Gardner’s Annual Christmas Party Returns to the Brown Palace Tonight

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Cory Gardner has been hard to find in Colorado this year. This evening, however, he and his family will be at Denver’s historic Brown Palace for his annual Christmas Open Home party.

According to the invitation, Gardner says he’s looking forward to seeing his fellow Coloradans come out to show support for our Western Values and get into the holiday spirit.

The holiday gathering is officially hosted by Gardner’s political action committee, Project West PAC. The committee spent over $1.2 million during the last election, including $430,000 in direct contributions to federal candidates. Recipients included the other three Republican members of the Colorado delegation, and 44 of Gardner’s GOP colleagues in the U.S. Senate.

The PAC is managed by the Starboard Group, the fundraising firm of choice for Colorado Republicans. The Starboard Group team tweeted a picture of themselves from the party last year.

The photo included their intern at the time, right-wing social media personality, Ashley St. Clair, who earlier this year was dropped by Turning Point USA for partying with white nationalists.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Friday (December 6)


Saturday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day; Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags to be lowered to half staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow. 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Will President Trump and/or his attorneys participate in impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee? As The Washington Post reports, Trump has until 5:00 today to make that decision…but might choose to wait until the issue reaches the U.S. Senate:

A White House spokesman said Friday that Trump “welcomes” a trial in the Republican-led Senate and plans to bring forward “serious witnesses,” including the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), and Joe and Hunter Biden.

“If it goes there, he wants a trial,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said during an appearance on Fox News. “He welcomes it. He wants the American people to see the truth. . . . He absolutely wants to bring forward serious witnesses, like the whistleblower, like Adam Schiff, like Hunter and Joe Biden. It they’re going to do this, if the Democrats want this fight, it’s something the president is willing to have.”

“He welcomes it.” That seems like a bit of a stretch.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she had instructed her Democratic colleagues to begin preparing articles of impeachment. Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post wrote up one of those “here’s what officials on each side have to say” stories that doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.

 

 Former New York City Mayor and newly-minted Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was in Aurora on Thursday to discuss his plans for addressing gun violence in the United States. As the Associated Press reports, Bloomberg is “calling for a ban on all assault weapons, mandatory permits for gun purchasers and a new position in the White House to coordinate gun violence prevention.”

 

► At least four people are dead after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Kirk Widlund: The Nazi In 710 KNUS’ Closet?


Brought to our attention yesterday though it’s been out for a few days apparently–the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, yes that means “Antifa” but before you pass judgement understand that this particular group has successfully exposed more than one local-area neo-Nazi via straightforward online sleuthing methodology, including an Air Force master sergeant at Schreiver Air Force Base who was demoted based on the group’s exposure of his white nationalist organizing on the side, appears to have caught another one.

And this one’s on the radio, at a Denver right-wing talk radio station that’s been in the news lately:

Kirk Widlund is a Neo-Nazi and the host of the Keeping America Great podcast, as well as Executive Producer for the Steffan Tubbs ShowThe American Veteran’s ShowThe Craig Silverman Show, and Bird Talk, on the Denver conservative talk radio station 710 KNUS, owned by Salem Media. Kirk lives with his parents in Aurora and is a registered Republican. Additional information about Kirk Widlund can be found here.

Kirk fronts as a typical MAGA chud on air and on his publicly facing social media – he stans for Donald Trump, stands with ICE, condemns Black Lives Matter, all the typical conservative stuff.

Kirk’s posts take a slight turn to the right on the Russian social media website VK, which is a hotbed for Neo-Nazis as they don’t enforce hate speech violations…

So, um, yeah, Kirk Widlund’s VK content leaves little to speculate about.

KNUS host Steffan Tubbs, KNUS producer Kirk Widlund.

In the Colorado Springs Antifa blogpost you can follow how they tracked Kirk Widlund from a social media connection to a known local white nationalist by the name of Lucas Martin. A host of details including matching birthdates and comment threads between Martin and Widlund seems to indicate it’s the same Kirk Widlund currently employed as a producer at 710 KNUS–the same right-wing AM radio station that made national news a couple of weeks ago when they pulled the plug on host Craig Silverman in the middle of a segment of Silverman’s show criticizing President Donald Trump.

Before we go whole hog sounding the “Nazis on your AM dial” alarm, we do want to see this information confirmed, which we expect can be done easily and will be done shortly–we’ll update when we see that. But if this is right, and this source’s track record gives them undeniable credibility, talk radio in this town has taken an even nastier turn than anybody imagined.

