never mind. You know where this is going.

"Bob's answer was the right answer," said Dustin Olson, a strategist working for the campaign.

The Beauprez campaign asserts that "personhood" can mean different things to different people. [Pols emphasis]

"Just like the terms 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life' can encompass a spectrum of specific policy points, the term 'Personhood' in the context of Colorado's landscape actually means 3 entirely different policy proposals over just the last 6 years," Beauprez said. "I'm firmly pro-life, and my record reflects that, but some of the proposals we have seen on the ballot in Colorado over the last 6 years have been written in a way that could have far-reaching unintended consequences."

The campaign says Beauprez did sign on to HR 552, federal personhood legislation, which in a similar manner to ballot questions that have appeared in Colorado aims to confer legal protections on unborn children…

As you can see above, Beauprez answered "yes" to every one of Colorado Right to Life's litmus-test questions. According to this questionnaire, Beauprez supports a constitutional amendment protecting "preborn human beings." Beauprez opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. And most important for this discussion, Beauprez answered "yes" when asked if he would sign on to federal HR 552, the "Right to Life Act." Which reads:

The terms `human person' and `human being' include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including, but not limited to, the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

So there's absolutely no confusion, here's the text of Colorado's Amendment 48, the 2008 "Personhood" initiative that failed in Colorado by over 70%.

Section 31. Person defined. As used in Sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the terms "person" or "persons" shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization. [Pols emphasis]

Anyone who entertained the notion that Beauprez might have kicked his 2006 habits, which earned him a place in history as one of the worst candidates for governor ever, can now put that silly idea to bed. Beauprez's 2006 campaign was littered with like incidents of sloppy, disorganized flip-flopping–it's how he earned the nickname "Both Ways Bob."

By our read, he just earned it all over again.

Stephens, Hill, Buck All In For “Personhood” Abortion Ban

A particular detail from last night's GOP U.S. Senate primary debate worth revisiting, as the Durango Herald's Joe Hanel caught but apparently no other press coverage did:

Buck, Hill and Stephens all said they supported the personhood amendment on the 2012 ballot, which would have declared that human life begins at conception – a legal change that would lead to bans on abortion and many forms of birth control.

We also noted the answer to this question in our debate live blog.

To be clear, the question was actually in error from the moderators of the Denver Post, as the "Personhood" abortion ban ballot measure didn't actually make the 2012 ballot. In 2012, the "Personhood" initiative was disqualified by Secretary of State Scott Gessler for want of the necessary petition signatures. The last time this initiative appeared on the statewide Colorado ballot was in 2010 as Amendment 62, where it failed by just over 70% of the vote.

Neither the Denver Post, which hosted last night's debate, nor the Associated Press or the Colorado Springs Gazette mentioned that all three principal Republican primary candidates for the U.S. Senate all support the "Personhood" abortion ban. Given the pivotal role this issue has played in previous elections, and the controversy the "Personhood" initiative has generated within the Republican Party, that's astonishing to us. It may not hurt during the Republican primary to endorse a total ban on abortion, but in the general election, this is a massive liability. We'll say it again: Colorado has been a pro-choice state for years, with polling showing that trend growing every year. Recall that Ken Buck tried to flip-flop away from support for "Personhood" toward the end of his 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate, which he has now reversed again by re-endorsing it in 2014. Amy Stephens undercuts her claim to be more electable than Buck or Hill by endorsing this hugely unpopular initiative.

The last few elections in Colorado are littered with failed GOP candidates who ran aground at least in part over "Personhood"–either angering anti-abortion activists by not embracing it, or the rest of the electorate by doing so. Last night made it clear again that this albatross is still very much wrapped around the Republican Party's neck.

At least he’s not your legislator…or your gynecologist!

In Virginia, they got this wimmin's rights thing all figgered out!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/steve-martin-virginia_n_4847959.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

A pregnant woman is just a "host" that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views.

Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women's bodies on his Facebook wall last week in response to a critical Valentine's Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.

"I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive," Martin wrote. "However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it."

You're not even a mother anymore, ladies! Now you're just the "host." Sounds sci-fi, doesn't it?

