New Romanoff Ad Rips Coffman on Abortion

A press release from Democratic CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff puts incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman on the hot seat over banning abortion and the Personhood ballot measures:

Romanoff's third TV ad, released today, focuses on Congressman Mike Coffman's long history of denying women the right to choose, supporting the Personhood amendment, and restricting reproductive rights. The ad features Karen, a resident of Colorado's 6th Congressional District, who emphasizes the personal nature of making these decisions and the importance of these rights.

"This is a matter of fundamental freedom.  Women should have the right to make their own health care choices," said Romanoff. "No one should have to surrender her most personal decisions to a politician, an employer, or anyone else."

"These are incredibly personal decisions that every woman must make for herself, but Congressman Coffman has pushed an agenda that takes these decisions out of our hands and puts them into his," said Denise Baron, spokeswoman for the Romanoff campaign.  "For 25 years, he's attempted to restrict our rights by voting to criminalize all abortions, outlaw common forms of birth control control, and restrict access to health care."

Last week, Congressman Coffman launched the first TV ad of his campaign, a brazen attempt to whitewash his decades-long opposition to women’s equality. The Romanoff campaign, along with state leaders, local activists, and CO-06 voters, launched a social media campaign to highlight the more than 50 votes the congressman has taken in the past four years to perpetuate gender discrimination and restrict women's rights.  Romanoff's new ad highlights Rep. Coffman's votes and actions to restrict women's reproductive rights. 

A big research dump of Coffman's anti-choice votes follows after the jump. Republicans surely aren't happy to see this ad, hitting on an issue they're as tired of as they are fearful: but there's a distinct lack of angry responses as of this writing from Coffman's campaign.

The reason may be simple: drawing further attention to this issue just makes it worse.

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Video: Cory Gardner’s Epic Abortion Pivot Fail

We've got several clips of video from yesterday's debates in Grand Junction hosted by civic engagement group Club 20 to share, but one particularly noteworthy exchange between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner last night needed to get in the record right away. In this truly remarkable clip of video, Udall hammers Gardner over his longstanding support for banning abortion, including making abortion a class 3 felony–which could result in health care providers receiving harsher prison sentences for performing abortions than persons found guilty of rape.

Gardner's attempt to pivot away from this issue, as you'll see, did not go well:

UDALL: Congressman. When it comes to a woman's reproductive rights and women's health, how can women and families trust you? You voted for a class 3 felony bill that would punish doctors more than rapists, you voted against providing emergency contraception to rape victims, you supported a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. After you told the, uh, Colorado, the Fort Collins newspaper that you would not do anything of that sort. How can families and how can women trust you when it comes to staying out of their personal health care decisions?

GARDNER: Senator Udall, I look forward to growing an economy that makes sure that women have jobs in this country, the kind of jobs that they are lacking right now. I look forward to putting economic policies together that keep women in this country from struggling to make ends meet as they are under Barack Obama's failed economy. And look, I understand, I understand that you have a concern with my position, I'm pro life, and I believe every life is precious, and I understand that you do not support that policy…

UDALL: Congressman, you didn't answer my question.

GARDNER: But what I think we ought to do is recognize that women around this country deserve a growing economy.

MODERATOR: You should answer his question.

UDALL: Would you answer my question? Would you answer my question?

GARDNER: I answered your question about…

UDALL: How can women and families trust you?

GARDNER: Because I…

(Applause grows)

UDALL: Why are you getting between women and their doctors? Why are you asking, women… (unintelligible) …why should just Washington businessmen, Washington congressmen tell women what they should do?

Sen. Udall's words at the very end of the clip are tougher to understand, mostly because the raucous applause from the audience was drowning him out–please help us correct this transcript if you find any errors. But by that time, Gardner's attempt to pivot off the issue had done more than just fallen flat. Gardner revealed himself as totally unprepared to answer questions about his record on reproductive choice. Gardner's answers up to now to straightforward questions about his record are simply not backed by the facts, and Udall would have been ready for any of them.

So the only choice Gardner has is to pivot to something else. Even when doing so is disastrous all by itself.

Gardner: “There is no federal personhood bill.”

