Don’t Believe The Hype: Cory Gardner Did This To Himself

Donald Trump and Cory Gardner embrace voluntarily in Colorado Springs, February 20, 2020.

We’re 17 days out from the 2020 general election, and in Colorado certain inevitabilities are beginning to come into focus. Driven by unprecedented early turnout overwhelmingly led by Democratic and what’s assumed to be left-voting unaffiliated voters, an historic landslide election is shaping up for Colorado Democrats once again–with a strong possibility of further growing already historic majorities won in the 2018 midterms.

With Joe Biden polling as high as 14 points ahead of Donald Trump in Colorado, and by all expectations very little ticket-splitting expected from Colorado voters in 2020, it’s easy to make excuses for the impending doom surrounding the campaign of Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, down by a least 10 points in every recent poll. And as we saw first yesterday in a story from the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter, the pre-post-mortem spin of Gardner’s fate by Republicans is already underway:

“My perception is that Cory and his allies have together bought a huge amount of television time. At some point, does another $100,000 make any difference? I’m not sure it does,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado Republican Party chair who has managed successful U.S. Senate campaigns.

“Cory’s problem is not that he does not have enough money in his account or that there’s not enough spending on that side. Cory’s biggest problem right now is the national political environment, and that has been driven by President Trump’s numbers against Joe Biden,” Wadhams said. “I’m not sure any money can offset that right now.”

CBS4 Denver echoed this scripted pre-buttal to defeat from former Colorado GOP chairman and longtime Republican campaign manager Dick Wadhams, who whatever else you can say about the man knows what losing looks and feels like:

“There still is a great deal of enthusiasm among Republicans for the president and Cory Gardner but I’m not going to to kid you or anybody else, Trump is a liability to Cory Gardner.” [Pols emphasis]

“It comes under the heading of life isn’t fair and neither is politics. Cory has run a magnificent campaign, he’s probably one of the best candidates we’ve ever fielded for statewide office in decades. John Hickenlooper, in my opinion, has been a miserable candidate with a campaign to match. Yet he might win this race solely because of the national political winds.”

“That’s just the brutal reality. I think Mike [Dino] and I have both been in politics long enough to know that sometimes there are factors beyond your control. In this case, that’s the case with Cory.”

This is a tempting story for Colorado Republicans to internalize, though they won’t be able to fully accept it until after Trump’s expected defeat in two and a half weeks. Cory Gardner wasn’t beaten on the merits, they’ll say, he was washed away in a wave against Trump from which no Republican was fully spared. It’s not that the voters rejected Cory Gardner, they’ll say, or Republican legislators who lose their seats with him. “National political winds” sealed the fate of these poor innocent bystanders.

And it’s completely wrong. Republicans seeking to blame losses in 2020 on “national political winds” are ignoring the extent which the GOP was rejected all the way down the ballot by Colorado voters in both 2016 and 2018. Every election in Colorado since Gardner’s narrow victory in 2014 has resulted in big losses for Republicans at all levels, including in 2016 when Trump lost Colorado–albeit by a smaller margin than the polls show Trump losing in 2020. As for John Hickenlooper’s supposed “weakness” as a candidate and Gardner’s “magnificent campaign,” it’s just a silly fictionalization of actual events. Republicans invested basically their entire campaign against Hickenlooper in Frank McNulty’s wildly overhyped ethics complaint, while Gardner became a national symbol of Republicans’ willful refusal to acknowledge Trump’s failed presidency. Gardner was considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republican Senators up in 2020 all the way back in January of 2019, when polls showed him losing by a wide margin to a generic Democrat.

We’ve sometimes wondered whether Colorado’s U.S. Senate race would look different if Gardner had taken a different path after Trump’s election, the path he started down when he declared “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” and called for Trump to pull out of the race in October of 2016. The final abandonment of this once-honorable position for Gardner in last Tuesday’s debate, when Gardner said Trump is an “ethical and moral man” without ever reconciling this with this previous words.

Obviously had Hillary Clinton prevailed in 2016 as Gardner and everyone else expected, this year’s elections would look different. But if Gardner had approached Trump’s victory with the wariness of fellow GOP Sens. John McCain, Ben Sasse, and later Mitt Romney among other examples he served with in the U.S. Senate, would Gardner be losing by the double-digit margin he is today? The answer is maybe not. But when you consider other issues like the Affordable Care Act, which Gardner vilified throughout his career in federal office and now polls better than at any time in its history, or abortion, the issue Gardner was able to gum to death in 2014 but now looms large before an expected 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, there’s just no reason to believe Gardner would be winning this essentially blue state today no matter how he had dealt with Trump. And that’s before you factor in what the proselytized GOP base does to Republicans who stray from the MAGA party line.

