Seriously? You Really Just Did That?

Wait...you didn't think I really cared, did you?

Got ya! You really thought I was serious?

Politico reporter Manu Raju has a strange story up today that doesn't reflect well on Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner. In the story, Raju seems determined to make his reporting match his pre-determined narrative — that Gardner miraculously cleared the Republican field for Senate — so much so that he virtually glosses over this incredible tidbit:

A woman on a breathing tube made clear that she was relying on Medicaid to survive.

“I was on my death bed, literally,” she told Gardner. “It kept me alive.”

“We got to protect Medicaid,” Gardner told her.

Asked about that episode later, Gardner made clear he opposed Colorado’s move to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. “I don’t know how Colorado is going to pay for it,” he said.

It says a lot about the author's determination to tell a specific story that the article just skips right along after this weirdly disgusting exchange. Gardner has been accused of being willing to do and say just about anything that might help him get elected, even if he doesn't agree with what he is saying (see: Personhood), but this is on another level entirely.

Just. Wow.

Gardner completely lied to a sick woman on a breathing tube, and the reporter who witnessed it can't wait to move on with his narrative. No follow-up. Not even a simple, Um, didn't you just lie to that woman?

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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Obama Indicates Action on NSA Spying; Udall Encouraged

President Obama is preparing to act on the NSA spying controversy that has become a key issue for Sen. Mark Udall, who has been leading the charge for change. As CNN reports:

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders said Tuesday they will propose changes to the National Security Agency that would end its sweeping collection of bulk telephone records.

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall. Okay, that’s enough. Stop looking at him.

Obama told reporters in The Netherlands that he received from his intelligence team a "workable" option for NSA reform that he said would "eliminate" concerns about bulk data collection by the government…

…A senior administration official told CNN that the White House plan, first reported by the New York Times, would ensure "the government no longer collects or holds" the telephone records known as metadata — which includes the numbers and time of the call, but no content such as the actual conversation.

According to the official, the proposal "still ensures that the government has access to the information it needs to meet the national security needs" Obama identified in January when he outlined needed changes.

In a media release sent out today, Sen. Udall sounded an optimistic tone: "I will review the details of the president's proposal, but I am encouraged by reports that he has embraced my approach to ending the dragnet collection of Americans' private phone records. The Constitution is clear and Coloradans agree: the ongoing bulk collections of Americans' call records is an unacceptable invasion of our privacy that doesn't make us safer and must be brought to an end. I look forward to seeing the president's full proposal and continuing my work to defend the Bill of Rights and keep America secure."

Full press release after the jump.

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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.

Nate Silver Picks Udall To Win

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nate Silver, Prophet

Nate Silver.

In one of his first posts since re-launching fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver picked Udall to win in the 2014 Colorado Senate Race, saying:

The GOP got the candidate of its choice in Rep. Cory Gardner, who declared for the race last month. That will prevent them from again nominating Ken Buck, the tea party candidate who lost a winnable race in 2010. (Buck has withdrawn from this year’s Senate race and decided to run for the U.S. House instead.) By our measures, Gardner is a decent candidate rather than a great one. He’ll start at a fundraising deficit to the Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall, who had $4.7 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, and he comes from a conservative district and has amassed a conservative voting record that may or may not translate well in the Denver suburbs. But Udall’s approval ratings only break even, and we give Republicans a 40 percent chance of winning his seat.

In rating the various Senate races, Silver and his team considered the national environment, candidate quality, state partnership, incumbency advantage, and available head-to-head polls. 

Silver went on to predict that the GOP had a slight advantage overall, with North Carolina rated as a 50-50 toss up and set to decide control of the Senate in 2015. He did urge caution though, as many of these races will shift significantly depending on the results of primaries. 

Silver explains that the Senate elections in years like this (seats which last had an election during an open seat presidential year, like 2008), the opposition is expected to have a major advantage, which in this case, should be amplified by the ongoing GOP advantage in off-years. So the fact the Senate battle is shaping up to be an even split, with neither side a clear front-runner, is actually great news for dems. 

