Friday Open Thread

“If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”

–Richard Branson

Jason Crow Keeps Up Momentum in CD-6

Democrat Jason Crow

With every Trump Tweet, Democrats seemingly become more emboldened about their chances in 2018. Whether sensing opportunity or stoking the fires of their own growing anger with the White House and an inept Republican Congress, Democrats in Colorado have had little trouble finding candidates for the most high-profile races in the state.

Three Democrats are running for the opportunity to take on Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) in CD-6, a seat that Dems have been perpetually optimistic about capturing ever since redistricting changed the boundaries in 2012. While the slate of candidates may not yet be complete, with each passing week Democrat Jason Crow seems to be pulling further and further away from the rest of the pack. Today, Crow’s campaign announced that it has secured two more significant endorsements that should play big dividends in a Democratic Primary: former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and state Senator Irene Aguilar.

Crow’s solid Q2 fundraising numbers and a steady stream of notable endorsements have given him plenty of momentum over the other two Democrats in the race (Levi Tillemann and David Arrestad). We’ve got a long way to go here, of course, but surrogates for the incumbent Coffman have already demonstrated that Crow is the Democrat who concerns them the most in 2018. If Crow can keep up this momentum, we’re likely to see that General Election matchup heating up one year from now.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 17)

On this day 11 years ago, it was 2006. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) isn’t up for re-election until 2020, but he has a LOT of work to do just to win back his Republican base. Conservative writer Jennifer Rubin absolutely dismantled Gardner in a column yesterday in the Washington Post titled “Cory Gardner Has a Choice: Voters or Trump.” Here’s an excerpt:

Gardner has sacrificed his integrity and betrayed the confidence voters place in him to be an independent-minded voice. And for what? His reputation has suffered, his profile has fallen…

…It’s Gardner’s moral absenteeism that reminds all voters how unworthy of office are Trump and his go-along Republicans. Anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats should get ready for 2020 — they can and should have the chance to knock him out of office.

Yikes! It has not been a good week for Sen. Gardner. Maybe he’ll feel better tomorrow after he hosts a fundraiser tonight in Denver along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

President Trump is on a mission to burn every bridge imaginable, and it may only be a matter of time before he is forced to answer his own phones in the White House. As Politico reports, Trump is essentially just an orang-er version of that angry old man down the street who shakes his fist at kids for running on his lawn:

President Donald Trump’s decision to double down on his argument that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven in part by his own anger — and his disdain for being told what to do…

…The controversy over his response to the Charlottesville violence was no different. Agitated about being pressured by aides to clarify his first public statement, Trump unexpectedly unwound the damage control of the prior two days by assigning blame to the “alt-left” and calling some of the white supremacist protesters “very fine people.”

“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting.”

That thing about the old guy down the street? We take that back. Trump is 9-years-old. You’re not the boss of me!!!

Never content to let a divisive issue settle, Trump is now raging about the removal of statues that celebrate the Confederate Army. From the Washington Post:

President Trump on Thursday mourned the loss of “beautiful statues and monuments” in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville during a white supremacist demonstration protesting the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee.

Trump’s string of morning tweets made clear the president was not willing to back down over his claims Tuesday that some of the demonstrators had legitimate grievances over the loss of Southern “history,” and that “both sides” were to blame in the mayhem that left a woman dead and at least 19 more injured. Trump made those claims a day after he had belatedly condemned the neo-Nazi and Klux Klan groups that organized the Unite the Right rally. Politicians from both parties have criticized the president for inflaming racial tensions and failing to provide clear moral leadership for the nation.

History may well show that Trump’s Presidency truly did collapse this week. Hell, even Brick Tamland Rep. Doug Lamborn is condemning Trump’s comments about white supremacists in no uncertain terms.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Even Doug Lamborn Is Dissing Trump Now

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, that’s everybody:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn pushed back against President Donald Trump’s Tuesday comments that “there is blame on both sides” for weekend violence in Virginia, saying any statements that in any way embolden white supremacists are wrong.

“The KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and nationalists are abhorrent,” the El Paso County Republican said. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong.”

Trump remarks on his home turf at Trump Tower in New York City backtracked on a more deliberate statement he made Monday in Washington condemning those hate groups. He angrily placed blame on liberal groups on Tuesday in addition to white supremacists for the Charlottesville, Va., violence. Some of those protesting the rally to save a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were “also very violent,” he said.