From Obamacare to embracing Trump to the treachery Gardner joined in against Merrick Garland, Cory Gardner made conscious choices that led to the electoral abyss. Gardner didn’t have to morph shamelessly from one of Trump’s harshest critics to closest allies. Likewise, Colorado Republicans as a whole didn’t have to lurch out of the mainstream under Patrick Neville and Ken Buck. If Colorado Republicans take the easy way out of reckoning their losses in 2020 from Cory Gardner on down, blaming externalities instead of looking inward, they are setting the stage to become a permanent minority.

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It’s Official: Cory Gardner’s Plug Is Being Pulled

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-ekt).

At the end stage of any once-contested political campaign whose outcome has become clear as the season wore on, always a watched-for indicator of fateful decisions being made behind the scenes, is the curtailment of spending in races that national strategists in either party have written off as unwinnable. In races that stay close down to the wire, this may never happen–in 2014, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez kept their races sufficiently close to retain national support more or less all the way through to Election Day. In other cases, such as Andrew Romanoff’s losing bid against then-Rep. Mike Coffman that same year, the pullout of national resources from the race was a very public death knell.

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports today, the bell now tolls for Sen. Cory Gardner–as his re-election bid against the headwinds of Colorado’s leftward political trend since 2014 and the disaster of Donald Trump’s presidency comes apart in the final weeks:

Faced with a consistent stream of polls showing U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner headed for a loss next month, national Republican groups are spending far less in Colorado than in other battleground states this fall.

“There is no reason for either side to put another dime into this state. It’s over,” [Pols emphasis] said David Flaherty, a Republican pollster in Colorado who predicts “historic” losses for his party Nov. 3…

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Gardner led two years ago, has spent $145,000 in Colorado in the first half of October, according to a Denver Post review of campaign finance filings through Wednesday. That is far less than in the other five states the NRSC has focused on: Iowa ($3.2 million), Michigan ($3.2 million), Montana ($2.2 million), Maine ($2.2 million) and Arizona ($1.7 million).

We’ve taken note as large media buys by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and key Republican Senate leadership PACs have notably either excluded Colorado or been made in far smaller amounts than spending elsewhere, even in considerably less expensive media markets. After Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper posted a record-shattering $22 million take for the third quarter, Gardner responded yesterday with a Q3 total take of under $8 million–which admittedly would have been a record itself were it not less than half what Hickenlooper brought in.

A combination of factors made this decision by Republicans to cut Gardner loose inevitable: stabilization of polling in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race at a double digit lead for Hickenlooper, the increasingly lopsided fundraising disparity in the race, and above all an urgent need to defend Republicans in a growing number of states as the defeat Trump is about to gift the Republican Party on his own way out starts to look more like an historic rout. It’s simple arithmetic based on the electorates in these other states: when Republicans are fighting to save Joni Ernst in Iowa and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, it means Cory Gardner in Colorado is already done.

Even Dick Wadhams, former Colorado GOP chairman and longtime “itinerant political hitman” who has weighed in forcefully on Gardner’s behalf this election season, conceded the bleak reality to Wingerter in this story:

“Cory’s problem is not that he does not have enough money in his account or that there’s not enough spending on that side. Cory’s biggest problem right now is the national political environment, and that has been driven by President Trump’s numbers against Joe Biden,” Wadhams said. “I’m not sure any money can offset that right now.” [Pols emphasis]

We told you it was coming, folks. To quote the President of the United States, “it is what it is.”

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Throwback Thursday: Laura Carno Reckons With Donald Trump

Boebert for Congress communications director Laura Carno.

We’ve had plenty of opportunities this election season to revisit the moment four years ago when Sen. Cory Gardner showed intraparty courage not seen before or since: when he declared “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” and vowed to write-in Mike Pence for President of Donald Trump did not withdraw from the 2016 presidential race.

Gardner was certainly not alone in washing his hands of Trump in 2016, as Colorado Republicans high and low made the transition from subverting the state assembly in favor of Ted Cruz to falling in line behind their undesired nominee–and then investing their futures in the unlikely President-elect once he prevailed against the odds. Back in May of 2016, as it became clear that Trump was headed to inevitability as the GOP nominee, local Republican operative Laura Carno, now the semi-pro mouthpiece of GOP congressional candidate Lauren Boebert, was very frank about the unpleasant choice before her:

[T]he two frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have record negative poll numbers among primary voters and among general election voters. The President we wish we had is never coming. [Pols emphasis] So what is a responsible registered voter to do?

