Gardner Was Affirming Personhood Belief Just Days Before Flip-Flopping

Former Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was famously attacked in 2004 for his own admission that he voted against the War in Iraq before he voted in support of the conflict. Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, now running for the U.S. Senate, may have just upped the ante on flip-flopping; it's sounding like Gardner was against Personhood while he supported it.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels writes in "The Spot" today about Sen. Mark Udall's campaign hitting hard on Rep. Cory Gardner's Personhood flip-flop:

Sen. ’s campaign is up with a brutal online ad on Congressman , looking at his comments and his actions on and .

The message from the ad, which features ominous music: “His beliefs haven’t changed. Just his ambitions.”…

…Gardner’s views have been national news ever since The Denver Post revealed last Friday that Gardner had switched his position on personhood, saying it was wrong to have supported the ballot measures because he now agrees with critics that they outlawed some forms of birth control. Gardner said he still opposes abortion.

In Bartels' post at "The Spot," she mentions receiving a copy of an email sent from Gardner's office to a CD-4 constituent just a few days before Gardner flip-flopped on Personhood. The email is important because it contradicts Gardner's original claim to Bartels last Friday that he began re-thinking his position on Personhood after it was pummeled in the polls in 2010. According to Gardner's official email, that's not true. At all. Take a look:

From: "Representative Cory Gardner" <CO04CGIMA@mail.house.gov>
Subject: Responding to your message
Date: March 17, 2014 at 1:02:20 PM MDT
To: <lbouche@>

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Dear Mrs. Hauser,

 Thank you for contacting me regarding the Women's Health Protection Act.  I appreciate you taking the time to write.  It is an honor to serve you in Congress and I hope you will continue to write with your thoughts and ideas on moving our country forward.  

 On November 13, 2013, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced H.R. 3471, the Women's Health Protection Act of 2013. This legislation works to eliminate regulations and laws which restrict women's access to abortions. It has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

 Throughout my life, I have been committed to the protection of life beginning at conception. [Pols emphasis] I am also a strong supporter of women's rightsOn February 28, 2013, for example, I voted in favor of the Senate proposal to reauthorize funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant programs to help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of abuse. I was also a co-sponsor of the H.R. 3067, the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act, in the 112th Congress. Common-sense legislation like this ensures women have access to necessary resources in times of crisis. I will continue to support legislation which promotes women's health, as well as the health and lives of their unborn children. 

Again, thank you for contacting me, and do not hesitate to do so again when an issue is important to you. [Pols emphasis]

 

 Sincerely,

Cory Gardner
Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


There you have it, folks. Cory Gardner, in his own words, directly contradicting his own words. Could he possibly have been any sloppier with this Personhood flip-flop?

“Personhood” Is The Symptom, Not The Problem

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

GOP Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

AP's David Espo takes a high-level look at the last few remarkable days of Colorado politics:

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, moving toward the middle in a Senate race with national stakes, said Tuesday he abandoned his longtime support for measures giving legal rights to fertilized human eggs because it is a "settled issue" at home in Colorado…

Gardner's switch comes as Republicans nationally seek to win control of the Senate in this fall's elections. They hope to avoid a repeat of defeats in 2010 and 2012 in Colorado and elsewhere when their candidates lost apparently winnable races because they appeared too extreme on abortion and other issues for mainstream, moderate voters.

…Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA, which sponsored the personhood initiatives, expressed dismay at his shift. "He was elected to his position by pro-personhood, pro-life voters. It's pretty shocking," she said.

Gardner made his comments as a second Colorado Republican in Congress, Rep. Mike Coffman, also jettisoned his support for personhood proposals.

The decision by U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman whether or not abandon their prior support for the "Personhood" abortion ban measures involved the risk of massive, perhaps lethal political damage no matter which way they came down. To attempt to defend their support of these measures, would would have banned all abortions even in cases of rape or incest–and even some forms of "abortifacient" birth control–would have likely been political suicide. But by ripping the scab of an issue that smart Republican strategists wish would just go away completely, forcing other Republicans into the unwelcome spotlight with their flip-flopping…it's arguable that just as much damage has been done.

Because when you get past the defensive bluster, it's not about "Personhood." It's about banning abortion.

