A surprisingly good story today from the Pueblo Chieftain's Pete Tucker draws GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner out once again on the issue of his longtime, recently-reversed support for the "Personhood" abortion ban ballot initiatives in Colorado. Much of this story is behind the Chieftain's paywall, but we strongly encourage a read if you have access. In today's story, conversation turns once again to Personhood, and Gardner tries…well, you tell us what the best term is to describe what Gardner tries to do here:
Udall’s recent advertisements have criticized Gardner’s position on the so-called “personhood amendment” and attacked him as a candidate who wants to outlaw birth control.
Gardner said both assertions are false. He said he doesn’t support the personhood amendment and said he does support women’s rights to birth control, calling the accusation “nonsense.” [Pols emphasis]
What Gardner's campaign wishes more than anything is that this conversation would stop right there. Gardner would prefer the statement that he "doesn't support Personhood" to end all discussion about this issue, except maybe with a brief segue into birth control so Gardner can burnish his "women's issue" credentials with his come-lately proposal to make the pill available over the counter.
But unfortunately, as Tucker continues, the conversation doesn't end there:
Udall’s campaign said Monday that its point is that Gardner remains a sponsor to the federal personhood amendment and that his reversal on a state law was one of political expedience. Gardner said he won’t respond in ads to Udall’s attacks, saying a tit-for-tat advertising war prevents him from focusing on his own message. He also said Udall can’t campaign on the economy or health care.
But Udall’s staff noted Gardner already has run an ad responding to the accusations over women’s issues.
In the ad, Gardner responds to the personhood issue, noting he reversed his decision on the state proposal, [Pols emphasis] then goes on to attack Udall’s support for Obamacare.
And folks, one more time–why did Gardner reverse his position on the Colorado Personhood ballot measures right after getting in the U.S. Senate race? Because he had apparently "just discovered" that Personhood could outlaw common forms of birth control! And why is his continued cosponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act a problem? Because it has the same language as Colorado's Personhood amendments!
If you're looking for the part of this story where Gardner says the perfect thing to defuse this obvious contradiction and comes out looking trustworthy…we're sorry to tell you, it doesn't exist. Gardner cannot truthfully reconcile his message on abortion with his stridently anti-choice record in politics, because it would be politically suicidal to do so. Gardner calls these attacks the product of a "tired playbook," but he has no defensive play–and every story that honestly explores the question makes that more glaringly obvious.
And when even a friendly newspaper like the Pueblo Chieftain can't hide that, he's got a problem.