“There are two sides to a story,” he said. He added that some facts about the violence in Charlottesville still aren’t known.

Not to be gratuitously insulting to the Republican representative of deep-red El Paso County and Colorado Springs, but Rep. Doug Lamborn has a well-earned reputation for not being, you know, the sharpest knife in the proverbial drawer. Lamborn has had his own racially-tinged gaffes, like his unfortunate reference to President Barack Obama as a “tar baby” he’d rather not hug–an incident that may in retrospect may have been more clumsy than than it was intentionally racist.

Either way, President Trump has now given even the most gaffe-prone politician a wide-open shot at rehabilitation, simply by jumping on the bandwagon of condemning Trump’s increasingly undeniable and unapologetic racism–and even a bunch for whom the offenses were not ‘gaffes’ at all. After doubling down on horrifying initial remarks after the violence in Virginia last weekend that everyone thought the White House would try to walk back–and indeed, they tried–there’s just not much for Republicans to do now other than minimize the collateral damage.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that more or less the whole Republican Party expressed its disapproval of Trump–and considering they did so just a couple of weeks before he won the election, their sincerity is not real easy to gauge.

Unless that prior behavior tells you everything you need to know.

Colorado’s Senate GOP Spokesman Calls Fact-Check Journalism “Largely Phony” (And More)

(Grrrr, facts are dumb — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

paige on Ingold article 8-2017Colorado’s Republican Senate spokesman, Sean Paige, isn’t shy about expressing himself on Twitter.

So I was surprised that he wouldn’t explain why he took to Twitter to call into question the “objectivity” of John Ingold’s excellent Denver Post article, “Is Medicaid Gobbling Up Colorado’s Budget?

“What’s wrong with The Denver Post article?” I tweeted at Paige, who’s the former Deputy Director of Colorado Americans for Prosperity. “This is one of the most serious topics facing #coleg #copolitics.”

He disappointed me by tweeting back, “I’ll leave the faux media critic shtick 2 U and share what critiques I have with the paper. But I thought the piece was flawed.”

I eventually got more details on Paige’s thinking, because someone passed along a Facebook post by Paige, in which he explained his problems with the piece and with journalists.

Basically, he seems to hold them in very low regard, calling fact checking by reporters a “largely phony” activity carried out mostly by “left-leaning journalists not correcting but counter-spinning points of view they disagree with.” (Now I feel much better about him calling me a “faux media critic.”)

Ingold’s Medicaid piece is an example of the left-leaning, counter-spinning work of the press, writes Paige:

Paige: “The ‘reporter,’ who in this case becomes an advocate disguised as an ‘analyst,’ takes on the question of whether the Medicaid expansion that accompanied Obamacare is really, in fact, devouring a bigger share of Colorado’s budget. But instead of just reporting the facts and the truth — which of course is taking a bigger bite out of the budget, squeezing dollars that could be going to schools, roads, etc. — the writer [Ingold] works to soften that harsh but factual conclusion by mounting a defense of the program and putting the problem in a context that makes it appear like a non-problem. He’s doing what Democrats do, in other words, every time a non-Democrat asks and impertinent question about the blob that’s eating the state budget.” [emphasis added]

So Paige is openly advocating for shallow journalism. He wants Ingold to write that Medicaid costs are increasing and stop there!

Ingold’s sin was to dig into the budget Medicaid numbers, instead of just regurgitating the budget pie charts.

He determined that none of the money being spent on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion can go to “roads, schools, etc.,” as Paige wants. You’d think this would be important information for Paige, like he other facts reported by Ingold: The Medicaid budget has, in fact, increased, from 17 percent of the general fund in 2000 to 26 percent today. But how to cut it? Ingold reports that if you took the advice of many conservatives and took away Medicaid from “able-bodied” poor people (most of whom incidentally, are already working), you’d save hundreds of millions of dollars out of a $10 billion general-fund budget.

Ingold tells us where a disproportionate amount of Medicaid spending goes: “People with disabilities and people in nursing homes, for instance, make up 10 percent of the state’s Medicaid enrollment — but account for 42 percent of state Medicaid spending.”

These nonpartisan facts didn’t stick in Paige’s brain, because he accuses Ingold of doing “intellectual contortions” to avoid “reaching a politically incorrect conclusion.”