The possibility that the one-sentence Personhood amendments might have "unintended consequences" like banning certain forms of birth control was used unsuccessfully by Ken Buck in 2010 as an excuse to flip-flop, just as Gardner has now done four years later. But between 2010 and today, Gardner sponsored Personhood legislation in Congress with all of the same "unintended consequences"–that being the term of choice for Coffman's campaign explaining his flip-flop on the issue this week. And while we don't want to minimize the extreme nature of a ban on birth control, this excuse seems to be an attempt to distract from the real problem.

Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman both have explicitly supported a total ban on abortion even in cases of rape or incest during their political careers, entirely unconnected to the Personhood amendments. They may have flip-flopped on a specific policy measure which serviced the goal of banning all abortions, but other than Gardner's absurd denial in Lynn Bartels' original story, we've not seen any further engagement on the larger issue:

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 cases of rape or incest. [Pols emphasis]

Folks, as the record shows clearly, that charge is not a lie. There's no question that in the past, both Gardner and Coffman were willing to detail their opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Personhood is serving as an escape hatch for both of these men from bigger questions about the issue of abortion, and Democrats should not let that be the last word. In a state as historically pro-choice as Colorado, with the recent electoral history in our state clearly showing that abortion bans are not what the voters want, flip-flopping on the Personhood amendments without context isn't enough.

Unless this really is all a cheap semantic game? Let's poll some Colorado women voters and find out.

Annnnddd…It’s Officially Gotten Worse for Cory Gardner. Much, Much Worse.

Personhood Cory GardnerCongressman Cory Gardner's surprise flip-flop on Personhood last Friday continues to rage as a story this week, with another Colorado Congressman now ensnared (Rep. Mike Coffman) and a strange new battle — among anti-abortion groups, no less — about whether we can really believe Gardner's Personhood reversal. In other words, Gardner's attempt to ditch Personhood and leave the issue behind him is working out swell.

The quote at right appears near the end of a long article at LifeNews.com by site founder and editor Steven Ertelt, writing yesterday about Rep. Cory Gardner's switcheroo on Personhood. Ordinarily, you'd probably be able to guess what a story like this, from an anti-abortion news site, would include about a politician who just publicly dismissed Personhood.

GardnerStache

That wasn’t me who flip-flopped on Personhood. It was that other Senate candidate. The one with the moustache.

But we absolutely did not see this one coming…

Not only is LifeNews.com defending "Con Man" Cory Gardner's move to ditch Personhood, but the author goes so far as to indicate that Gardner doesn't actually mean what he's saying.

To begin: the beginning (specifically, the third paragraph):

During his tenure, Gardner has voted 100% pro-life, casting pro-life votes 14 out of 14 times since he was elected to Congress. Gardner has voted to stop taxpayer funding of abortions, he’s repeatedly voted against Obamacare and funding or Obamacare, he’s voted for legislation to ban late-term abortions, he’s voted to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business and to ban sex-selection abortions.

Gardner is also a sponsor of the Life at Conception act, a pro-life bill establishing the scientific fact that human life begins at conception.

Okay, pretty standard set up before yelling BETRAYAL, right?Cory Gardner

Nope. Instead, Ertelt uses those bonafides to start making his case for why Gardner isn't really changing his mind at all. Ertely writes that Gardner is ditching Personhood now because "he saw what happened to a fellow pro-life advocate who endorsed the measure" (Ken Buck in 2010).

And then, the ProLife.com article starts bashing Personhood USA for having the gall to be mad that Gardner just threw them under the bus.

Under a false headline, “Congressman Cory Gardner confesses pro-choice position,” Personhood USA is attempting to mislead pro-life voters into thinking Garnder (sic) is not pro-life.

“Cory Gardner has betrayed the Republican Party, his pro-life voters, and most importantly, unborn babies in Colorado,” commented Jennifer Mason, Personhood Spokesperson.

Obviously, this isn’t the case. Unfortunately, Personhood USA confuses a difference of opinion on pro-life strategy with a difference of opinion on pro-life principles. [Pols emphasis]

The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Gardner when he first ran for Congress and confirmed his pro-life bonafides…

…Unlike Harry Reid and his friends who control the Senate, Cory Gardner will give the pro-life movement another vote and the potential to actually pass legislation that will stop abortions and abortion funding. [Pols emphasis]

"Obviously, this isn't the case." It would be funny if it weren't so cringe-worthy — you're not supposed to tell people that the political stunt is just a politican stunt.