The solution, said Carno in 2016?

…Do whatever you need to do at the top of the ticket. [Pols emphasis] Then look at what you can do to provide a check and balance to the next occupant the Oval Office, regardless of who that is. The President is one person —a powerful person— but just one person. There is much more you can do.

Something tells us this is not the advice being given by the Boebert for Congress campaign today! Boebert is running almost entirely as a MAGA placeholder, and mutual admiration with Trump is what largely substitutes for Boebert’s qualifications–that, and the cloying infatuation of a certain editorial board editor. If you’re voting for Lauren Boebert, we’re willing to guess that 99 out of 100 of you are also voting for Trump. And means you aren’t looking for Boebert to provide any kind of “check and balance,” unless a disaster far greater befalls the Republican ticket.

Past disdain for the leader they must now follow to the bitter end is a skeleton lots of local Republicans have in their closet (see: Gardner, Cory). Each will sort their own way through it on the morning after, some having paid the highest political price.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 15)

Happy “National Grouch Day.” Now piss off. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► If it weren’t so critical, it would be almost comical to watch Republicans blunder around on talks for a much-needed coronavirus stimulus bill. As The Washington Post explains:

President Trump called Thursday for even more stimulus spending than the $1.8 trillion proposed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, injecting yet more chaos into the unruly negotiations as the election nears.

“I would take more. I would go higher,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network, repeating his directive from earlier in the week to “Go big or go home!!!

Trump said he’s communicated his views to Mnuchin.

“I’ve told him. So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon,” the president said…

Mnuchin and Pelosi (D-Calif.) have negotiated for days even though Trump keeps changing what he is willing to offer, often in Twitter posts or media interviews. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, is distancing himself and Republican senators from the White House’s rapidly growing spending package and attempting to advance a smaller-scale, $500 billion plan next week. [Pols emphasis]

These are your leaders, America.

 

As The Fort Collins Coloradoan explains, Gov. Jared Polis is warning Coloradans that we could be in for another big COVID-19 wave:

The number of people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 was at 290 on Tuesday, the highest it’s been since May.

And the state has seen an increase in cases, while the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 has risen above 5% for the first time since early August.

“We need to get this under control. Now,” Polis said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve got to get these numbers down, and if this trend continues, our hospital capacity will be in jeopardy. This is a critical juncture … We have to be able to get this under control before the Thanksgiving and holiday season.”

Polis warned that COVID-related hospitalizations in Colorado have doubled since the same time last month. As The Denver Post reports, Colorado has more active COVID cases today than at any time since the pandemic began.

 

Another new poll shows that the top ticket races in Colorado are pretty well baked at this point:

The Durango Herald endorses Democrat John Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate, calling Hick the clear choice in a race with health care issues at the top of the list for most voters:

On the most significant issue facing Americans, access to properly priced health insurance and medical care, Senate candidate John Hickenlooper easily deserves support. Hickenlooper is not a Medicare for All proponent, but we hear him say that the answers to coverage and delivery lie in an improved Affordable Care Act.

Incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, on the other hand, clings to longtime notions of the cure lying with cross-state line and common employment plans and medical savings accounts. Those ingredients, which would have been somewhat helpful in pre-ACA days, would fail to bring the breadth and depth needed to give Americans the coverage and bill paying they deserve…

…Adding another Democrat to that party’s side of the aisle in Washington would help break the current Senate logjam, which is desirable. Hickenlooper would be helpful by envisioning the future and bringing his penchant for applying negotiations and moderate positions that made him good for Colorado. We endorse John Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate.

 

► Americans are voting in record numbers already. We’re seeing a similar story play out here in Colorado.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Cory Gardner Says Trump Is a Moral and Ethical Man

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has consistently trailed Democrat John Hickenlooper in both polling and fundraising in their race for the U.S. Senate. Tonight, both candidates squared off in the final debate of the Colorado Senate race, and near the end of the hour-long discussion, Gardner stuck a stake in his own heart:

Gardner had just finished talking about how he believes that Hickenlooper is not an ethical person, but he just couldn’t do it when the question came up about President Trump. Colorado voters DO NOT approve of Trump, who is trailing Democrat Joe Biden in Colorado by 14 points.

This wasn’t the moment that Cory Gardner lost the 2020 Senate race, but it certainly ends any lingering hope he might have had of making a comeback. Gardner is done.

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Americans Love Them Some Early Voting

Ballots in Colorado hit mailboxes last weekend, and while it’s too early to look at ballot return numbers in our state, anecdotally we’re hearing that plenty of people have already submitted their votes for 2020. Colorado has been voting mostly by mail since 2014, so early voting isn’t a new phenomenon. But around the country, there are more early voting options than ever before, and people are taking advantage of the opportunity.