But we'll have to wait and see once primaries in states like Alaska have been decided for a truly clear picture of where everything stands. 

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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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Udall vs. Gardner: The Kitchen Sink vs. Obamascare

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Good analysis of the Colorado U.S. Senate race today from the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Abortion, immigration, the federal government shutdown — to hear the left tell it, Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner has a multitude of sins to answer for as he campaigns across Colorado to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

The right isn't any happier with Udall, but it's his vote for the Affordable Care Act that will be hammered again. And again. And again. [Pols emphasis]

With control of the U.S. Senate at stake, millions of dollars will be spent over the next eight months to dissect, distort and doctor their records…

Bartels explores some, but not all, of the campaign themes likely to be used against Cory Gardner in this year's U.S. Senate race in today's story, which we recommend in its entirety. She notes Gardner's proud support in 2010, as recorded in a 9NEWS CD-4 primary debate, for the "Personhood" abortion ban amendment–even helping gather signatures to get Amendment 62 on the ballot that year. And what we've discussed in this space as a particularly strong hit on Gardner, his role in last year's economically disastrous shutdown of the federal government:

Take last year's government shutdown in the midst of Colorado's devastating floods. Rocky Mountain National Park alone lost nearly $11 million in revenues. Democrats say the shutdown occurred when a group of Tea Party-type Republicans, Gardner included, refused to support funding mechanisms unless Obamacare was delayed or overturned.

Gardner supporters argue the congressman was part of a group of Republicans trying to come up with a deal. Democrats counter the effort came after fellow GOP members of Congress were on TV blasting their own party over the shutdown…

The government shutdown was a huge setback for Republicans politically, with the public overwhelmingly turning against House Republicans in particular as the manufactured crisis wore on. The tremendous and very real economic damage to communities like Estes Park, which saw tourism plunge during the shutdown and even after neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park was shuttered, stands in stark contrast to the proven mendacious attacks on Sen. Mark Udall over the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare." And don't forget the added drama of anger from East Coast elected officials from both parties over Gardner's vote against Hurricane Sandy relief, then seeking relief dollars from the same source for flood relief in Colorado.

As for health care, what's Gardner's plan? We already know it doesn't include coverage for pre-existing conditions. And that's before we even get to the video clip we grabbed back in 2011 (top) of Gardner lavishing praise on the Ryan Plan GOP budget that would have privatized Medicare.

And this is the point that becomes clear from today's story: as the Obamacare-centric attacks on Democrats get debunked, and the "horror stories" being spread about the new law fail to pass elementary scrutiny–and are not substantiated by the experience of actual voters–the efficacy of Obamacare as a weapon against Democrats is breaking down. Conservative attack groups like Americans for Prosperity have been running shrill anti-Obamacare ads for months, but are meeting a progressively more chilly reception from the media as their false claims become more widely recognized. Assuming that continues, the days of persuasively spreading total lies like "millions have lost health insurance" could be about over.

Once that happens, Democrats have an awful lot of things to talk about.

Politifact: AFP Anti-Udall Obamacare Ad Rates “False”

truthometerfalse

As posted today by leading national fact-checking site Politifact, operated by the Tampa Bay Times:

"People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either. But health care isn’t about politics," she says. "It’s about people. And millions of people have lost their health insurance, millions of people can’t see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less."

We’ve tackled claims about lost insurance and access to personal doctors before. But we haven’t heard someone say that the health care law is causing people to pay more for less, so we decided to check it out.

Politifact says that the first two claims in Americans For Prosperity's TV spot running in Colorado against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall–that "millions of people have lost their health insurance" and that "millions of people can’t see their own doctors" as "False" and "Mostly False" respectively, based on equivalent statements made by GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Marco Rubio. But the third claim made by this ad, that "millions are paying more and getting less," was sufficiently unexplored that Politifact made a deep dive. And the verdict:

Other than a sharp increase between 2010 to 2011, the Obama years have experienced the smallest rate increases of the last 14 years. [Pols emphasis] Throughout much of the early 2000s, premium increases of 9 percent or more were the norm.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also found a slowdown in the increase in health costs during the last four years, including a modest 4 percent increase from 2011 to 2012…

Americans for Prosperity said "millions are paying more and getting less" under Obamacare. We found their explanation of "less" rather dubious. Most people on the individual market are getting more benefits under the law. At worst, they’re paying more to get more, though in many cases they’re actually paying less.