The folks at Personhood USA have likely been hearing this argument themselves, because today they sent out a news release to double-down on their anger at Gardner. It's also worth mentioning that they quoted directly from a recent Colorado Pols post, and provided the link (nice Internet etiquette, Personhood USA people!). Here is that release in its entirety:

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Romanoff Calls Out Coffman on “Personhood”; Coffman Drops Support

UPDATE #2: Per Fox 31's Eli Stokols, Rep. Mike Coffman is now doing a Cory Gardner and kicking Personhood to the curb entirely — not just as a 2014 ballot measure.

GOP Congressman Mike Coffman is no longer supporting personhood, his campaign confirmed Tuesday, making him the second Republican in the last five days to disavow the movement to ban abortion — even in cases of rape or incest — that he’d previously supported. Coffman, R-Aurora, made his abrupt 180 on the issue public through his campaign just hours after his opponent, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, challenged Coffman to do so…

Cory Gardner Flip Flops

One more pair for Mike Coffman, please

…In fact, Coffman has never disavowed personhood until today. In 2012, he told the Denver Post he “will not be endorsing nor opposing any state or local ballot questions” because he’s running for federal office — which he’s doing again in 2014. But a 2012 article by the Colorado Statesman noted that Coffman “stands alone as a major Colorado politician in close election who has not withdrawn his previous support for the personhood amendment” and quoted two personhood backers praising Coffman for his stance.

Looks like "daddy needs a new pair of shoes":

—–

UPDATE: Coffman's campaign manager responds, as Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post reports:

Coffman’s campaign manager, Tyler Sandberg, called Romanoff the “Czar of Sleaze,” comments that echoed Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet from their bitter 2010 Senate primary, and noted Coffman did not support personhood in 2012 (it was not on the November ballot that year) and does not support this year’s proposal…

…In 2012, Coffman was consistently assailed by this then Democratic challenger, state Rep. , for supporting “personhood.” Often in debates two years ago, Coffman, who is pro-life, would deflect the criticism and insisted his candidacy was not focused on social issues.

That's nice of Tyler Sandberg to note that Coffman didn't support Personhood in 2012, since that's relevant and all. And what's with "Czar of Sleaze?" Is that really the best nickname they could come up with for Romanoff?

—–

​In a press release and email blast to supporters this morning, Democratic CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff challenges incumbent Republican Mike Coffman on the suddenly reanimated issue of the "Personhood" total abortion bans repeatedly proposed in Colorado.

Most Coloradans understand the dangers of the "personhood" amendment. That’s why they’ve rejected this proposal every time it’s reached the ballot.

The amendment would criminalize not only abortion — even in cases of rape or incest — but also common forms of birth control. This initiative represents a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution, and it has no place in Colorado law.

We need a representative who recognizes that.

Unfortunately, Congressman Mike Coffman has supported the personhood amendment at every turn. He has described his opposition to reproductive rights as “unequivocal” and “unapologetic.”

After the jump, the Romanoff campaign's long list from today's release of supporting evidence that Coffman, or at least what we've come to refer to as "Old Coffman," is/has been a longtime supporter of the very same "Personhood" total abortion ban measures that have recently ensnared U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner. None of the information is new, of course; we and Democrats have taken note of Coffman's former ardent support for banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest in prior campaigns. But with the issue once again waylaying the campaigns of Colorado Republicans–much to Dick Wadhams' dismay–this may be the year that Coffman is finally made to answer for it.

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Gardner Said He’d Modify his Abortion Stance Before…Then Promptly Co-Sponsored Two Abortion Bills

(We remember this well — the Ft. Collins Coloradoan was not amused. — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Before being elected to Congress four years ago, Rep. Cory Gardner backed off campaign promises to ban abortion, much like Gardner did Friday when he un-endorsed the Personhood amendment.

But, as documented by the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, Gardner subsequently broke his promises and pushed multiple anti-abortion bills, including legislation banning abortion outright. Gardner's history raises the question of whether Gardner's latest twist of his abortion stance can be trusted.

In 2010, just after winning the GOP primary to run against Rep. Betsy Markey, Gardner promised journalists at the Ft. Collins Coloradoan that he wouldn't introduce anti-abortion legislation, despite promising to do so at a campaign event.

The Coloradoan posted audio of a meeting between Gardner and Coloradoan editors in 2010:

Coloradoan Editorial Page Editor Kathleen Duff: You say you're not running on social issues, so you're not, for instance, planning any legislation.

Gardner: Correct.

Duff: And you haven't crafted anything.