As the website U.S. Elections Project reports, nearly 12 million Americans have already cast ballots in 2020. It’s difficult to compare early voting in 2020 to any other year, primarily since no other election cycle had a COVID-19 problem, but we can logically assume that this is a very big deal. Here’s how these numbers compare to previous election cycles:

If you dig deeper into the 2020 early voting numbers, you find that voters in seven states (MN, NJ, SD, VA, VT, WI, and WY) have already cast more than 20% of their state’s total votes compared to 2016. Voters in Florida and North Dakota are knocking on that door, having cast more than 18% of total ballots compared to 2016. Voters are also shattering records for early turnout in states like Georgia and Texas.

Political observers have long predicted that 2020 will shatter the record for voter turnout in the United States. With three weeks to go until Election Day, it’s a good bet that Americans will surpass the 139 million ballots that set a record in 2016.

This is almost certainly not good news for Republicans; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is already sounding the alarm about a potential “bloodbath” for the GOP in 2020.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 13)

If you are a voter in Colorado, you might already have a ballot in your mailbox; check GoVoteColorado.com for more information. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► Just look at the picture that accompanies this New York Times story for a glimpse into the shitshow that is the SCOTUS confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate.

This looks totally safe (via New York Times)

As POLITICO reports, SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is avoiding questions from Democrats about abortion and Obamacare.

 

As The Washington Post reports, the domestic terrorist group accused in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer apparently also had their sights on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam:

During the hearing in Grand Rapids, Mich., to discuss the charges filed last week against members of a self-proclaimed militia accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor, FBI Special Agent Richard Trask revealed that months ago some of the suspects met in Dublin, Ohio, where Northam, also a Democrat, was discussed as a potential target.

“At this meeting they discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governors of Michigan and Virginia, based upon the lockdown orders,” Trask told the court, referring to state-mandated restrictions implemented to combat the spread of coronavirus.

 

Another new poll shows big leads for Democrats at the top of the ticket in Colorado. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden is up 14 points on President Trump, while Democrat John Hickenlooper holds a 10 point lead over incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). These numbers are fairly consistent with polling data that has been released since the June 30 Primary Election in Colorado.

 

► The fourth and final U.S. Senate debate takes place tonight in Ft. Collins. Scheduled for a 6:00 pm start, tonight’s debate is moderated by 9News’ political duo of Kyle Clark and Marshall Zelinger. The debate is sponsored by 9News, the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Colorado Politics, Rocky Mountain PBS, KRDO in Colorado Springs, KJCT and KKCO in Grand Junction and KOBF in the Four Corners.

It will be interesting to see if Sen. Cory Gardner tries to cut back on a speaking pace that is more auctioneer than real person. Tonight’s debate may also be Gardner’s last chance to attempt to live up to this infamous ad from 2014:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Morning Consult: Hick +10, Biden +14 in Colorado

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter relays the latest numbers from Morning Consult, showing Democratic candidates consolidating double-digit leads in the two ticket-topping races in Colorado:

Cory Gardner looks at his poll numbers.

Here’s the poll details. Comparing these numbers to Morning Consult’s poll of Colorado at the end of July, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is stable having held a 13-point lead over Donald Trump then and over 50% then and now–but Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper’s support has grown more substantially, elevating him from a 6 to a 10 point lead. For Cory Gardner, it’s very clear from these numbers that the momentum from then to now has not moved in his direction.

The six-point lead Hickenlooper saw at the end of July, and another outlier Morning Consult poll in September showing the race as close as two points, were cited as evidence that the U.S. Senate race in Colorado was “tightening”–even though there wasn’t much else to suggest that was actually happening to include corroborating polls. Today’s Morning Consult numbers, on the other hand, are back in line with consensus expectation three weeks out from the election in Colorado: which is that another massive Democratic landslide is in the offing.

Now it’s up to Colorado voters to make these numbers come true.

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Some CO Republicans Are Still Hiding Their Stance on Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I have yet to find a single Republican state lawmaker or candidate for state office in Colorado who’s said they won’t vote for Trump.

But even though Trump is the most import topic of the upcoming election, some Republicans—while not denouncing Trump—are refusing to say publicly if they are on the Trump train, apparently believing that if they do so, it will scare away voters in competitive districts.

When Trump was first elected in 2016, some Colorado Republicans stood up and opposed him. Even the now-Trump-loving leader of the Colorado Republican Party, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, was once a never-Trumper. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) didn’t vote for Trump, writing in Mike Pence instead.