Stay tuned–to us, not them.

Friday Open Thread


“There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”

–Winston Churchill

Warren Campaign Deploys To Colorado


A press release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign today announces the hire of a state director for Colorado and field offices set to open:

Today, Warren for President announced that PaaWee Rivera will serve as Colorado State Director for the campaign.

Rivera is a longtime political operative with extensive electoral organizing and community engagement experience. Prior to being named Colorado State Director, Rivera served as the Western States Desk based out of the Warren campaign’s Boston headquarters. Rivera served as a Special Advisor to Warren’s 2018 Senate re-election campaign. Previously, Rivera worked on the 2016 coordinated campaign based out of Florida and worked in a number of roles at the DNC.

Rivera is originally from New Mexico and is a Tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Pojoaque. He has been on the ground since September 2019.

The campaign plans to open a series of offices across Colorado later this month, including in Denver and Boulder…

Warren has earned endorsements from a host of key Colorado leaders, including State Senators Kerry Donovan, Faith Winter, and Mike Foote, along with State Representatives Dominique Jackson and Chris Kennedy.

The latest Real Clear Politics polling average of the Democratic presidential primary shows a continuing three-way race for the nomination, with former veep Joe Biden the candidate to beat and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren battling for the role of the “Biden alternative.” Sanders and Warren are extremely close in the RCP average, separated by just over one statistically insignificant percentage point. Sanders easily won the Democratic caucus in Colorado in 2016, but in the 2020 Super Tuesday presidential primary it’s anybody’s game according to the polls–and it’s states like ours the “Biden alternative” will be counting on.

March 3, 2020 is coming fast.

Silly Ethics Complaint Reaches New Level of Ridiculousness


Tweet via Denver Post reporter Justin Wingerter.

As we noted last month, a still-pending ethics complaint targeting former Gov. John Hickenlooper is a complete and total nothingburger. But don’t take our word for it…and don’t rely on the opinion of the The Denver Post’s editorial board, either. Just take a look at what happened today when the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission gathered once more to discuss the matter.

As Alex Burness writes for The Denver Post, today was another meeting about possibly scheduling another meeting:

A hearing on the pending ethics complaint concerning former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s travel on private planes might not take place until after Democrats’ caucus to select candidates for the U.S. Senate race.

Hickenlooper, who’s running for the seat, has filed motions to dismiss the allegations, as he and his team continue to characterize them as politically motivated. Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission, however, didn’t rule on those motions at Thursday’s meeting — the first since the group’s November release of a report on the complaint.

Instead, members tentatively set the hearing for March 17, though staff promised to try to find an earlier date that works…

…Hickenlooper’s attorney, Mark Grueskin, pushed for an earlier resolution, but the commission’s staffer advised that January is too soon for a hearing and that he has been unable to find an available conference room for the commission’s scheduled February meeting. [Pols emphasis]

“As we’ve said before, the most sensational accusations [in this complaint] are easy to dismiss.”

— Denver Post editorial (November 9, 2019)

This ethics complaint against Hickenlooper was filed in October 2018 by a newly-formed group called the Public Trust Institute, which is helmed by former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty. The crux of McNulty’s argument surrounds a handful of trips that Hickenlooper took before he finished his second term as Colorado’s Governor in January 2019. As The Denver Post has previously pointed out, there’s not much here that would be of any concern to, well, anyone.

Today’s hearing of the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) all but confirmed that belief. If this complaint was really about a serious ethics violation, as Republicans would have you believe, then surely someone would be able to locate an available conference room before March 2020.

Of course, the entire point of this complaint was never about addressing serious ethical concerns. The goal here was always to harm Hickenlooper’s political fortunes, whether that entailed his brief run for President or his current campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

With that in mind, McNulty’s “Public Trust Institute” probably doesn’t mind that this case faces another 3-4 months of limbo for Hickenlooper. McNulty’s plan was to throw a bunch of crap at the wall in hopes of generating some sort of news headline that could fit into a negative advertisement against Hickenlooper — which is precisely what happened earlier this week. Whatever else happens from this point forward — and we’re not holding our breath that anything will happen — is just gravy for Republicans.

This story has gone on for too long already. Now, about that conference room shortage…

33% Approval: Another Poll Shows Gardner Circling Drain


Sen. Cory Gardner literally standing behind President Donald Trump.