We rate this claim False.

By thoroughly exploring this key claim in AFP's new ad, and rating it unequivocally false–along with the other claims in the ad already rated either false or mostly so–Politifact goes even farther than 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman, whose solid debunking of this ad has given Democrats another tool to fight back against AFP's enormous ad buy. There's no equivalent in federal law to Colorado's law outlawing false political advertising, and we haven't heard a legal opinion as to whether or not this ad could be pulled down under Colorado's law. But if there's anybody out there who has seen this ad saturating Colorado media markets–which is everybody–and hasn't learned that it's been totally discredited–which is almost everybody–Democrats need to get the facts out.

Because Americans For Prosperity is counting on the voters never getting the facts.

Cory Gardner Loves Him Some Ken Buck

Republican Ken Buck announced today what should come as little surprise: Rep. Cory Gardner has endorsed his campaign to replace him in CD-4.

BuckGardnerTwitter

It’s a love-fest in the Northeast Corner.

​Buck made the announcement on Twitter this morning (see image at right). While the endorsement isn't a surprise for ideological reasons, it still seems a bit strange to play right into the hands of the campaign of Sen. Mark Udall, which has been branding Gardner as a younger version of Buck.

Just a few weeks ago, Buck withdrew from the U.S. Senate race in order to make way for Gardner and to make his own run for CD-4. We've heard rumors since that "backroom deal" was first made public that Buck may have approached Gardner at some point to consider the campaign switcheroo. Others have attributed the maneuver to national GOP strategist Karl Rove, with less concern for Buck's future. 

Whatever the order of discussion, the deal would need to include Gardner's support for Buck in CD-4 for Buck to not get swamped by primary challenger. Here's the email from Buck's campaign announcing the news:

Friends,

I am writing today because I wanted to let you know that I am supporting Ken Buck as he runs to be our next representative in Congress. 

Washington’s lack of commonsense and leadership grows daily. In the many years I have known Ken, his dedication to helping others as a District Attorney, coach and community member, have shown me that he will help fill this void. Ken will work hard to put Colorado and America back on track.

I look forward to working with Ken to return fiscal responsibility, free-market economic ideas and commonsense Colorado values to Washington. Will you join me in supporting Ken?

We cannot be successful without your help. Anything you give will be used to introduce voters to Ken, combat the negative attacks and spread our message. The time to act is now. Show your support today.

Ken will be a great, independent leader for the 4th Congressional District.

                Sincerely,
             

 

 

 

With a plethora of Republicans jockeying for the right to win the GOP nomination in CD-4, it will be interesting to see if any of the candidates start bad-mouthing Gardner now that he has officially backed Buck. With the caucus season underway and the June Primary just around the corner, there's little time left to consider pulling punches.

Poll: Hickenlooper Pulling Away from Rest of Field

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is out with some new numbers in Colorado for both the race for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Is there room for a competitive candidate?

Is there any room for a competitive candidate?

Things are largely unchanged in the race for Senate, even with the inclusion of Rep. Cory Gardner in the race, but it's the fight for the Governor's Mansion where the numbers have really shifted:

John Hickenlooper's approval rating is back on positive ground at 48/41, after slipping into negative territory on our December poll. Hickenlooper's also back to having double digit leads over all of his potential Republican opponents. Bob Beauprez comes closest at 48/38, followed by Scott Gessler at 48/36, Tom Tancredo at 50/36, Greg Brophy at 48/33, and Mike Kopp at 49/32. Hickenlooper's lead over the four Republicans included in the December poll has increased from an average of 8 points to an average of 14 points.