Since Paige cites no factual errors, it appears he thinks Ingold contorted by failing to report on, as Paige puts it, “the trap [Obamacare] set for the state, by creating the potential for a fiscal crisis when ‘the feds’ either can’t or won’t continue with that arrangement and Obama’s check bounces.”

All of Paige’s hostility toward Ingold seems to stem from Ingold’s decision to leave that dubious notion out of his article. Seriously? Every time reporters write about a federal program with a state impact (military, national parks, roads, BLM, EPA), they should discuss the possibility of Uncle Sam’s check bouncing?

Paige, who didn’t return a call for comment, concludes his post with a broad slam at fact checking, which is one of the most honorable missions of journalism in our age of degraded discourse.

Paige: “I believe ‘yes but’ stories, like the dishonest ‘fact-checking’ exercises that have become such a trend among media outlets, are just another way for opinionated journalists to have the last word, while pretending to be honest brokers of information.”

I have to say, I’m glad he’s not my press secretary. But if he were, and I were his honorable Republican boss, I’d tell Paige to immediately stop blaming Obamacare for Colorado’s budget problems and, instead, come up with reality-based solutions. I doubt a specific list of Medicaid cuts would be among them.

Thursday Open Thread

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

–Adlai Stevenson

Conservative Columnist: “Gardner Shows No Moral Leadership”

Senator Cory Gardner is in trouble.

On Tuesday, Gardner held his first solo town hall appearance(s) in more than a year. The coverage of those events (in Colorado Springs, Greeley, and Lakewood) was largely negative for the freshman Senator, but there were a few friendlier media voices that could help Gardner feel a little better about the rough reception he received.

And then there was Jennifer Rubin.

The well-known conservative columnist absolutely unloaded on Gardner today. Rubin writes the “Right Turn” blog for the Washington Post, and if you have a knee-jerk reaction to assume a liberal bias because of the publication, it’s important to know that Rubin’s conservative bonafides are more than solid. In fact, Rubin heaped praise and sunshine on Gardner just last December, calling him a “steady but quiet force in the Senate” in a column dedicated entirely to our man from Yuma.

It’s safe to say that Rubin is no longer buying whatever Gardner is selling. We’d encourage you to read her entire column today, titled, “Cory Gardner Has a Choice: Voters or Trump?” In fact, it’s hard for us to pick out a handful of anecdotes to best represent the apparent disgust Rubin has with Gardner today, but we’ll do our best.

Sen. Cory Gardner in a July press conference about repealing Obamacare.

Rubin starts out by pointing out that Gardner has come a long way from where he started when he won a Senate seat in 2014:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) ran in 2014 as a reform-minded, inclusive Republican (now an oxymoron). He successfully beat back the “war on women” charge from Democrats. He nevertheless turned out to be a political lemming [Pols emphasis] — yes on endorsing Donald Trump’s candidacy (until the “Access Hollywood” tape); yes on denying Merrick Garland a confirmation vote; yes on President Trump’s extreme and unqualified nominees (only the U.S. trade representative [!] nominee drew a no vote); and yes on Trumpcare, including a one-year ban on Planned Parenthood funding. When he returned home this week, he got an angry reception…

Rubin is not at all impressed with Gardner’s attempt to finesse questions about President Trump, whose bizarre news conference on Tuesday seemed to indicate his support for white supremacists:

When the hard questions come, Gardner shows no moral leadership…

…In  three years, no one will say in his defense, “But Cory Gardner was privately upset so he gets a pass!” or “But Cory Gardner made empty public statements after Charlottesville!”

It is because of passive, cowering Republicans such as Gardner that Trump feels confident he can ride out his term. Gardner is the quintessential decent man who refused to interpose himself between an abhorrent leader and his country. Gardner has sacrificed his integrity and betrayed the confidence voters place in him to be an independent-minded voice. And for what? His reputation has suffered, his profile has fallen. [Pols emphasis]

In her final paragraph, Rubin drops the hammer:

It’s Gardner’s moral absenteeism that reminds all voters how unworthy of office are Trump and his go-along Republicans. Anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats should get ready for 2020 — they can and should have the chance to knock him out of office. [Pols emphasis]

There is no way to sugarcoat this for Gardner. Rubin was one of the leaders of the Cory Gardner fan club as recently as last December. But as 2017 wore on, it became apparent that Gardner preferred the title of “leadership” in the U.S. Senate as opposed to actually, you know, showing leadership.