(Once again–the federal Life at Conception Act contains the same operative language as Colorado's Personhood abortion ban. Gardner's distinction according to fact-checkers, is complete BS. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman got one-on-one interviews with both senatorial candidates last week, and the questions he chose to ask Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, should earn him the respect of conservatives and progressives.

One of Rittiman's questions for Gardner has been consistently overlooked by Denver journalists:

Rittiman: How do you square your recent change on personhood at the state level with the bill that you still are on in Congress. The life begins at conception act?

Gardner: Well, there is no federal personhood bill. They're two different pieces of legislation, two different things.

Rittman followed up by pointing out that other co-sponsors of the bill say it it is federal personhood, and asking, "But it's still a piece of legislation that says abortion ought to be illegal, no?"

Gardner: No. It says life begins at conception. Look, Sen. Mark Udall is trying to say that it's something that it's not.

Rather than letting Gardner's false statement slide, Rittiman reported:

Rittiman: At the very least, the bill is meant to set up a legal challenge to a woman's right to choose. [Factcheck.org supports Rittiman's reporting here.]

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Some details on how Gardner “built his entire political career on support of personhood”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Back in July, Cosmo's Ada Calhoun quoted Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, as saying:

Mason: "[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."

Calhoun didn't get into the details of how and why Gardner relied on personhood to advance himself in politics, so I'll hit on it briefly now, not only because it gives you insight into Gardner but, in the bigger picture, the anti-abortion movement's lock on Republican candidates as they move through caucus and primary processes in Colorado.

From the time he was elected to the State Legislature, Gardner clearly made his anti-abortion stance a priority, sponsoring state personhood legislation, in 2007, defining life as beginning at conception and outlawing abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

In 2008, Gardner stood with other Colorado legislators in support of Colorado's first personhood ballot measure, earning a shout out from Kristi Burton, the mother of our state's personhood movement,

When she helped launch the 2012 personhood measure, which didn't make the ballot, Burton praised Gardner as "very supportive" and "one of our main supporters" of personhood campaigns.

Gardner's deep support from anti-abortion activists paid off as he launched his first congressional campaign against a tough field of candidates, including Tom Lucero, the former CU regent.

At a Tea Party event in November of 2009, Gardner was asked if he'd carry legislation to end the "practice" of abortion:

Gardner: "Yes, and I have a legislative background to back it up."

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Udall Unleashes Devastating Abortion Memo On Gardner

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports–this one's going to leave a mark.

Just as GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner is looking to re-introduce himself on women’s health issues, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign is set to hammer him for legislation he supported as a state lawmaker that sought to punish abortion providers more harshly than rapists.

Udall’s campaign is focusing on legislation Gardner sponsored in 2007 as a state legislator, Senate Bill 143, which would have subjected physicians who perform abortions in every case but to save the pregnant woman’s life to class three felony charges and a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.

That’s a longer sentence than that served by the average convicted rapist in Colorado, according to a memo from Bruce Brown, the district attorney in Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, written for and soon to be distributed by Udall’s campaign…

Let's be crystal clear about what we're talking about. From Summit/Eagle DA Bruce Brown's memo:

In 2007, Rep. Gardner co-sponsored legislation in the State House (SB07-143), which would have subjected physicians to class 3 felony charges, with up to a twelve year prison sentence, for performing abortions in all cases except to save the life of the pregnant woman. To put the level of felony assigned by this legislative proposal in perspective, for physicians treating women who had been raped, the punishment assigned would be equal to that reserved for a residential arsonist and some second-degree murderers.

Most grotesquely, if Congressman Gardner’s law were enacted, a doctor providing abortion care for a victim of rape could be sentenced to a lengthier prison term than the average rapist serves. [Pols emphasis]

First of all, let's give some credit to our friend Jason Salzman, who explored this very question almost three weeks ago–and got the same answer from the American Civil Liberties Union's Mark Silverstein.

With that said, this isn't the first time Rep. Cory Gardner's sponsorship of 2007's Senate Bill 143 has come back to haunt him on the Senate campaign trail this year. In addition to Gardner's support for the Colorado Personhood ballot measures and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of, this 2007 abortion ban legislation, which made no exceptions for victims of rape of incest, is another central point in the case that–as Personhood USA's own Keith Mason said best–Gardner "built his entire political career on support of" banning abortion.