Gardner: [laughs] Correct. No. No.

Coloradoan Executive Editor Bob Moore: Although I've been at Tea Party events where you were at where you were specifically asked if you would introduce legislation on abortion, and you did say yes.

Gardner: Bob, I don't recall that.

Moore: Yeah. At one, you even mentioned some legislation you had already introduced in the state legislature, too.

Gardner: I don't recall that.

Moore: I can go back and dig it out. [He did. He posted the audio here.]

Gardner: Be that as it may, I am running to balance the budget…

Moore called out Gardner on his flip, in an article headlined, "Despite tea party pledge, Gardner says he won't carry abortion bill."

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Republicans Hammer “Con Man Cory” Gardner Over Personhood Flip-Flop

Cory Gardner Flip Flops

Camoflauge flip-flops! Perfect for hiding your positions and for looking good on the beach.

UPDATE: More GOP anger at Gardner, as Eli Stokols reports at FOX 31:

Just like Ken Buck, the GOP’s 2010 Senate candidate who first supported personhood only to disavow it later in the campaign, Gardner is suddenly the target of heavy criticism for trying to fool conservatives now that he’s through a primary.

Personhood USA offered this false headline: “Congressman Cory Gardner confesses pro-choice position,” telling pro-life voters that Garnder is not pro-life.

“Cory Gardner has betrayed the Republican Party, his pro-life voters, and most importantly, unborn babies in Colorado,” commented Jennifer Mason, Personhood Spokesperson.

Yikes!

—–

If you're tired of hearing about Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner's flip-flop on the Personhood issue…get over it. As we've said repeatedly since Gardner tossed Personhood under the bus on Friday afternoon, this may very well be the defining moment of the 2014 U.S. Senate campaign.

Today, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post follows up on the story she broke on Friday afternoon with reaction from some angry Republicans:

"It was politically stupid for him to do that," Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, said Monday.

Critics on both sides accused Gardner of trying to alter his image now that he is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in a state where voters two election cycles in a row overwhelmingly rejected personhood. [Pols emphasis]

The 2008 and 2010 ballot measures in essence outlawed abortion, but critics said the language also would have banned emergency contraception in rape cases and limited treatment for infertility.

"Republicans are so thirsty for victory they're ready to drink saltwater," personhood activist Ed Hanks of Douglas County wrote on his Facebook page. "Cory Gardner has just renounced the party platform and embraced abortion. Why are so many conservatives not fazed by this?" [Pols emphasis]

Mason, the President of Personhood USA, also warned that Gardner may now be at risk of losing a chunk of the 475,000 voters who supported Personhood in 2008 and 2010. "He's not going to lose all of them," Mason told the Post. "People are pretty ticked by Obamacare, guns and all the other stuff — but Cory needs those votes."

How big of a problem does Gardner have with Republicans who now feel betrayed? We heard rumblings over the weekend from Republican County Assemblies in Douglas and Jefferson that Gardner's flip-flop was a heated topic of conversation.

Gardner’s Personhood Flip-Flop: The Story Continues

Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner was obviously hoping that his flip-flop on the "Personhood" issue would be a minor blip on the campaign radar — hence the Friday afternoon surprise — but things haven't quite worked out that way. As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, Friday's news-dump is still a story on Monday:

On Monday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign responded to Gardner’s allegation to the Denver Post that the Udall team was”distorting his record” on the issue by pointing to the lawmaker’s record itself, noting that the Republican has co-sponsored legislation to ban abortion without exceptions for rape and incest as a member of the Colorado legislature and the U.S. Congress.

“Once again, Congressman Gardner is trying to run from his long record of turning his back on Colorado women,” the Udall campaign said in a press release. “Despite Gardner’s crocodile tears, the fact remains that the 2007 Colorado abortion ban that bears his name banned abortion even in cases of rape and incest.”

“And for the past two years Gardner cosponsored the Life at Conception Act, which would ban abortions even in cases of rape and incest, and outlaw common forms of birth control. The only person not being honest with Colorado voters is Cory Gardner.”

In 2007, Gardner, then a state representative, sponsored SB 143, which sought to outlaw all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”

And in 2012 and 2013 as a member of Congress, Gardner supported The Life Begins at Conception Act, a federal attempt to establish personhood. [Pols emphasis]

Those last two sentences above are a key point in Gardner's Personhood flip-flop. As we wrote over the weekend, Gardner's claim to have "re-thought" the issue of Personhood in 2010 is not supported by his own record. If Gardner really did re-think his stance on Personhood four years ago, he certainly kept it to himself while he was co-sponsoring legislation such as "The Life Begins at Conception Act," which is a fundamental part of the Personhood idea.