We noticed the change ourselves some months back, but these critical comments from an erstwhile-friendly conservative commentator confirm that Sen. Gardner took a hard-right turn at Donald Trump’s side and hasn’t looked back since.

Donald Trump May Have Lost Control of the White House

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, and other staffers during Trump’s Tuesday press conference (Kristin Donnelly, NBC News)

Donald Trump has gotten away with saying more ridiculous things than any President in modern history. With his stunning remarks Tuesday on the violence in Charlottesville, VA, Trump may have finally gone beyond a point that his own staff is willing to follow.

As multiple media outlets are reporting today, Trump’s insane comments seemingly defending white supremacists could lead to a mass exodus of vital staff members.

Here’s NBC News:

To President Trump’s aides, it was stunning. Multiple sources inside and close to the White House described the president’s senior staff as confused and frustrated, caught off guard by Trump’s decision to defend his initial response to the violence in Virginia.

He “went rogue,” one senior White House official told NBC News.

And Politico:

White House aides are wrestling with how to respond to President Donald Trump’s defiant news conference on Tuesday in which he doubled down on his statement that “both sides” are to blame for the Charlottesville violence and offered what some perceived to be overtures to white supremacists.

No aides had yet threatened to resign as of Wednesday morning, according to White House officials and advisers, but a number of White House staffers had private conversations on Tuesday night about how terribly the day went. [Pols emphasis]

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who was standing near Trump on Tuesday for what was supposed to be a statement about infrastructure, was particularly displeased, according to people familiar with the matter, as the president launched into a rant about the culpability of the “alt-left” while calling some of the protesters at the white nationalist rally “very fine people.”…

And The Washington Post:

Now that President Trump has reverted to his earlier position that “many sides” are to blame for the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, the dismay of senior people very close to him is suddenly getting smuggled out to the rest of the world, as if by magic. [Pols emphasis] We are told that Gary Cohn, a top economic adviser to the White House, was “disgusted” and “upset.” We learn that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been urging moderation. We are informedthat Trump’s top aides were “stunned” by Trump’s comments, and that new chief of staff John F. Kelly was “very frustrated” by them.

And the New York Times:

No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. [Pols emphasis] The National Economic Council chairman, Gary D. Cohn, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray.

We could go on and on and on, but let’s wrap up with this story from CNN:

Donald Trump always got away with everything.

The most unorthodox candidate and president in history has exhibited a near-mystical capacity to evade the price of blunders that would have felled conventional politicians.

If that is ever going to change, the moment may be now.

Trump’s approval ratings continue to plummet, as does his hope of advancing any sort of policy agenda with Congressional Republicans who are increasingly distancing themselves from the President. The President has already burned through three different Communications Directors in his first 200 days in office; Hope Hicks, who is all of 28-years-old, is the new White House Communications Director. But what happens when critical staff members such as Cohn and Kelly decide that they can longer work for Trump?

At what point does the White House all but cease to function? We may be on the verge of finding out the answer to that question.

Local Media Can’t Whitewash Cory Gardner’s Very Bad Day

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As Politico reports today, months of pent-up anger over Sen. Cory Gardner’s votes in the U.S. Senate since President Donald Trump took office exploded at three town halls held in Colorado Springs, Greeley and finally in Lakewood yesterday afternoon. The result was a public humiliation of the likes Gardner has never seen in his relatively brief political career:

Sen. Cory Gardner was hammered for supporting Obamacare repeal during a series of raucous town halls on Tuesday, where constituents repeatedly criticized his role in a closed-door partisan process to draft the failed GOP health bill.

Gardner, who’s responsible for protecting the GOP majority in the Senate in 2018, faced heated criticism over the repeal effort that collapsed just a few weeks ago, even as congressional leaders try to pivot to tax reform when they return from the lengthy recess next month.

While Gardner’s constituents in this purple state applauded him for his swift and strong condemnation of white supremacist groups this weekend, he was interrupted by boos and jeers of “shame” and was called a “liar” as he defended his support for health care legislation that would have significantly scaled back Obamacare and Medicaid. One attendee at the town hall here, held at Colorado Christian University in a Denver-area suburb, was escorted out by police after repeatedly shouting, “Why are you taking away health care?”

Roll Call’s Kyle Stewart describes a typical exchange between Gardner and the town hall attendees, in which Gardner’s initially satisfying answers were undercut by hypocritical qualifiers by the end–prompting the crowd to reject them rather vocally:

The conversation soon shifted to the environment when a woman with 350 Colorado, a grassroots movement dedicated to addressing climate change, asked the senator about a plan to expand coal mining in the state. She said she opposed the plan, which would allow coal to be mined in Gunnison National Forest…

There was little opposition to Gardner’s initial response.