But even worse may be the response Stokols got from Gardner's campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano:

Gardner’s campaign blasted Udall, calling the attack “bogus” and “slanderous” but stopped short of pushing back against Brown’s interpretation of the 2007 bill. [Pols emphasis]

“Senator Udall is so desperate to continue his long career in politics that he is throwing out ridiculous charges that he knows are bogus,” said Gardner’s spokesman Alex Siciliano. “It’s sad that Senator Udall has nothing good to say about his own record and instead only slanders Cory Gardner. The facts don’t back Senator Udall up, again.”

…When pressed specifically to rebut Brown’s assertion that S.B. 143 would have resulted in longer sentences for abortion providers than rapists and whether that is something Gardner still supports, Siciliano did not respond further. [Pols emphasis]

Remember, Siciliano is the same Gardner spokesman who falsely claimed that there is a difference between the Colorado Personhood abortion ban measures Gardner has disavowed and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner is to this day a co-sponsor of. As Factcheck.org and experts have concluded–and the plain language of the proposals clearly shows–there is no distinction between Colorado's Personhood measures and the Life at Conception Act that would make one less likely to ban birth control than the other. And both would outlaw abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

This latest piece of the puzzle, a credible legal opinion that one of Gardner's many abortion ban proposals could have had the outlandish consequence of punishing a doctor who performs an abortion more than the rapist who made the abortion necessary, could be the most damaging attack yet. Gardner's new ad up this week, trying to whitewash his positions on birth control, smacks of desperation with this memo in view–especially while his campaign denies any of this is an issue out of the other side of their mouths. We're not in the spring any more, voters are starting to pay attention now–and if all Gardner's campaign can do is feign outrage and misdirect away from these very simple questions?

It's not going to end well, folks. Because the questions are not going away.

“Dr. Chaps” Loves Cory Gardner’s Life At Conception Act

Cory Gardner, Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Cory Gardner, Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Yesterday saw a new lengthy email missive from Republican HD-15 nominee Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, whose wild rhetoric before and after winning the Republican primary to succeed former House Minority Leader Mark Waller has been making national headlines. Klingenschmitt's recent suggestion that openly gay Rep. Jared Polis was ready to start "beheading Christians" "in America" led to calls by Democrats for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race–a call that tellingly was not picked up by Republicans like Waller or the chairman of the EL Paso County GOP.

In Klingenschmitt's latest email blast, there's no reference to Democrats beheading Christians. But while trying to watch what he says, "Dr. Chaps" still manages to leave his fellow Republicans in the hot seat:

Let's petition Congress to pass the "Life Begins at Conception Act."

Urgent Petition! Sign petition for "Life Begins at Conception" Act S.583 w/ Sen. Rand Paul. Select, sign, and WE WILL FAX your petition to all 100 Senators and 435 Congressmen instantly (saving you time!) Or select free option to Amend S.583 here.

Sen. Rand Paul's "Life Begins at Conception Act." Can it stop abortion?

The U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul (R) has introduced the "Life Begins At Conception Act" Senate Bill S. 583, which is modeled after "Personhood" legislation we supported in ballot initiatives in Mississippi, Colorado, and Florida. [Pols emphasis]

The pro-life legislation simply applies the protections of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to unborn children, by defining them as "persons." Personhood is a legal strategy that can potentially overturn Roe v. Wade and stop the abortion holocaust in America, as predicted by Justice Blackmun who wrote the 1973 ruling: "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."

S. 583, Sen. Rand Paul's Life at Conception Act, is the Senate's companion measure to H.R. 1091, the Life at Conception Act co-sponsored by…yes, that's right, U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner! As our readers know, Gardner's campaign has claimed that H.R. 1091 does not have the same effect as the Personhood abortion bans that Gardner disavowed support for right after jumping in the Senate race. Factcheck.org and experts on the issue have responded that Gardner's distinction between the Colorado Personhood initiatives and the federal Life at Conception Act is bogus–the same language conferring rights to a fetus from "the moment of fertilization" in both proposals is what would have the effect of banning all abortions even in cases of rape or incest, as well as certain forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control. Gardner has not responded anywhere that we've found to Factcheck.org's debunking of this key claim, presumably because, as we've explored at length, there is no good response.