Not a “lie” for Udall to claim Gardner opposes abortion for rape

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

(Let's be crystal clear – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Denver Post reported Friday that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner accused the Udall campaign of lying when Udall claimed Gardner opposes abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. The Post's Lynn Bartels reported Friday:

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 cases of rape or incest. "Mark Udall wants to run a social issues campaign. He definitely wants to run as the social issues candidate," Gardner said.

Bartels should have stated, specifically, that it was not a lie for Udall to point out that Gardner opposes abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. That's been Gardner's position–even when asked about it outside of the context of the personhood amendment. Bob Moore of the Ft. Collins Coloradoan reported Sept. 26, 2010:

"I've been very up-front on it; I am pro-life," Gardner, a state representative from Yuma, said in an interview with the Coloradoan. When asked if he would allow exceptions for victims of rape or incest, or when the mother's life is in danger, Gardner said, "I'm pro-life, and I believe abortion is wrong."

Reporters should ask Gardner if he's had a change of heart not just about the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion for rape, but about his opposition specifically to abortion-in-the-cases-of-rape-and-incest. Gardner told The Post that his flip on personhood was based on its restriction on forms of contraception, but he has yet to explain if he's also reversed himself, specifically, on opposing abortion-for-rape-and-incest, and, if so, why.

Why Would Cory Gardner Flip-Flop on Personhood?

We said it on Friday, and we'll say it again here: Republican Cory Gardner's unfathomable flip-flop over his support of "Personhood" may well prove to be the decisive event in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Dark sunglasses? Check. Flip-flops? Check.

In case you missed the news, Gardner told Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post on Friday that he no longer supports "Personhood," despite a long history of backing the extreme anti-abortion policy that would give full human rights to a fertilized egg. This is a monumental change of position on an issue that has ended the career of more than one Republican politician. As we explained on Friday:

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 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."

Ever since the surprise late-February announcement that Gardner would be running for Senate, we have consistently wondered aloud how Gardner would be able to convince voters that he is more moderate than his ultra-partisan record would suggest. When we pondered whether Gardner was fundamentally different enough than Ken Buck to defeat Sen. Mark Udall, we weren't joking. It was lost in the media storm surrounding the Gardner/Buck CD-4 switcheroo, but Gardner's record is so partisan that it was always going to be extremely difficult for him to move to the middle.

So what do we make of Friday's announcement from Gardner? Is this part of a broader strategy to publicly pretend to re-invent himself? We asked those questions, and then we answered them. Here's how it went:

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Did Gardner hear Wadhams’ radio warnings about the toxicity of personhood to state-wide candidates?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dick Wadhams.

Dick Wadhams.

Back in August, Republican pundit and strategist Dick Wadhams was asked by KNUS radio host Matt Dunn if a "pro-life Republican" can win a "state-wide at the present time.”

Wadhams: “As long as they don’t make that the centerpiece of their campaign, or, to be honest, as long as they don’t endorse and embrace the personhood amendment. Bob Schaffer did not endorse personhood. Archbishop Chaput did not support personhood. It has dragged down a lot of Republicans in Colorado and across the nation.”

I like the “to be honest” part, because it shows that Wadhams was going the extra mile to be frank, to express a reluctant truth.

Maybe GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner was listening to Wadhams, because yesterday Gardner reversed his longstanding support for the personhood measure, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, saying he didn't fully understand it.

Until yesterday, Gardner certainly fell in the category of someone who embraced personhood, like Wadhams said no pro-life Republican candidate should do, if he or she wants to win a state-wide election.

During his run for Congress, in 2010, Gardner couldn’t have been more clear about his support for personhood. “I have signed the personhood petition,” Gardner was videotaped saying.. “I have taken the petitions to my church, and circulating into my church.” Gardner touted his personhood support to win his first congressional primary election.

The video of Gardner confirms what the founder of Colorado’s personhood movement, Kristi Brown (formerly Kristi Burton) told me a couple years ago at a news conference. She called Gardner one of the “main supporters” of the initial personhood campaign. Gardner was “very, very supportive” and attended personhood events and talked about the measure, she said.

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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.

——

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

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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:

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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:

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