Yesterday morning, Sen. Cory Gardner appeared on Face the Nation in an attempt to put some kind of happy face on the unfolding disaster of President Donald Trump’s rejection of the latest bipartisan immigration deal–to which both Colorado Senators are party, but now in mortal danger after Trump denounced the agreement in formerly-unprintable terms.
What does Sen. Gardner think about Trump making the discourse safe for “shithole,” you ask?
SENATOR CORY GARDNER: You know, I wasn’t in that meeting with the president. I was in the previous meeting earlier this week, where we talked about- last week, on Tuesday, where we talked about putting a deal together that reflected the four priorities of the president. And I think that we can do this…
So, I think we’re- we-we put together a very responsible plan and I hope that we can build on that. But look, it’s- it’s unbecoming comments, and I hope that we can move beyond that. And I hope that what we see are Republicans and Democrats coming together, not to fight politics, but to actually come up with a solution to address this challenge before us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Do you think just- this word obviously rocketed around this week. It’s also obviously now an international point of conversation. If Senator Cotton is right and Senator Perdue is right, and Senator Durbin made this up, that’s a pretty extraordinary thing. You’ve now got people in the president’s own party saying it’s a racist comment. If-if another senator makes up something that causes people to come to that judgment, that’s a pretty serious thing.
SENATOR CORY GARDNER: Well, look, I’m not going to get into the- the who-said-what-said, [Pols emphasis] but what was reported is unacceptable. But what we have to do is not let that define this moment. Look, we have a very, very serious challenge in front of us. It’s a challenge that the president laid out very clearly this past week.
Given that the central point in the controversy raging around this question today is what President Donald Trump said, it seems like there’s no choice but to “get into” that. What we have here is yet another opportunity for Sen. Gardner to call out the President over something that could not be more unambiguously wrong, and Gardner refusing to do it. He’s not denying that the comments were made, he even calls them “unbecoming”–Gardner just refuses to “get into” discussing them.
A clue as to why could be in Gardner’s choice of words describing the immigration deal he brokered and Trump has now rejected. The “priorities of the president.” The “challenge that the President laid out clearly.” Not only is Gardner avoiding the unsavory part of this story that has attracted the most attention, he’s trying to characterize a deal that Trump has rejected–using the racist language Gardner does not want to acknowledge–as something Trump wants.
We understand Gardner is obliged to say something, but this is just back-breaking contortion.