And as you can see, "Dr. Chaps" agrees! Though we doubt Gardner will appreciate the clarification.

New Gardner Ad Keeps Contraception “Distraction” Top of Mind

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…

—–

UPDATE: ThinkProgress:

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.

Will the real Both Ways Bob please stand up?

(Skip to 4:10 in the video below for the quotes in question – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As women across the country celebrate Women's Equality Day, ProgressNow Colorado demands that Bob Beauprez tell the truth about his opposition to a woman’s right to choose–even in the case of rape and incest. Beauprez claims his hard line opposition to abortion is his "personal" view, but during his last run for governor, Beauprez clearly stated he would sign an abortion ban into law with no exception for victims of sex crimes.

"It's time for Bob Beauprez to end his war on women: a woman has the right to make her own personal, private medical decisions, including victims of rape and incest,” stated Amy Runyon-Harms, Executive Director of ProgressNow Colorado. "It's shocking that in 2014 we are still having a debate about something so basic."

In an interview broadcast this past Sunday–transcribed below–Beauprez said, "I respect that different people have different opinions than me and I respect the law of the land which is very clear and as Governor I will enforce the law of the land…for me personally the only exception is life of the mother–that's me personally."

Yet in 2006, Beauprez said he would sign a bill that outlaws abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. (Denver Post, October 20, 2006)

"Beauprez's record shows that he would let the government interfere with decisions that should be left to a woman, her family and her doctor," said Runyon-Harms. "Beauprez supported federal Personhood legislation, and said in his last run for Governor that he would sign a bill outlawing all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. Once again, Both Ways Bob is saying one thing to women, while his record demonstrates otherwise."

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Will Cory Gardner Attend Tomorrow’s Big Pro-Life Rally?

TUESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

“It’s no surprise that the biggest defenders of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who both made national headlines for their crass and demeaning comments on rape, are parachuting into Colorado to help Congressman Gardner, who wrote a bill to make abortion a felony in cases of rape,” said Udall’s campaign spokeswoman, Kristin Lynch.

“Coloradans won’t be swayed by radical groups like the Susan B. Anthony List. Voters know that Mark respects women and trusts them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”

Akin, of Missouri, and Mourdock, of Indiana, were GOP Senate candidates whose comments on rape helped doom their campaigns…

The group sponsoring the rally is Students for Life, which makes no mention of Gardner on its website. Gardner voted for the bill limiting late-term abortions.

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Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

​From the announcement for tomorrow's star-studded pro-life rally at the Colorado Capitol, put on by a coalition of anti-abortion groups including former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's Susan B. Anthony Fund:

Senate Bill 1670, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protect Act, speaks up for those who can't speak for themselves and protects the health of women when it comes to late-term abortion. And our Colorado Senators need to hear from you.

Thanks to scientific research and advancing technology we know the inhumane treatment of babies in the womb, who after 20 weeks (about five months gestation) can feel pain…

The Senate has the opportunity to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves and protect the health of women. While all abortions pose physical and psychological risks for the woman, medical risks from abortion increase markedly as pregnancy progresses, including the risk of death.

Join us on Tuesday August 26th at the State Capitol in Downtown Denver to make our voices heard!

Speakers Include:
Kristan Hawkins, SFLA
Marilyn Musgrave, SBA-List
State Senator Vicki Marble, SD-23
Michael Norton, ADF
Debra Chaves, Colorado Family Action
Lynn Grandon, Archdiocese of Denver
Sarah Zagorski, Colorado Citizens for Life
Co-sponsoring groups include FRC Action, Susan B. Anthony, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, and Americans United for Life.

A name we noticed right away was missing from this list of speakers is GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gardner reaffirmed on camera (above) that he would vote again for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act as a U.S. Senator as he already has done in the House. Like we said then, this legislation doesn't go quite as far as the no-exceptions Life at Conception Act abortion ban that Gardner remains a sponsor of in the House, but it still represents a direct challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision mandating reproductive choice rights in the United States. Between this bill and the "Personhood" abortion bans at the federal and state level that Gardner still supports and has recently flip-flopped on (respectively), it's very difficult to argue this is not an issue that Gardner and a lot of his fellow Republicans care about.