Healthcare advocacy nonprofit Healthier Colorado released a new poll yesterday conducted by Keating Research, principally focused on concerns voters have related to the group’s eponymous mission:

A majority of Coloradans are concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, and prefer a public option to enroll in Medicare or Medicare for All over the current system, according to a statewide survey by Healthier Colorado, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of all residents throughout our state’s diverse communities.

The poll was conducted November 6-9, 2019, among a sample of 650 active voters, with an oversample in West Slope counties. Roughly half of voters surveyed (45%) said the cost of healthcare is unaffordable, while an overwhelming majority (82%) believe the cost of prescription drugs and medication is too high. When presented with the option to keep the current system in which health insurance is purchased through one’s employer or privately, or move to a public option or Medicare for All, only one-third of voters prefer to keep the current system. The other two-thirds were evenly split between wanting a public option and Medicare for All.

Useful information for the upcoming debate in the Colorado legislature beginning next month on a proposed public option coverage plan. But at the bottom of the release announcing this poll, right before the link to the full results at Keating, our readers will find the question we’re most interested in today, with all due respect to Healthier Colorado:

Overall, a majority of Coloradans (52%) believe Colorado is headed in the right direction. When asked about elected officials running for election in 2020, only 37% have a favorable view of President Donald Trump, while 60% view him unfavorably. Senator Cory Gardner, currently running for his second term fares less favorably, with 33% favorable, 45% unfavorable. [Pols emphasis]

If this poll is accurate, Sen. Cory Gardner is not just America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™. Gardner is in a downward spiral that there may well be no coming back from. This is the second poll this fall showing Gardner’s approval rating below 35%, several percentage points short of President Donald Trump’s own dismal 37% approval in Colorado and 12 points south of Gardner’s 45% unfavorable rating, clearly reflecting Gardner’s weakness among base Republicans–in addition to the state’s compounding wholesale rejection of Republican candidates that accelerated in last year’s historic Colorado Democratic landslide.

It’s hard to imagine Gardner losing the general election next November by the margin a 33% approval rating suggests, not least because many of those disaffected Republican voters are sure to hold their noses and vote–but to call these numbers bad news for Gardner’s re-election prospects is a considerable understatement.

While we can’t pronounce Cory Gardner a political dead man walking on the strength of one poll, these numbers are undeniably what that looks like.

Everybody Does Impeachable Things, Says Ken Buck


You’ll never catch me, logic!

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the Colorado Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa), has been struggling to come up with a coherent and consistent defense of President Trump in the face of mounting evidence for Trump’s impeachment. While Buck has been critical of the impeachment process and protective of President Trump, he also hasn’t bothered to actually attend most of the impeachment hearings to which he has been invited. After listening to Buck question witnesses on the first day of impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, it’s fair to argue that both he and Trump would have been better served in Buck’s absence.

In recent months Buck has offered various explanations for excusing Trump; he’s even been a public proponent of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” which tries to excuse President Trump of wrongdoing based on the idea that his attempted bribery of Ukraine’s President didn’t work as intended. This is a particularly absurd defense from Buck; as a former prosecutor, he knows damn well that “attempted” robbery and “attempted” murder are criminal matters regardless of the outcome of the offense.

Buck took a different approach in his Trump defense on Wednesday, arguing that EVERY President — other than William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days into his first term in the White House — has committed what House Democrats would call an impeachable offense.

“The other three witnesses have identified this amorphous standard for impeaching a President,” said Buck in addressing Professor Jonathan Turley, the Republican-called legal/constitutional expert (CLICK HERE for the full clip of Buck’s ranting). Buck then listed off numerous “impeachable” offenses committed by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. It was as if to say, Who among us hasn’t committed an impeachable offense?

Buck concluded with this perplexing high-horsed statement:

Now isn’t the difference, Professor Turley, that some people live in an ivory tower, and some people live in a swamp, and those of us that are in the swamp are doing our very best for the American people, but it’s not pretty.

Turley responded with an attempted joke about living in an ivory tower within a swamp. Immediately following this exchange, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) began her time at the microphone by saying, “I don’t believe the people’s house is a swamp.”

Social media users were equally perplexed with Buck’s line of questioning:

Fortunately for Buck and Trump, the Greeley Congressman wasn’t quite the disaster that he was when he was questioning Robert Mueller last summer. Instead of countering his own argument — which is what happened last July — Buck followed the script of his own version of a Chewbacca Defense.