But now Colorado Republicans have liked what they’ve seen during the past four years and have lined up behind the president.

But what’s up with the Republicans who won’t tell us where they stand on Trump.

The ones who are hiding their position on Trump, like state Sen. Kevin Priola of Adams County and state Senate candidate Suzanne Staiert of Arapahoe County, are running in competitive districts where Trump-hating younger, unaffiliated, and/or suburban voters could turn against candidates who support the president, according to multiple polls by the Republican-leaning pollster Magellan Strategies.

Below is list of Republicans in key races—and where they stand on Trump, if their position is known.

If you’re wondering about Democrats, I could find none who are refusing to say where they stand on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. They all support him.

I’ll be updating this post before the election. Please send missing information and updates to tips @ coloradotimesrecorder.com.

Candidates in Key Races Who Won’t Say if They Back Trump

Vanessa Warren-DeMott (House District 25, suburbs west of Denver). DeMott didn’t return a call seeking to know her stance on Trump.

Caroline Cornell (House District 37, Centennial area). Asked by CTR if she supports Trump, Cornell hung up the phone after saying, “I’m—I don’t—I’m afraid I have to get on another call right now. I’ll have to call you back.”

Lynn Gerber (Senate District 19, Jefferson County). Gerber didn’t return a call seeking to know her stance on Trump.

Richard Murray (University of Colorado Regent, Aurora area). “I don’t want to comment on the president,” Murray has said.

Vicki Pyne (House District 27, Arvada). Pyne didn’t return a call seeking to know her stance on Trump.

Kevin Priola (Senate District 25, Adams County). Priola did not return a call from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking his position on Trump. He “doesn’t want to talk about Trump,” according to The Denver Post.

Don Rosier (House District 37, Littleton/Evergreen). Rosier didn’t return a call seeking to know his stance on Trump.

Suzanne Staiert (Senate District 27, Arapahoe County). Staiert declined to tell the Colorado Times Recorder if she supports Trump, saying she’s “never been asked” the question by people during current the campaign.

GOP Office Holders in Key Races Backing Trump

U.S. SenCory Gardner. (Gardner once called Trump a “buffoon” and then said in 2016 he’d vote for him (after being asked seven times). Gardner eventually said he wouldn’t cast a ballot for Trump and voted for Pence. Now, he’s endorsed Trump.)

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck. (Buck led the “Never Trump” opposition at the 2016 Republican National Convention, before eventually accepting Trump as the nominee. He’s since become a fervent supporter.)

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. Co-chair of Trump’s Colorado re-election campaign.

State Sen. Bob Rankin (Senate District 8, Northwester Colorado). Rankin was an early Trump supporter, endorsing him at a time when many Colorado Republicans were uncertain about the mogul.

Republican Legislative or Congressional Candidates Backing Trump

Congressional candidate Lauren Boebert (facing Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush)

Congressional candidate Steve House (challenging U.S. Rep. Jason Crow)

Congressional candidate Casper Stockham (challenging U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter)

Robert Blanken (House District 17, Colorado Springs). “As a Republican, I strongly support Donald Trump,” Blanken told the Colorado Times Recorder Monday, adding that the president “has made some errors in the ways he communicates” and Trump may have wanted rephrase or refrain from even discussing certain issues.” “I think he’s done a wonderful job,” he said.

Richard Champion (House District 38, Arapahoe County). Promoted his support of Trump during the campaign.

Marilyn Harris (House District 59, southern Colorado). Considered it a “great honor” to vote for Trump.

Bob Roth (Senate District 26, Arapahoe County). Says he supports the president.

Select Former GOP Officials Opposing Trump

Former leader of the Colorado Republican Party Ryan Call.

Former state House GOP Minority Leader Rep. Cole Wist.

Former state Rep. Victor Mitchell. “Donald Trump is a despicable human being,” Mitchell told the Colorado Times Recorder.

Former Elected Officials Backing Trump

Former CO Secretary of State Wayne Williams

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Throwback Thursday: Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago today, as the controversy raged one day after a recording of then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump surfaced with Trump making a series of comments that crudely boasted of his supposed ability as a celebrity to commit sexual assault with impunity, Sen. Cory Gardner issued a statement that seems unthinkable today: calling for Trump to withdraw from the presidential race in favor of vice presidential candidate Mike Pence.

Donald Trump and Cory Gardner embrace in Colorado Springs, February 20, 2020.