Keep this in mind next time someone tells you what Democrats call the "war on women" doesn't exist.

With all of this in mind, will Gardner make an appearance at this rally tomorrow celebrating legislation he supports? Either way, it's safe to say he'll be the 800 pound gorilla in–excuse us–on the Capitol steps.

DSCC Drops $1 Million To Hammer Gardner on Abortion

AP’s Phillip Elliot reports on the latest media buy from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $1 million on an ad hitting GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner squarely on the issue of abortion:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday ordered a two-week ad buy that hammers Republican congressman Cory Gardner. The narrator in the 30-second ad says Gardner backed three amendments that would have banned all abortions.

Gardner supported changes to Colorado’s state constitution that would have banned stem cell research, some birth control and abortion. Gardner has since changed his position on the so-called personhood measure, and says now he opposes it.

From the DSCC’s release:

“If Congressman Cory Gardner had his way, Colorado women would be denied critical decisions about their personal health,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Congressman Gardner’s record of backing measures to take women’s health care decisions away is simply too extreme for Colorado. Until Election Day, the DSCC will continue to highlight how Congressman Gardner is completely wrong for Colorado women, seniors, and middle class families.”

What’s particularly interesting to us about this latest TV spot is the lack of any mention of birth control–focusing strictly on Gardner’s support for banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. Much of the advertising up to this point has tried to invoke the added consequence of banning birth control as a result of the Personhood abortion bans, and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of. Gardner has vigorously pushed back against the assertion that he wanted to ban even so-called “abortifacient” birth control as Personhood proponents did–going as far as voicing support for over-the-counter birth control as a means of deflecting the charge that he supports legislation that could ban it.

By avoiding the issue of birth control entirely and focusing solely on Gardner’s support for total abortion bans even in cases of rape or incest, the DSCC takes away Gardner’s ability to deflect. Regardless of whether or not you believe Gardner wanted to ban birth control when he supported legislation that could have that effect, there’s no question that Gardner has repeatedly sponsored and voted for legislation to ban all abortions without exception. To be honest, anecdotal conversations we’ve had with low-information voters suggest to us that the claim Gardner supported legislation to ban birth control, intentionally or not, is much harder to swallow than the argument that Gardner supports banning all abortions even in cases of rape or incest.

Given the public’s skepticism of election-season claims these days, it may indeed be better to stick to an argument that Gardner can’t, as local Republican consultant Katy Atkinson crassly admitted was the plan, “muddy up.”

Because we don’t think Gardner can say much about this one.

Gardner Goes Full “Con Man Cory” In Aspen Times Interview

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner sat down with Aspen Times reporter Rick Carroll this week, and was subjected to a lively battery of questions ranging from his views on abortion and contraception to local control over oil and gas drilling. Gardner’s answers are in some ways tellingly evasive if you know the facts, while others could come back to haunt him in very straightforward ways between now and Election Day. Here are some excerpts, make sure you click through to read the whole thing.

On birth control:

AT: During this campaign you have said you favor over-the-counter birth-control pills. Is it fair to say you have changed your mind and how do you explain that?

Gardner: Sen. Udall’s lying and because Sen. Udall can’t run on the economy, on energy, he can’t run on health care, he’s got to run away from those issues. He’s running a very negative and deceptive campaign full of untruths…the fact is I support contraception available over the counter without prescription.

AT: Without prescription?

Gardner: Yes, and that’s the key part and we need to fix Obamacare to allow that to happen… [Pols emphasis]

On abortion:

AT: Do you believe that women have their own right to make their own choices about health care, specifically abortion?

Gardner: I am pro-life and I have voted for measures that have exceptions. [Pols emphasis] I think Sen. Udall wants to divide the state of Colorado and not focus on issues of the economy or health care or energy. In fact, I would say this: When it comes to health care, Sen. Udall has said that people shouldn’t be making their own health-care choices. He cast one of his votes on Obamacare, a bill passed that took 335,000 Coloradans off the insurance they were promised they could keep…

On immigration:

AT: Earlier this month you broke rank with the Republicans by voting against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. But in 2013 you voted in favor of a bill that would have ended it. Can you explain your change of heart?