Tax Dollars For Abortions BS: It’s Not Just Greg Brophy

Stop Whining About Overreaching

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, nailing GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy on a false statement from Tuesday night's debate:

Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy incorrectly asserted in a gubernatorial debate Tuesday that the state is violating the constitution by paying for abortions and "that needs to stop."

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not provide funding for abortions, spokesman Mark Salley said.

Asked Wednesday for proof of his claim, Brophy backpedaled.

"We'll check and verify that, and if not's true, then we don't have to do anything (to stop it)," the Wray farmer said.

Colorado voters in the 1980s banned using state money to pay for abortions. The state still must comply with federal law, which requires abortion coverage for Medicaid patients in instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at stake.

When pressed about this Tuesday, Brophy claimed that Planned Parenthood's "abortion clinic" isn't required to "account for the monies they get." But officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Planned Parenthood insist that's not the case. Bartels reports on a flap from 1999 over sublet space within Planned Parenthood's facilities, which led to then-Gov. Bill Owens' administration slapping punitive restrictions on Planned Parenthood. Owens' successor, pro-life Democrat Bill Ritter, undid those sanctions, but Planned Parenthood never applied for the additional money they then could have–because it wasn't available.

Bottom line: Bartels does a great job debunking an critical talking point for lots of pro-life Republicans. And that's what we really want to add here: the persistent and false claim that Colorado taxpayer dollars "fund abortions" is a much bigger problem than Greg Brophy. Colorado Right to Life's candidate questionnaire asserts without basis that the prohibition on public abortion funding in the Colorado constitution has "mostly been ignored." Last year, Sen. Owen Hill introduced Senate Bill 13-066, the "Taxpayer Abortion Separation Act," to "force compliance" with the state constitution's prohibition of public money for abortion. In 2011, every male Republican Colorado Senator sponsored a similar amendment to the state budget. Here's what fellow Republican Sen. Nancy Spence had to say in response to them, as reported by Patrick Malone at the Pueblo Chieftain:

“My concern about defunding Planned Parenthood is that it provides good family planning services and health services to women,” Spence said. “I agree that public funds should not be used for abortion, but if abortion is part of Planned Parenthood and you can’t separate out the funds that they use for abortion services versus family planning and women’s health services, then I have to come down on the side of Planned Parenthood. [Pols emphasis] It’s too important for low-income women in this state not to have access to that kind of information, when I think it’s an appropriate use for public money.”

It's very easy to agree with Sen. Spence, especially now that you know it was never a real issue anyway. And with that, perhaps this long-cherished but bogus talking point can finally be put to bed? Sadly, don't count on it.

Buck Looks To Bury “Buyer’s Remorse” Catastrophe

UPDATE: The conservative Daily Caller helps roll out the new female-friendly Ken Buck:

Buck promises this video is merely be the first in a series of maybe ten, or so, he will release. And although they’re too long to air on TV in their current format, “at some point in time,” he avers, “parts of these interviews will be pulled out and ads will be created to set the record straight.”

For a candidate hoping to neutralize a predictable attack, having these testimonials filmed and in the can should go a long way. “I anticipate that once again the Democrats will create the ‘war on women’ narrative,” he said, “and these women talk about who I [really] am.”

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2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

T.M. Fasano writes for the Greeley Tribune today in a story shameless puff piece notably outside their usual paywall:

[Ken] Buck, the Weld district attorney and GOP frontrunner to run against Colorado Sen. Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate race, unveiled a two-minute video titled “Ken Cares: Stephanie’s Story.” Several other videos will be released over the next several weeks and months also showing Buck’s support from women…

When Buck ran for the U.S. Senate seat against Michael Bennet, and barely lost, in 2010, he was portrayed as anti-woman, something that annoys Buck to this day. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s terrible. It’s an absolute lie. I have a daughter. I have a wife,” Buck said. “I understand that politics is unfair, but at some point there has to be some basis in truth and the fact is that I have spent 25 years of my life trying to help the most vulnerable in our community. For someone to suggest that because I’m pro-life that I don’t care about the vulnerable is not logical.”

He added, “What the Democrats have done to me and to Romney and to dozens of others is to say that because we are pro-life we don’t care about women. Nothing can be further from the truth. We have a position on one issue. Look at the whole group of issues before making a decision. What the liberals have done is they have taken one issue and have tried to create a character trait based on that issue and it just isn’t true.”