To paraphrase the debate moderator character from the movie “Billy Madison,” everyone is now dumber for having listened to Ken Buck.

So You “Won’t Comply” With The Red Flag Law, Will You?


This Saturday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, a “We Will Not Comply” rally is scheduled to be hosted by pro-gun activists and Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, “to stand against Colorado’s dangerous & unconstitutional RED FLAG LAW (emphasis theirs) before it goes into effect January 2020.” Pro-gun rallies at the state capitol are common enough (and sparsely-attended enough) that they generally don’t warrant a mention, but with the new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) or “red flag” law set to take effect in Colorado at the beginning of January, Saturday’s rally does have some added significance.

Notably, the event does not have listed as any of its scheduled speakers as of this writing one of the state’s elected county sheriffs who have controversially declared their intent to ignore the ERPO law when it takes effect next month, which could expose those officials to sanctions including contempt of court in addition to allowing potentially disastrous public safety risks with both political and human costs. Colorado is not the only state with a red flag law, but the open defiance of a few local officials here has been a distinguishing feature of the debate.

And that got us to thinking: what exactly does it mean for individual citizens to declare they “will not comply” with the ERPO law? Does this mean they would not utilize the law to prevent a family member from harming themselves? Does it mean they would they not surrender their own guns if ordered to do so via an ERPO? Are they suggesting persons subject to an ERPO should…resist? The legal questions and liabilities are different from those faced by law enforcement, but with the ERPO law about to take effect it’s time to have a sober conversation about what this kind of rhetoric actually translates to in the real world.

Because in a few weeks this law, supported overwhelmingly by the public in every poll, is going to be real.

We predict that a good deal of the rhetoric against the law in the past year will not age well.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 4)


Today is “National Cookie Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s 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 an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House Judiciary Committee today began its role in impeachment hearings by hearing testimony from prominent legal experts as to whether evidence unearthed thus far constitutes impeachable conduct by President Trump. Today’s hearings come one day after the House Intelligence Committee released a thorough report on findings from weeks of impeachment hearings and investigations. From The Washington Post:

“Ultimately the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman testified. “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship.”

The questioning had the air of an introductory constitutional law class focused on impeachment – including a featured chart listing the A, the B, and the C of high crimes and misdemeanors: Abuse of Power, Betrayal of National Interest, and Corruption of Elections.

House Democrats’ committee counsel Norm Eisen asked the law professors to explain whether it was necessary for Trump to have committed a statutory crime to be impeached. University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt said no. The scale of Trump’s obstruction was an abuse, he stressed, because it “torpedoes” the separation of powers in the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” he said.

One of the more dramatic moments in early testimony came after Republican Rep. Doug Collins questioned the knowledge and preparation of the legal experts testifying today. Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan was incensed at the suggestion:

“That everything I know about our Constitution and its values and my review of the evidentiary record and here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are both members of the House Judiciary Committee and were in attendance this morning…though Buck must have had something more important to do later:

It was revealed last week that Buck, who also serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, blew off most of the prior impeachment hearings that he was invited to attend as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

 

President Trump is making a fool of himself and the United States at the NATO summit in London, and foreign leaders are having a hard time ignoring the circus. As CNN explains:

After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.

“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.

As The Washington Post adds, Trump was clearly stung by the reaction of his counterparts:

Trump was later caught on an audio recording bragging to an unidentified summit attendee, “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”

CLICK HERE to watch the video of foreign leaders expressing exasperation with Trump during a conversation at Buckingham Palace.

 

► North Korea is making vague threats toward the United States about expecting a “Christmas Gift” in the upcoming weeks. From CNN:

The ominous comments, which some have interpreted as a sign that North Korea could resume long-distance missile tests, comes as the clock ticks closer to the country’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Talks between the two sides have appeared to be in a rut in recent months, with North Korea conducting several shorter-range missile tests.

In a statement translated on the state news agency, Ri Thae Song, a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry working on US affairs, accused US policy makers of leveraging talks with Kim Jong Un for domestic political gain.

“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” Ri said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get,” added Ri.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the self-professed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea, STILL hasn’t said a public word about this or anything related to strained U.S. relations with South Korea.

Gardner also won’t comment on Trump’s claims of election interference by Ukraine, but he will still say that Russia should be labeled a “state sponsor of terror.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

The Free World Laughs At Donald Trump


The Independent (UK) reports:

Donald Trump has reacted furiously to footage of world leaders apparently making fun of him, calling Justin Trudeau “two-faced” then cancelling a press conference and cutting short his attendance at a Nato summit.