Gardner: Those were two different pieces of legislation at different times… [Pols emphasis]

On oil and gas drilling and climate change:

AT: Do you support Udall’s legislation to protect the Thompson Divide area from drilling?

Gardner: I know the legislation that Sen. (Michael) Bennet has introduced and Congressman (Scott) Tipton has obviously been working on this issue. … Federal legislation that affects a local issue, those discussions ought to be led by local stakeholders… [Pols emphasis]

AT: Do you believe in climate change?

Gardner: Well, I have said that the climate is changing. I’ve said that before but I’m very concerned that the revenues for it would destroy our economy, like Sen. Udall’s idea to place a carbon tax, driving up the cost on low-income earners, on people with fixed income and they would destroy our economy.

A remarkable interview for the sweeping ground it covers–and the sweeping reinventions Gardner is trying to make from his former staunchly conservative self on display. But beyond that, there’s an audacity to Gardner’s deceptive answers that’s really quite extraordinary. When Gardner says he has voted for abortion ban “measures that have exceptions,” meaning exceptions for victims of rape or incest, he avoids saying that he has also voted and even sponsored abortion bans that do not contain any such exceptions. Gardner’s talk of “fixing” Obamacare is plainly meant to deflect from Gardner’s dozens of unpopular votes to repeal Obamacare. Gardner’s answer on immigration, for its part, is laughably weak, and won’t mollify critics in the least.

But the real shocker in this interview could be Gardner’s lip service to local control over oil and gas drilling. After weeks raking opponent Mark Udall over the coals, demanding Udall publicly come out against ballot initiatives for local control of oil and gas drilling that Gardner falsely characterized as an “energy ban,” what is anybody supposed to make of Gardner saying now that local stakeholders should “lead discussions?”

Even with no knowledge of Gardner’s record and the issues that have been animating this race so far, the responses in this interview raise questions–it’s obvious he’s not telling the whole story, and that he’s responding to allegations the reader can’t fully appreciate without more context. Those who take that next step to get that context will discover pretty easily just how deceptive Gardner was in this interview.

And it’s difficult to see how that ends well for Gardner.

Colorado Pro-Life Group Announces Endorsements

Via LifeNews.com:

Colorado Citizens for Life, the statewide pro-life group that represents more than 37,000 pro-life families across the state, is announcing today its endorsement of Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO 3rd District), Ken Buck (R-CO 4th District), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO 5th District), and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO 6th District).

Rep. Scott Tipton has voted pro-life on 13 out of 13 votes, Rep. Doug Lamborn has voted pro-life on 27 out of 27 votes, and Rep. Mike Coffman has voted pro-life on 20 out of 20 votes.

All of these Congressman have a 100% pro-life voting record. These votes include voting for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; the repeal of the Obamacare law which contains provisions authorizing federal subsides for abortion; and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would close certain loopholes that give tax-preferred status to abortion. They also voted to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood and against the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, which would effectively prevent older people from being allowed to spend their own money, if they choose, to save their own lives through access to unrationed prescription drugs under Medicare.

This is certainly a mixed-bag endorsement for candidates such as Rep. Mike Coffman (CD-6), who have been trying hard to deflect criticism that they do not represent the interests of a majority of Colorado women.

Factcheck.org: Gardner’s Personhood Distinction Is BS

As the debate has continued over GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner's abandonment of the Colorado "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives, the can of worms he opened attempted to put this issue to bed before election season has become increasingly evident. Instead of ending questions about his longstanding support for Personhood, which in addition to banning all abortion even in case of rape or incest could also outlaw certain forms of "abortifacient" birth control, Gardner's disavowal of the Colorado Personhood measure has led to a damaging and protracted look at the underlying details of the issue in the press.

In particular, Gardner's continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which contains the same essential language as the state Personhood measure granting a fetus rights "from the moment of fertilization," has opened Gardner to accusations of outright deception. If he still supports the federal equivalent of Personhood, plainly his claims to have "rethought" the matter are fictional–an attempt to, as Republican strategist Katy Aktinson cynically admitted, "muddy [the issue] up enough to take it away" from opponent Mark Udall. The much more straightforward reason, as Democrats alleged from the beginning, is that Gardner realized his support for Personhood is a fatal liability in his statewide U.S. Senate race.