Gardner’s statement was unequivocal: “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” Here it is in its entirety:

Millions of Americans are set to choose between two people to lead this nation,. One candidate is a danger to our constitution, freedoms and security, and would sell our national security to the highest bidder and finalize the destruction of the rule of law. The other – a candidate whose flaws are beyond mere moral shortcomings and who shows a disgust for American character and a disdain for dignity unbecoming of the Presidency. I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.

I am committed to defeating Hillary Clinton. The only way this is now possible is with a new nominee that reflects the values of our country and our party. I will not vote for Donald Trump. If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so – step aside, and allow Mike Pence to be the Republican Party’s nominee. If he fails to do so, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton but will instead write-in my vote for Mike Pence.

Four years later, Gardner’s assertion that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would “would sell our national security to the highest bidder” and “finalize the destruction of the rule of law” apply so perfectly to the President’s own conduct in office that the words are downright chilling. But in the time that Trump has lived out the predictions Gardner made about Hillary Clinton, Gardner has “evolved” from calling on Trump to withdraw from the race to a national symbol of loyalty to Trump even at the expense of one’s own political future.

Gardner has never once been made to explain how he progressed from being unable to support a candidate “who brags about degrading and assaulting women” to one of Trump’s most steadfast allies and early endorsers. It’s a question we hope gets posed to Gardner in an upcoming debate, because there really is no good answer: if Gardner believed what he said in 2016, nothing has happened subsequently that should have changed his unequivocal position that Trump is unfit to serve as President.

Is it an old question? Yes. But the only answer Colorado voters have ever been given is a shrug. “Of course Gardner supports the President,” the jaded pundits say. “He has to.”

Maybe. But that doesn’t make it right. Or politically survivable.

The reckoning fate decreed on October 8, 2016 has arrived.

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Trump’s Stimulus Chaos Is Incredibly Stupid Politics

President Donald Trump.

As the Washington Post reports, the on-again off-again lifeline millions of Americans are holding on for is back on again, two days after President Donald Trump sent markets and stimulus negotiations into disarray by declaring no deal until “after I win.”

President Trump said Thursday that economic relief talks are back on and could include a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks, two days after he abruptly declared them over and ordered his deputies to stop negotiating with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Well I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they are starting to work out, we’re starting to have some very productive talks,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network.

He said he believes Pelosi “wants it to happen, because it’s so good for our country, we really need it.”

Prior to Trump’s announcement Tuesday that stimulus negotiations would stop until after the elections, Republicans were hoping to obtain the upper hand in the back-and-forth over who was delaying a final agreement. Democratic insistence on key components in a final stimulus deal like aid to state and local governments was being portrayed by Republicans as unnecessary impediments to getting Americans another round of politically popular stimulus direct payments and expanded unemployment benefits. After Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19, urgency from Republicans to get a deal renewed hopes for relief before the election–until Trump dashed them Tuesday by at least implicitly making another stimulus bill contingent on him winning re-election.

That didn’t go over well. With Trump’s numbers already dropping from the fallout of his irony-laden COVID diagnosis, Trump’s throwing of an expectation of imminent economic relief into doubt once again was a stupendous political error. The one thing we can say positively is that it does seem Trump’s subordinates quickly realized this was a major mistake, and prevailed on Trump to start walking it back fairly quickly. Given the pressing need for more economic stimulus that just about everyone agrees on, it is more likely now that a deal will be struck–but after forcing Americans to ride this emotional roller coaster through months of fruitless negotiations after Democrats passed a relief bill back in May, the political benefit for Republicans has greatly diminished.

Given how transparent Trump’s motives have become in these negotiations, it’s reasonable to suggest that if there isn’t a bill before the election and the election doesn’t go Trump’s way, there likely won’t be one after. With that in mind, and setting aside the politics, here’s hoping a deal can be struck in time to help Americans in October. Because we need it.

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Right Wing Militia Groups are Terrorists. Full Stop.

Armed protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber in Lansing, Michigan on April 30, 2020.

There is some terrifying news out of Michigan today that should force many Republican elected officials and candidates to reconsider their support for right wing militia groups. As The Detroit Free Press reports:

The federal government has charged six people with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to newly unsealed court records. [Pols emphasis]

The FBI became aware early in 2020, through social media, that a militia group was “discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components,” and “agreed to take violent action,” according to a sworn affidavit.

Members of the group talked about “murdering … tyrants” or “taking” a sitting governor, according to the affidavit. One of the relevant meetings the FBI monitored was held June 20 in Grand Rapids. the affidavit alleges. Another meeting was held at a home in Luther, Mich.

Discussions included using 200 men to “storm” the Capitol Building in Lansing, kidnap hostages, including, Whitmer and try the governor for treason, according to the affidavit.