The US president was asked whether he had seen the clip in which his international counterparts appeared to joke about his explosive press conference with Emmanuel Macron, and his erratic diplomatic style, at Tuesday night’s Buckingham Palace reception.

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor!” Mr Trudeau apparently said of Mr Trump while speaking with Boris Johnson, Mr Macron, Mark Rutte and Princess Anne.

The entire conversation between these leaders and NATO allies isn’t audible, so we don’t know as of now what the context of this particular snippet was, and what exactly made Team Trump’s “jaws drop to the floor.”

But like the rest of the civilized world, we most certainly know the feeling.

Colo GOP Offers Workshop with Pence Nephew, who ‘Manufactured’ Trump Rallies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The political operative who orchestrates Trump’s political rallies, which are seen as both as hate-filled and wildly successful, is conducting a training for fellow Republicans in Colorado on Saturday.

The Trump Victory Leadership Initiative is running the workshop at the conservative Independence Institute Saturday, featuring John Pence, a senior adviser for President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

John Pence is the nephew of Vice President Mike Pence and the son of Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN).

John Pence is “particularly responsible” for having “orchestrated and manufactured” campaign tactics to “stoke fear in this country,” said former White House aide and Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault in a July interview on MSNBC.

“I had to attend many of these rallies when I worked on the campaign and even in the White House,” continued Manigault. “There are these section leaders who start the chant, control how long the chants go and quiet them down when they want to. … “In fact, you’ll be surprised to learn that Vice President Pence’s nephew, John Pence, is one of the big coordinators of these rallies. And so this is how closely these rallies are coordinated with also what’s going on in the White House. John Pence is a very big key player in the campaign, but he’s particularly responsible for all of the staging and choreography of the campaigns and, yes, they are very much orchestrated and manufactured to get the outcome that we saw from Donald Trump saying ‘go back to your countries that you came from and if you don’t love it, leave it.’ All of that is coordinated and manufactured to stoke fear in this country.”

The Colorado Republican Party, listed as a contact for the Pence event, did not return an email asking for specifics on the tactics Pence will teach at the workshop.

The online invitation to Saturday’s training, which is free, states that John Pence “works closely with The White House’s Office of Political Affairs and the RNC to organize the President’s political activities and grassroots recruitment initiatives.”

“We can turn Colorado Red in 2020, but only if we work together and ensure all Trump supporters are registered to vote. That’s why we need your help,” states the invitation.

Wednesday Open Thread


“The point–the power to hurt–of all figures lies in the truthfulness of their application.”

–Abraham Lincoln

Cory Gardner Jokes He’s Mad at his Ancestors For Settling in Yuma Rather Than Aspen

(Trading in that Carhartt for Columbia – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A favorite Republican meme, “the war on rural Colorado,” was jokingly stoked by an unlikely source today: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

For as long as he’s been in politics, Gardner has cultivated his image as a farm boy from the plains. In speeches and ads, he paints himself as a champion of rural Coloradans, fighting against the elite liberals flocking to the state’s cities and mountain towns.

Yet on an informal podcast with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (which he chaired from 2016-18), Gardner said he was “a little mad at his ancestors” for settling in Yuma rather than pushing on to the Rockies.

“Look I’m a little mad at my ancestors. I mean, we live out by the Kansas border, you know, three more weeks in a covered wagon and they could’ve been in Aspen. I mean, I don’t know happened.”

 

The comment was clearly lighthearted, as was the rest of the interview, with the NRSC hosts asking him about casual topics ranging from Star Wars movies to Gardner’s impressive Mitch McConnell impression.

That said, Gardner raised the issue of preferring swanky Aspen to humble Yuma. His comment is notable precisely because Republicans have pushed this “war on rural Colorado” frame for years without a trace of humor. Gardner himself has talked about it extensively, from lamenting the divide in a 2017 interview with The Denver Post to attacking “big-city politicians” who “want to leave rural America behind” in his speech to this year’s Western Conservative Summit.

They take it so seriously in fact, that in 2013, when several counties, including Yuma, voted on whether or not to secede from the state of Colorado, Gardner refused to say how he voted on the issue.

Was he joking today? Sure. But thanks to years of relentlessly pushing a message of rural-urban division in his own state, he should be surprised if some of his constituents think this is no laughing matter.

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