Of course, there's an obvious bottom line underlying any effort to rehabilitate the image of Weld County DA Ken Buck with women voters:

Buck’s numbers in the latest Quinnipiac University poll has him trailing Udall by only 3 percentage points (45 to 42), but among women voters he’s trailing Udall by 21 percentage points (54 to 33). [Pols emphasis]

“I’ve never met someone who is as dedicated as Ken, so it’s very surprising to me to see the polls showing such little support for him over women’s issues,” [domestic violence survivor Stephanie] Drobny said.

During Ken Buck's failed 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate, a race he unexpectedly lost principally due to a crushing lack of support from women voters, there were many incidents that hurt him–like during the primary campaign against Jane Norton, when he suggested Republicans vote for him because he does "not wear high heels." Buck also aggressively campaigned on a "no exceptions" platform of opposition to abortion, proudly volunteering that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

But the worst came for Buck when a story broke in early October of 2010 about a case of alleged sexual assault he had refused to prosecute, claiming the alleged victim had a case of "buyer's remorse"–this despite the fact that the alleged perpetrator was caught on tape admitting to the crime. The victim in turn had a recording of Buck's callous treatment of her during the investigation, which she released. Combined with a disastrous appearance on Meet the Press and already well-established anti-woman narratives about Buck from the primary campaign (see above), this event helped turn Buck's momentum toward likely victory at the end of September into a narrow loss to Sen. Michael Bennet by Election Day.

Recognizing what happened, Buck is smart to work overtime to repair the damage with women voters in 2010–the persistence of which appears to be his biggest impediment as the GOP's frontrunner for the nomination to challenge incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in 2014. The fact that women voters remember Buck well enough to favor Udall by twenty-one points means that Democrats did a very good job in 2010.

Still, Buck gets credit for recognizing this as his biggest challenge. Much like the hard-right Rep. Mike Coffman pulling a 180 on immigration, though, can Ken "Buyer's Remorse" Buck really make nice with the ladies? It's a tall order to say the least.

Photo: Owen Hill Speaks At Saturday’s Roe v. Wade Protest

Sunday's Denver Post included a story about protests that occurred Saturday marking the 41st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which established the right of American women to abortion of unwanted pregnancies. The story goes into some detail about the fact that the battle over abortion in Colorado is ramping up yet again, with a Republican-sponsored bill to ban all abortions introduced in the state legislature, and yet another flavor of the "personhood" abortion ban headed for the statewide ballot this November.

For as much useful background on abortion politics that Christopher Osher's story supplies readers, he focuses almost exclusively on the protest organized Saturday by the Catholic Church–making only the briefest of mentions of another protest, organized by Colorado Right to Life, "at the state Capitol." The problem is, that protest was certainly the event more relevant to the political backstory Osher lays out. Frustratingly, we've not been able to find any coverage of the CRTL protest, not even on the organization's own websites and social media. If anyone has links to coverage of this event, please give us them in comments or email us, and we'll update this post.

What we do know is that hard core anti-abortion group Colorado Right to Life held a protest at the state capitol on Saturday, and that the keynote speaker at this event was none other than Republican U.S. Senate candidate Owen Hill. We know that only due to this photo, sent to us from the event via a passer-by:

IMG_20140118_134013_815

With all due respect to Archbishop Samuel Aquila, shouldn't this be part of the story? Our guess is Hill is trying as hard as he can to pump up his pro-life credentials while Ken Buck and Amy Stephens flail away at each other. That said, it may honestly be that Owen Hill's so-far minor Senate candidacy just doesn't rate much coverage.

But somebody tell us what Hill had to say to that horrifying little doll, who is also nowhere to be found in news coverage.

Stephens touts her gender as asset but she shares Buck’s extreme anti-abortion stance

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In an article yesterday, The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports Rep. Amy Stephens' response to Ken Buck's comment Monday comparing pregnancy with cancer:

"It's Ken again being Ken," Stephens, who is among several Republicans vying to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, insisted Thursday. "Just like in 2010, we have high-heels comments, we have alcoholism and homosexuality, now we've got cancer and pregnancy."

