WEDNESDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS has from the final town hall in Lakewood:
UPDATE: Round 2 live now from Greeley via KDVR:
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.