The group met for field exercises and training this year and conducted surveillance of the the governor’s vacation home on at least two occasions in late August and September, the affidavit alleges. They also purchased an 800,000-volt Taser for use in the kidnapping plot, according to court records and members of the plot said they wanted to complete the kidnapping before the Nov. 3 election, according to the affidavit. [Pols emphasis] 

This is more than just a bunch of gun nuts dressing up like G.I. Joe and carrying assault rifles in public places. These people were actively working on a plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and to take “violent action” against the government. They weren’t just talking; they were practicing.

This also puts a new perspective on the armed demonstrators who stormed the Michigan State Capitol in April; at the time they were described as being angry about coronavirus-related lockdowns, but it’s clear that there were other grievances bubbling beneath the surface. And don’t for a minute think that these armed yahoos weren’t feeling validated by the words of President Trump, who is happy to stroke their egos because he thinks it benefits him politically.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. If you think this news out of Michigan is unrelated to the inflammatory rhetoric from certain Republicans, then you’re lying to yourself. If you think it’s not happening here in Colorado, you’re lying to yourself. We’ve already seen threats of armed militias descending on the State Capitol in Denver.

Republican elected officials cheer these assholes forward with their social media accounts and public statements, so OF COURSE some of them are going to take that encouragement seriously. When Trump tells the “Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by,” they listen and they salute.

Rep. Ken Buck, wearing a “Kill ’em all all, let God sort ’em out” t-shirt.

This includes the likes of Rep. Ken Buck, the Greeley Congressman who moonlights as State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa). Buck has spent a lot of time grandstanding on the threat of “Antifa,” which the FBI acknowledges isn’t even an actual organization; meanwhile, Buck is happy to rile up actual armed militia groups with campaign videos of him playing with guns and criticizing mask-wearing precautions. When elected officials and state party leaders are encouraging violent behavior, it is music to the ears of the kind of extremists who are desperately looking for that kind of validation. We certainly wouldn’t take Buck seriously, but there are enough people who would — and that makes his rhetoric truly dangerous.

When House Minority Leader Patrick Neville promotes his self-serving lawsuit fundraiser against Gov. Jared Polis because Polis is trying to make sure we don’t all die from COVID-19, there are plenty of people who think Neville is being serious and not just running another grifting operation. When Neville and other right-wing radio sycophants insist that Denver is a burning trash heap that needs to be defended by “patriotic citizens,” they are hyping up the sort of people who already want to do this.

Republicans lose their damn minds when someone uses spray paint in a public place, but they go silent when people are parading around with assault rifles. You don’t think these militia types notice when the 17-year-old guy from Illinois who killed two people in Kenosha, WI is hailed as a hero instead of denigrated as a murderer?

Lauren Boebert at a “freedom rally” on May 23.

Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert OPENLY EMBRACES MILITIA GROUPS, publicly accepts their support, and has reportedly even asked them to provide “security” for her campaign events. Look at this interview with Boebert from RealVail.com:

REAL VAIL: Gun-toting militia members in Michigan just stormed the state capitol (on April 30) and unsuccessfully demanded access to the floor of the legislature. Some lawmakers said they were intimidated by the show of firepower. Was that appropriate?

BOEBERT: I didn’t see that happen, but … I don’t see why they’re not allowed to. Denver, you can’t open carry in Denver, but right there at our Capitol doors, there’s metal detectors so the public can’t go in there with their firearm. However, even that is a violation of the way the laws read — whenever you are going to restrict law-abiding citizens to come into a public building like that with a firearm.

Boebert doesn’t see why armed people shouldn’t be allowed to storm their State Capitol whenever the mood strikes them. What the actual fuck?

Boebert is also a cheerleader for insane conspiracy theories promoted by the likes of QAnon, but she’s not alone; 17 Republican Members of Congress recently voted NO on a resolution condemning QAnon. If you’re afraid to speak out against these dangerous lies, then you’re complicit in feeding the mindless fury that drives them.

What almost happened in Michigan is abhorrent. You can’t blame these actions directly on provocateurs like Trump and Buck, but ask yourself this: Would it have happened if right-wing politicians hadn’t been egging them forward and calling them “patriots”?

The rhetoric of elected officials and candidates can — and does — have real consequences beyond the results of an election. It’s past time for Republican politicians to start taking this responsibility more seriously.