Buck in 2010 was the nominee for U.S. Senate against Democrat Michael Bennet. His statement on "Meet the Press" comparing homosexuality to alcoholism was considered the turning point in a campaign he had been expected to win.

Before telling Lee about "Ken again being Ken," Stephens was on KNUS' Dan Caplis Show Wed., where she made her opinion of Buck's candidacy even more clear, saying she does not believe Colorado Republicans will unify around Buck if he wins the nomination, and saying, based on what Buck's offered so far, it would be the "definition of insanity" to run Buck again.

Stephens @10 min: I am not convinced Ken has given us an argument as to why we should go down this path again. And I call the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over with the same results….

I also believe nationally, and I have heard this in my travels, that there is not going to be — You know, when somebody wins a primary, people rally, come around. The party goes, whatever. I do not believe that's going to happen should Ken be the nominee. I do believe this would happen should I become the nominee, because I think there will be a lot more interest in this race and a lot more support. [BigMedia emphasis]

Listen to Rep. Amy Stephens tout herself as a woman and slam Buck on KNUS 1-15-14

On the radio, Stephens went on to say that she'd be better able to "take on Sen. Udall on issues that they normally love to hit our men with, and I think as a woman, I have a very strong voice to speak about."

But as Caplis should have pointed out, Stephens' anti-abortion record, including ten years on the staff of Focus on the Family, sets herself up for the same criticism Buck has faced.

(more…)

Nothing Learned: House GOP Introduces 2014′s Abortion Ban Bill

UPDATE: Karen Middleton of NARAL Pro Choice Colorado weighs in:

“It’s bad enough that this bill puts politicians and government in between Colorado women, their families, and their physicians, something Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box,” said Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “This bill could result in jailing doctors. A Class 3 felony is a minimum 4-12 year sentence.”

“This bill is  an insult to Colorado women and Colorado physicians, and out of touch with Colorado voters. Too many of our politicians still don’t get it,” Middleton concluded.

—–

A metaphor.

A metaphor.

Making even many Republican strategists cringe, while Democrats marvel at their good luck–a press release moments ago from the Colorado House Democratic Majority announces House Bill 14-1133, a bill sponsored by a large group of Republican lawmakers that very straightforwardly makes abortion a class 3 felony:

Rep. Humphrey’s bill, HB14-1133, would ban abortions in Colorado. It was  introduced today with  the cosponsorship of Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) and Reps. Perry Buck (R-Windsor), Justin Everett (R-Littleton), Chis Holbert (R-Parker), Lois Landgraf (R-Colorado Springs), Daniel Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs), Kevin Priola (R-Henderson), Lori Saine (R-Dacono), Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), Spencer Swalm (R-Centennial) and Jared Wright (R-Fruita). 

The Humphrey bill says anyone who performs an abortion in Colorado commits a Class 3 felony, making no exception in cases of rape or incest. It would ban all forms of pregnancy termination, including Plan B, the “morning-after pill.” The bill also defines life at conception and would ostensibly establish “personhood” in Colorado’s statutes…

“Been there, done that,” Rep. Court said. “Colorado is not going to deny a woman’s right to choose or allow the government to meddle in the private relationship between a woman and her doctor. And similar measures in other states have repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional. The sponsors of these bills are setting a new standard for being out of touch.” 

Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) pointed to statewide votes in 2008 and 2010 in which Coloradans decisively rejected proposed constitutional amendments to ban abortion. 

“Colorado is clearly a pro-choice state,” she said. “Rep. Humphrey and a large group of House Republicans are trying to overturn the verdict of the voters. The GOP just doesn’t get it.” 

“Colorado Republicans push extreme positions that disrespect the women of our state and trample on their freedoms,” Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) said. “And then those same Republicans wonder why they lose elections.” [Pols emphasis]

Here's the text of the abortion ban bill as introduced. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Sens. Scott Renfroe, Kevin Grantham, Ted Harvey, Kent Lambert, Kevin Lundberg, Vicki Marble, and Mark Scheffel

If you were wondering if perhaps Republicans might be thinking a little more strategically about this year's elections in light of perceived Democratic weakness, and as a result maybe considering some moderation, affected or otherwise, to maximize their chances with swing voters…well, you can stop wondering.

It appears, at long last, that they just can't help themselves.