The Republican clown car is close to bursting with Bob Beauprez now part of the field. With the State Party Convention just a few weeks away (April 12), there isn't any room left for another Republican candidate — even if they could find someone more competitive than the current crop of GOP contenders. The newest PPP poll reflects that reality, with voters acknowledging that Gov. John Hickenlooper can start to breathe a little easier. Hickenlooper's 48% approval rating isn't steller by any means, but it's all relative when it comes to campaign season; the Republican with the highest favorability rating is Tancredo, at just 30%.

Grand Bargain’s proposed Social Security Cuts hurt Dems in recent Florida election

Memo to Mark Udall:

The National Republican Congressional Committee hit Alex Sink from the left on this, saying she "supports a plan that raises the retirement age for Social Security recipients, raises Social Security taxes, and cuts Medicare."  Liberal writers cried hypocrisy, but it didn't matter: Sink lost. For the Left, it's evidence that Democrats need to take a firm line on the entitlement program — or even support expanding it — at a time when some in the party, and especially the White House, have offered concessions.

It couldn't hurt to try. Obviously, Democrats get no political benefit from trying to cut these programs, (unless you count Villagers extolling them for being "grown-ups" which should get them at least a hundred votes in Virginia.) Why they persist in thinking this was good politics is beyond me.  Senator Jeff Merkley came out for Social Security expansion this week and Senator Mark Begich had signed on earlier so we should have a decent experiment in a blue state and a red state on this issue. I have no idea if it will be decisive, but in an off-year election that traditionally tilts heavily to older voters I think it's fair to say that denying the Republicans the ability to slap you in the face with a stated desire to cut Social Security (and a plan to actually improve it!) is a smart idea. 

Mark Udall used to love those pats on the head Lawrence Kudlow gave him for saying he would vote tomorrow to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a Grand Bargain.

It was stupid then, it's stupid now, and there's plenty of evidence to say Dems, and Mark Udall, should drop the "adults in the room" facade and fully support the middle class and those social safety net programs that have kept it from becoming extinct.

Koch Brothers Recycling Program Comes To Colorado

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo reacts similarly:

Have we heard the last Obamacare "horror" story? If new ads from the Koch Brothers-backed group are any indication, we might have…

[W]hat's notable about the ads is what they aren't: A personalized story of someone who's been negatively affected by Obamacare, the kind of verifiable set of facts that can be checked — and rebutted, as happened with a recent AFP ad that led to significant backlash from the fact-checking community.

…It's a notably different style after the group incurred the wrath of fact-checkers over an ad released last month in the Michigan Senate race. That ad told the story of a cancer patient who had her plan canceled because of Obamacare. But the spot didn't mention that the subject would save at least $1,200 for a new health plan under the law, as TPM and numerous other-fact-checkers reported.

—–

As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, Koch brothers-funded attack group Americans for Prosperity's much-anticipated "new" ad attacking incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado is on the air today:

Dustin Zvonek, Colorado state director of AFP, said the TV ads are only part of the effort to hold Udall accountable for his continued support of ObamaCare.

“As the state’s largest free-market advocacy group, we will also engage our nearly 68,000 Colorado activist to begin holding phone banks, and going door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor talking to Coloradans about Sen. Udall’s record,” he said.

AFP, funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers, has bought an ad buy of nearly $850,000 in Denver and Colorado Springs over the next three weeks. The group also is funding ads in other states where Democratic seats are up for grabs.

After Bartels posted the video yesterday evening, an important production detail quickly emerged:

The women in the Udall ad begins by saying, “People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either.”

Then she should quit making them. She has starred in three nearly identical “Obamacare just doesn’t work” ads, one targeting Udall, one targeting U.S. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and one that urges Americans to call Congress. [Pols emphasis]

 
 

That's right, folks! The ad now up attacking Udall is almost identical to ads Americans for Prosperity ran last fall attacking several other incumbent Democrats. The Hill reported last November:

"ObamaCare doesn't work. It just doesn't work," says the narrator in ads against Barber, Hagan and Murphy, after running through the litany of ongoing problems with the law.

"I trusted the president and Senator Begich. Lots of promises were made to pass ObamaCare. They knew the real truth," says the narrator in the Alaska ad. "Senator Begich didn't listen. How can I ever trust him again?"