“I want nothing more for them than to have a brighter, better future, clean air, and clean environment,” the senator said.

As he continued, Gardner lost the crowd’s approval. [Pols emphasis]

“I do believe that we have to have an all of the above energy policy,” Gardner said as boos started. “I do believe that we have to have coal.”

It’s important to note that Republicans made a significant effort to turn out supporters to all three of these events. Despite this, it’s true that yesterday’s town halls were overwhelmingly filled with Sen. Gardner’s critics. But the audience wasn’t just blindly shouting down Gardner at every turn, as evidenced by applause for Gardner and praise in many questions for his standing up against white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. In the exchange above, the booing only began after Gardner gave an answer that initially drew praise–but was undercut by his next statement.

The audience was angry, but they were angry for specific reasons. And they gave Gardner credit where due.

Local media, on the other hand, seems to have been taken in by a deliberate strategy from Gardner and his staff to play for sympathy off the crowd’s easily-anticipated anger. On social media and via direct communication with local reporters, Gardner’s staff aggressively pushed the narrative of an ignorant mob shouting down Gardner’s every word. But that’s just not what happened on the ground: these were crowds asking intelligent questions and rejecting Gardner’s answers–not out of hand, but via their own understanding of the issues. They listened to Gardner. They heard what he was saying. They didn’t like it. And they said so.

That’s not “chaos.” That’s accountability. And it did not merit the arrogant response it received from the local peanut gallery. 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark, we’re talking to you. Shame on you for this uncharacteristic bout of offensive nonsense:

To quote Mr. Clark out of context, “that, of course, is completely not how America works.”

The much larger audiences who watched this play out yesterday in national media aren’t getting this silly local spin that Gardner was somehow a victim. All the nation saw yesterday was another Republican facing blowback at home over his votes in Washington. It wasn’t the first such incident in this August recess, and it won’t be the last. Not to mention that the response Gardner received yesterday, from the failure of Republicans to turn out in support to the withering fire from Democrats who did, is fully consistent with Gardner’s 24% approval rating in the polls.

What the huge difference between local and national coverage of yesterday’s town halls does show is that Gardner has very effective press staff–and our local media gets played like a fiddle by them over and over. The real “embarrassment” yesterday was a local press who were somehow persuaded to value politeness over their own stated principles–and left very real Coloradans who have been struggling to be heard by their U.S. Senator for months flapping in the breeze.

Those attendees should be proud. And their detractors yesterday should feel shame today.

What in the Hell is Donald Trump Doing?

President Trump speaks to the press on Tuesday in New York

On Monday President Trump condemned white supremacists — two days after deadly protests in Charlottesville, VA sparked international outrage.

Today, President Trump reversed course and tried to place equal blame on what he calls the “alt-left” for the violence in Virginia. As the New York Times reports:

In a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the president repeatedly rejected a torrent of bipartisan criticism for waiting several days before naming the right-wing groups and placing blame on “many sides” for the violence on Saturday that ended with the death of a young woman after a car crashed into a crowd.

He said that “before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

And he criticized “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Va., to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”

“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Mr. Trump said. “This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

He noted that the first American president had owned slaves.

Mr. Trump defended those gathered in the Charlottesville park to protest the statue’s removal, saying, “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

Uh….

Not long after Trump finished his remarks, this happened:

Yes, THAT David Duke.

CBO Report: Huge Premium Spikes if Trump Stops ACA Subsidies

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new analysis today of the impact on health insurance premiums should President Trump follow through with threats to stop funding federal subsidies for Obamacare. As CNBC reports:

Obamacare premiums for the most popular types of plans will sharply increase — by 20 percent next year, and by 25 percent in 2020 — if President Donald Trump ends key federal subsidies to the program, the Congressional Budget Office warned Tuesday in a new analysis.

The finding is certain to ratchet up pressure on Trump, and his Republican allies in Congress, to continue funding the payments to insurers, which reimburse them for discounts offered most Obamacare customers in their out-of-pocket health costs.

The CBO estimated there would be 1 million more Americans without health insurance next year than there are now as a result of such a decision by Trump to end the so-called cost-sharing reimbursements.