In response to ongoing questions about this, Gardner campaign has told the press that there is a difference between the federal Life at Conception Act and the Colorado Personhood ballot measures:

"The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges," [Gardner spokesman Alex] Siciliano said.

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

You'll recall that we and others immediately questioned this statement–the language in the federal Life at Conception Act and Colorado's Personhood intiatives that could outlaw so-called "abortifacient" birth control are in fact functionally identical, and there is nothing in the Life at Conception Act Gardner remains a sponsor of that prevents it from having the same effect. News stories at first accepted Team Gardner's statement at face value, but slowly we began to see in the reporting that journalists were aware of the discrepancy.

Yesterday, the Annenberg Public Policy Center's Factcheck.org settled the question: Team Gardner is full of bull.

Gardner announced his change of position eight months after he had signed on as a co-sponsor to the federal “Life at Conception Act,” which would extend “equal protection for the right to life” under the 14th amendment to the “preborn” from the “moment of fertilization.” That language — giving the rights of a person to the fertilized egg — is exactly what raises the question of what such a measure would mean for some forms of birth control. Yet Gardner’s campaign told us he was not withdrawing his support for the federal legislation. Spokesman Alex Siciliano told us by email: “The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws.”

We don’t see how the Colorado initiative and the federal bill, which supporters in Congress describe as a “personhood” measure, are different on this point. [Pols emphasis] And neither does one of the groups supporting the state initiative. Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for the Yes on Amendment 67 Campaign, which supports the ballot measure, told Colorado public radio station KUNC: “Obviously [Gardner's] a victim of some bad political advice, there’s no reason for him to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment. It doesn’t make any sense.”

We agree. And we didn’t receive any further explanation from the Gardner campaign on the contradiction. We asked Nash at the Guttmacher Institute if there was something in the federal bill that would preclude the concerns over birth control, but Nash agreed that the “moment of fertilization” language was the reason these types of proposals had the potential to prohibit access to hormonal forms of birth control. [Pols emphasis]

In other words, exactly what we said all along.

It's not like this is a hard conclusion to reach: both Personhood and the Life and Conception Act are extremely short–a sentence or two at most in all their various iterations. Honestly, we have no idea what the Gardner campaign was thinking throwing out this nonexistent distinction. It was really easy to see that it's false. The elementary critical thinking required to see that Colorado's Personhood ballot measures are a threat to "abortifacient" birth control is no more difficult in the case of the Life at Conception Act.

Hopefully, this puts an end to the maddening up-to-now acceptance without question of Gardner's bogus defense we've seen from reporters either too busy or too lazy to rebut a plainly false statement. There's nothing unfair about checking to make sure the assertion you are reprinting is factually correct–or at least factually defensible. This bogus claim, very important to Gardner's credibility on a key issue, is neither.

Cory Gardner To Pro-Lifers: Thanks For Nothing, Morans!

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

Yesterday, the anti-abortion National Right to Life PAC endorsed Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner, citing Gardner's longstanding opposition to "unrestricted abortion." From their press release:

Sen. Udall’s own radical abortion position is far out of the mainstream. Mark Udall supports a policy of abortion on demand, which allows abortion for any reason. He voted to keep the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure legal (10/02/03, Roll Call No. 530). He opposed measures that would protect the rights of parents to be involved in their minor daughter’s abortion decision. Udall has also voted several times in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions.

Rep. Gardner opposes unrestricted abortion. He voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – ground breaking legislation to protect unborn children at 20 weeks, a point by which the unborn child is capable of feeling great pain when being killed by dismemberment or other late abortion methods (6/18/13, Roll Call No. 251). Gardner also voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would establish a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer funding of abortions (1/28/14, Roll Call No. 30)…

Cory Gardner stands in opposition to Obamacare – a law that created a national program of massive federal subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion, and imposes rationing of lifesaving medical care – and he voted to repeal this destructive health care law. Sen. Udall voted for the pro-abortion, pro-rationing Obamacare law. Cory Gardner is needed in the U.S. Senate to help reverse the abortion-expanding and rationing effects of that law.