Of course it's possible that this paid actor really did personally feel this way about all of these carefully targeted Democratic incumbents, but we kind of doubt it. But what's particularly interesting about AFP's recycled ad against Sen. Udall is how, in the months between these ads and now, Americans for Prosperity had rolled out locally-focused ads–with real people as opposed to actors telling their own personal "Obamacare horror stories."

Which have been swiftly debunked by inquiring media as fast as AFP can film ads.

With that in mind, reversion to pre-"horror story" ads makes sense, doesn't it? After all, there's not much to debunk with an actor except, well, noting they're using an actor. It neatly avoids the embarrassing trouble AFP has had in Michigan with woefully inaccurate claims about a cancer patient named Julie Boonstra, or for that matter, freelance local reporter Art Kane's recent factually unencumbered "Obamacare horror stories" for the Denver Post. But don't you think that, for all the money they're lavishing to run this ad, they could have come up with a new one? This just seems like a half effort–and an expensive one at that.

For Americans for Prosperity, truly, "reality bites." Fortunately for them, there are actors.

Kochs in Colorado for Gardner

The Koch Brothers and their Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity are coming to a TV screen near year you. As Politico reports:

Americans for Prosperity has reserved nearly $850,000 in airtime for TV ads that will begin Monday.

A source tracking media buys told POLITICO that about $500,000 in time has been reserved in Denver and $340,000 has been reserved in Colorado Springs. The money is spread over three weeks.

This buy from Americans for Prosperity is the first major expenditure by an outside group in Colorado in 2014, but it certainly won't be the last. We haven't seen the ad, but no doubt it attempts to tie incumbent Sen. Mark Udall to Obamacare. None of this is a surprise, except for the details: $340,000 seems like a lot of money to spend in a Colorado Springs market, where a heavy Republican voter base should theoretically already oppose Udall. Perhaps Udall isn't as disliked in Southern Colorado as we all might have expected.

Lessons from Florida: Obamacare is Not the Silver Bullet that Republicans Thought They Had

In a Tuesday Special Election in Florida, Republicans managed to hold on to a Republican House seat when David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink by a slim 48-46 margin. The campaign in Florida's 13th district was for the right to complete the term of the late Rep. Bill Young, who died last October.

Obamacare as a political toolEven before the race was called Tuesday night, the National Republican Congressional Committee was telling anyone who would listen that "Obamacare" was going to devastate Democratic candidates throughout the country. We've been keeping an eye on the FL-13 election for some time now, primarily because Colorado Republicans like Congressman Cory Gardner have openly expressed their belief that voter disgust with Obamacare will carry them into office in November. If the FL-13 results are any indication of how things may play out elsewhere, Gardner and friends may want to make sure they have a 'Plan B' should Obamacare stop gaining traction. Here's why:

In 2012, Rep. Young was re-elected with 58% of the vote; Jolly was a longtime staffer for Young, yet he wasn't able to crack 50% on Tuesday. Keeping what should have been a safe House seat cost Republicans and their supporters a tremendous sum of money. As our friend Chris Cillizza at "The Fix" reported on Tuesday:

$12.7 million. [Pols emphasis]

That's how much Democrat Alex Sink, Republican David Jolly and a slew of outside organizations have spent — so far — on Tuesday's special election to replace the late Bill Young (R) in Florida's 13th district, according to calculations by the Center for Public Integrity's Michael Beckel. And, the bulk of that money — $8.7 million or 68.5 percent — has been spent not by the candidates but rather by the ever-growing universe of outside organizations on both sides of the aisle. [Pols emphasis]

That's a stunning number — particularly for a seat that could, no matter who wins tonight, be lost in six months time in the November midterms.

Remember, that $12.7 million number was just the amount of spending that had been reported as of Tuesday — it's very likely that the final tally could end up closer to $20 million. In other words, Republicans and their allies will have spent in the range of $10 million to ultimately win a single Congressional seat by a 2 point margin in which the GOP candidate failed to even reach 50%.

That "Obamacare" theme is one expensive silver bullet.

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