But, by 2020, there actually would be 1 million fewer uninsured Americans because of that decision, the report said.

On top of that, killing those payments to insurers would result in an extra $194 billion added to the federal deficit, the CBO report said

While less money would be spent on the CSR payments, the government as a result would be required to spend even more money to offset the spike in premiums borne by most Obamacare customers, CBO said.

Congressional Republican plans to repeal Obamacare have consistently been shot full of holes by the CBO in recent months, and this new analysis continues that trend.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 15)

That’s not the eclipse — you just forgot to take off your sunglasses. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► After more than a year of refusing to meet with his constituents in a solo town hall setting, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) today is holding three separate town hall events around the Front Range. We’re covering Gardner’s big day here, from his event in Colorado Springs this morning to Greeley and then Lakewood later today. So far, things have not gone so good for Gardner.

Gardner’s third and final town hall of the day today is at Colorado Christian University; event hosts say that public protests will not be permitted.

 

President Trump finally got around to condemning white supremacists with an awkward statement at the White House on Monday. Most observers saw Trump’s comments as “too little, too late” after the weekend bloodshed in Charlottesville, Virginia. For his part, Trump is ratcheting up his victimhood rhetoric and taking new shots at the media for not making him look good. As the New York Times reports:

Shortly before leaving the capital, Mr. Trump attacked the news media for blowing the episode out of proportion.

“Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!” he wrote Monday evening…

…Even Mr. Trump’s allies worried that his measured remarks, delivered two days after dozens of public figures issued more forceful denunciations of the violence in Virginia, came too late to reverse the self-inflicted damage on his moral standing as president.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump said the rioting was initiated by “many sides.” His comments prompted nearly universal criticism and spurred several of his top advisers, including his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to press the president to issue a more forceful rebuke.

It’s is possible probable that President Trump just does not possess the “empathy” gene.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Gardner’s Big Day Off To Very Rough Start

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS has from the final town hall in Lakewood:

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UPDATE: Round 2 live now from Greeley via KDVR:

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KRDO-TV reporting from the first of three public town halls going on today held by Sen. Cory Gardner at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs early this morning–where the short notice and crack-of-dawn start did not hold back a rowdy capacity crowd:

It was a rowdy crowd at Senator Cory Gardner’s town hall in Colorado Springs on Tuesday morning.

The Senator held a question and answer forum at the Pikes Peak Community College.

He addressed hot topics such as health care, the conflict with North Korea, and the controversial rally in Virginia over the weekend.

When the discussion of health care was first raised, Sen. Gardner was met with boos from the majority of the crowd…

Despite desperate pleas from El Paso County Republicans for Gardner supporters to turn out in force for this town hall, the crowd was overwhelmingly composed of residents upset about Gardner’s position on health care and his support for the Trump administration in general. But as the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, the crowd did back up Gardner with applause on a few items on which there was agreement:

Cory Gardner kicked off his day of three solo, in-person town halls across the state — his first such events in more than a year — by reiterating his disgust of white nationalist groups and their violent actions over the weekend in Virginia.

“I think it’s about time asses with Nazi flags go back to their hole,” Gardner said Tuesday to a round of applause.

But the support pretty much ended there.

Gardner won himself a few legitimate plaudits from the crowd for his pushback against President Donald Trump’s tepid condemnation of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia over the weekend. Unfortunately, Gardner completely undid that goodwill in a fumbled response to a question from Tom Sullivan, former state senate candidate and father of an Aurora theater shooting victim:

After thanking Gardner for calling out Trump, Sullivan requested what he saw as the next logical step–for Gardner to ask Trump to fire Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, three senior Trump administration officials who have been accused of white nationalist proclivities. Several House caucuses representing minority groups in Congress have asked for this as well, saying “Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence U.S. policy.” The clip above of Gardner’s flat refusal to even consider this seriously undermines the goodwill he earned over the weekend.

Overall this was a very difficult outing for Gardner, as he surely expected–after all, that’s why he has avoided unscripted engagement with his constituents for Trump’s entire presidency up to now. The video circulating today of Gardner getting pummeled by constituents, and inability to provide mollifying answers on the hard questions is part of the permanent record now. Yes, it was better for Gardner to take his lumps than to hide all the way through the August recess. But given the further harm Gardner’s responses today are likely to do to his image, it was always a choice between the lesser of two evils.

We’ll update from Gardner’s next two pummelings town halls in Greeley and Lakewood later today.

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