“Colorado mothers and their unborn children deserve better than Mark Udall’s extreme abortion policies,” Tobias added. “They deserve a senator who will stand up and give them a voice in the U.S. Senate. They deserve Cory Gardner.”

Interestingly, this release makes no mention at all of Gardner's strongest current pro-life position: his continuing sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which includes similar language protecting embryos "from the moment of fertilization" that Colorado's Personhood abortion ban initiatives contained. This is the language that could, in addition to banning all abortion even in cases of rape or incest, ban certain "abortifacient" forms of birth control. Given the problems Gardner is having reconciling his abandonment of Colorado's Personhood intiatives with his ongoing sponsorship of federal Personhood legislation, it's probably best that National Right to Life PAC keeps quiet about it.

This endorsement may be helpful for Gardner for shoring up his right flank, but it works at cross purposes to Gardner's larger objective of burying abortion as an issue to use against him well ahead of election season. Even among friends, Gardner doesn't want to talk about this, because any accommodation to one side of this polarized debate alienates him from the other–even more so since his recent flip-flops on the issue have been away from his base and record. He needed the right's support to get where he is, but what he needs most of all today is for them to shut up and let him run to the middle. That they're not doing so, giving Democrats new angles to revisit the issue, is an ominous development for Gardner.

So, that's one problem with this endorsement.  Here's another.

corytetons

get-a-brain-morans

This is the social media graphic National Right to Life is sharing to announce their endorsement. See the mountain in the background shot? That's Mount Moran of the Grand Teton Range in Wyoming. We've been there. It's pretty. But unfortunately, it's not in Colorado.

In our experience, using non-Colorado mountains in Colorado political advertising is the kiss of death. Perhaps not quite the disaster that the Colorado Republican Party's awkward dance with Personhood has been, but definitely not good. Be assured, locals don't appreciate it. It comes across as ignorant and patronizing, the product of outsiders to whom all "flyover state" mountains look the same.

Bottom line: to summarize National Right to Life's efforts on behalf of Cory Gardner, see title.

Video: Gardner Recommits To Abortion Ban Legislation

A video clip of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner shot about a week ago by a "tracker" with the national liberal organization American Bridge captures Gardner once again forced to address the subject of abortion–an issue that, although great for Gardner to flog during his long career running for office in safe Republican seats, is today a major liability in his statewide race. This encounter is from Gardner's recent "jobs and economy" tour on the Western Slope, as transcribed below–staying on message seems to be a bit of a problem.

VOTER: I wanted to say thank you, I had to look up the name of this bill, because I can never remember. But about a year ago, the U.S. House voted on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. And you voted for that. Um, I thought that was a wonderful bill, the media paid it very little attention, and I thought it was a very reasonable approach to a complicated and controversial problem. And you'd vote for it again as a Senator, would you not? [Pols emphasis]

GARDNER: Yes. [Pols emphasis] Thank you.

VOTER: Well, and I think you need to let people know that you did that. Because there are, I don't know, in this day and age, (inaudible) it might be a better approach than the Personhood thing.

GARDNER: Good to see you. Thank you.

VOTER: Thank you.

It's not quite a reaffirmation of Gardner's support for the Life at Conception Act, the "Personhood" federal legislation Gardner is a co-sponsor of that would have the same impact on so-called "abortifacient" birth control as the state-level Personhood amendments Gardner has disavowed. But make no mistake: the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, an arbitrary ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, would still directly challenge the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Roe v. Wade upheld abortion rights for a longer period based on the standard of fetal viability outside the womb. Pro-choice advocates note that most abortions performed this late address severe medical problems either with the mother or the fetus.

All of this helps explain why Gardner didn't appear at all eager to be discussing this issue in front of a tracker. Gardner's answer will please the anti-abortion groups who are rushing to shield him from criticism over his abandonment of Colorado's Personhood amendment. But for Gardner's larger objective of escaping the danger the issue of abortion represents to his campaign for the U.S. Senate, it's the last thing he needs.

And this won't be the last time he has to answer these uncomfortable questions.