Radio host should have questioned Buck when he compared his bout with cancer to pregnancy

(Open mouth, insert cowboy boot – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Salon picks up the story:

Fast-forward three-plus years later, and Buck’s at it again. The goal this time? Don’t say anything stupidly and overtly sexist. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Turns out, yep, that is too hard! Speaking on a talk radio show on Wednesday, Buck attempted to explain his anti-choice absolutism — he opposes abortion in all cases, including rape and incest — by likening a woman’s desire to control her own body while pregnant to how he felt when he had cancer.

—–

Apparently trying to connect to women voters, who arguably cost him a U.S. Senate seat in 2010, Ken Buck appeared on a Denver radio station Monday and discussed the differences and similarities between pregnancy and his recent bout with cancer.

Asked by 560-AM KLZ talk-show host Randy Corporon about his abortion position, Buck, who's running again for U.S. Senate this year, said:

Buck: "Yes, I am pro-life. While I understand a woman wants to be in control of her body.–it's certainly the feeling that I had when I was a cancer patient, I wanted to be in control of the decisions that were made concerning my body–there is another fundamental issue at stake. And that's the life of the unborn child. And I hold that life dear and precious and believe we have to do everything we can to protect the life of the unborn." 

So Buck is saying that his successful battle with cancer is like pregnancy insofar as they both require decisions affecting a human body. But for a cancer patient like Buck, they are personal medical decisions, and Buck was glad to be able to make them. But for a woman who is pregnant, difficult as it may be, she shouldn’t be afforded the same freedom to make decisions affecting her body.

In 2010, Buck made no secret about his strong anti-abortion position, enthusiastically repeating his opposition to all abortion, even for rape or incest. In one radio interview, he expressed his opposition to abortion, even for a girl raped by her teen brother.

Now Buck drives his anti-abortion point home in the starkest of language by saying how happy he is that the government didn’t dictate his health decisions when he had cancer. But pregnant women should have no choice.

(more…)

“Personhood” Claims Credit For Rivera Recall Win; Vows More

Personhood USA.

Personhood USA.

As the Colorado Statesman's Peter Marcus reports–you might not agree, but be aware of this spin:

Motivated by a grassroots uprising this summer that ousted two sitting Democratic state senators, proponents of a ballot initiative that would ask voters in 2014 to define an unborn child as a “person” say they are likely to target Republicans who don’t support their anti-abortion movement…

Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, said his organization and its followers feel empowered after gun rights activists and liberty groups were able to take down Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron last month with limited financing compared to recall opponents. Similar to personhood, the efforts were assembled by a grassroots base that felt overlooked by state officeholders.

Mason points out that his volunteers inserted themselves into the recall elections, where personhood once again became an issue. Political attack ads highlighted the Republican successor candidates’ support for personhood. Bernie Herpin in Colorado Springs and George Rivera in Pueblo faced the assaults.

Herpin found himself on the defensive, vowing that he did not support personhood. But Rivera unapologetically stated his support for the drive.

In response, Mason said personhood supporters sent volunteers to Pueblo to help Rivera, but ignored Herpin in Colorado Springs because he rejected the initiative.

Supporters of the "Personhood" abortion ban constitutional amendments, which appeared on the ballot in Colorado in 2008 and 2010 and only narrowly missed the ballot again in 2012, have at times been quite belligerent with their fellow Republicans who express an insufficient degree of support. The reason is simple: the issue of banning abortions can be as damaging to Republicans campaigning in a general election as it is a litmus test in a Republican primary. The best example was probably the assault on U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, who faced withering criticism for his failure to endorse the 2008 initiative–complicated by Schaffer's defense of labor practices in the Mariana Islands which allegedly included forced abortions on pregnant female workers. In 2010 and to a greater extent 2012, Personhood proponents softpedaled their criticism of Republicans who were by then in full retreat on the issue–at least publicly.

Well, folks, antithetical to the desire by most Republicans to keep themselves out of this toxic wedge-issue fray, the Personhooders evidently think the recent recalls prove they were right all along. Sen. George Rivera's victory in Pueblo, whatever the true reasons, seems to have persuaded the anti-abortion movement to double down–which means taking a public stand for or against Republican candidates based on their support.

However giddy with victory they may be, we know Republicans who will find that prospect absolutely horrifying.