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.
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.