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Trump’s Poll Numbers Crash In Colorado Post-COVID Diagnosis

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey’s latest story on the continuing political fallout from President Donald Trump’s diagnosis with and subsequent handling of COVID-19 contains ominous below-the-fold news for Colorado Republicans, already bracing for another Democratic wave election:

A GOP group working to elect Senate Republicans conducted polling over the weekend in four states — Colorado, Georgia, Montana and North Carolina — as Trump was hospitalized. The president’s numbers dropped “significantly” in every state, falling by about five points in all four. [Pols emphasis]

“The president is in real trouble,” said one of the group’s operatives, who is also close to the White House.

Many of Trump’s allies and advisers see his response to his own illness as a missed opportunity. Some had hoped that he would emerge from his hospital stay slightly humbled, with a newfound display of seriousness and empathy, and would receive a boost of public sympathy.

But so far, that has not happened. Internal Republican polling has consistently shown that the coronavirus — and not taking it seriously enough — remains the president’s electoral albatross. They believe it has caused the president to lose support among senior citizens and suburban women, both key voting blocs.

President Trump’s bout with COVID-19, undergoing sudden intensive treatment at Walter Reed Hospital amid conflicting reports of the severity of his illness and a widening outbreak among Washington, D.C. Republicans,  appears to have shaken the faith of some number of voters who were previously intending to vote to re-elect the president. It’s possible that Trump personally becoming infected with a virus he promised would “disappear” with warm weather back in the spring is simply too much irony to rationally withstand, or at least an aggregate tipping point for yet-reachable Trump supporters. Either way, there are so few undecided voters left in any poll that a five-point slide for Trump would have to be the result of erosion within Trump’s base of support.

If your job prospects in 2021 are riding on Trump’s coattails in 2020, your bad year just got five points worse.

That alone is enough in theory to seal downballot fates.

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Republicans Tell Economists, Voters to Get Bent on Stimulus

UPDATE #2: The stock market reacts accordingly.

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UPDATE: No relief for you!

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It has been nearly five months since the House of Representatives passed the “HEROES Act” to provide additional relief for Americans still struggling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. No further relief has been made available to Americans, however, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus have persistently refused to entertain any sort of compromise on the matter.

We’ve noted before in this space the absurdity of claims from McConnell and other Republicans that it is somehow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s fault that the Senate can’t get anything done. It is looking even less likely that the Senate will make any movement on another coronavirus relief package now that a COVID-19 outbreak has sickened at least three GOP Senators. As POLITICO reported on Saturday:

Three Republican senators announced positive coronavirus diagnoses in the past 24 hours, including one, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, on Saturday morning. Three more GOP senators have said they are quarantining after potential exposure to the virus, which significantly narrows the GOP 53-member majority.

The Senate had been scheduled to come back to Washington on Monday to begin advancing other judicial nominees, but McConnell has been forced to recalibrate those plans as the pandemic hit his caucus.

While the Senate won’t be back in Washington D.C. for regular business, McConnell and leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have promised to plow ahead with the confirmation process for President Trump’s newest Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. But as The Hill newspaper reports, McConnell and friends are doing the exact opposite of what the American people would prefer:

An overwhelming majority of voters believe the Senate should prioritize coronavirus relief over confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. [Pols emphasis]

Seventy-four percent of registered voters in the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 survey said the Senate should first pass a new COVID-19 relief bill…

…Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 77 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans were in favor of the Senate passing another stimulus package first.

Via CNBC (10/6/20)

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is pleading with lawmakers to do something big with another stimulus bill in order to stave off economic disaster. As The New York Times reports:

Powell delivered a message to his fellow policymakers on Tuesday: Faced with a once-in-a-century pandemic that has inflicted economic pain on millions of households, go big.

“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” Mr. Powell said in remarks prepared for virtual delivery before the National Association for Business Economics.

“Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth,” he said. “By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller.”

While the unemployment rate has fallen more rapidly than many economists expected, dropping to 7.9 percent in September, millions of Americans remain unemployed as the coronavirus pandemic keeps many service industries operating below capacity. Consumer spending is holding up, but Mr. Powell underlined — as he has before — that the economy’s resilience owes substantially to strong government support for households and businesses. [Pols emphasis]

Economic experts want the U.S. Senate to MOVE on another coronavirus stimulus bill. Polling suggests that 3 out of 4 Americans want the U.S. Senate to MOVE on another coronavirus stimulus bill. Senate Republicans, however, are really only interested in confirming another SCOTUS nominee.

If Democrats are able to flip the U.S. Senate in November, there won’t be any confusion about why Republicans lost their majority.

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Trump Says He’s Leaving Hospital Tonight

UPDATE #3: Maybe leaving the hospital today was not the best idea:

 

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UPDATE #2: President Trump has left the building, departing Walter Reed Hospital and returning to the White House.

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UPDATE: As The New York Times reports, President Trump isn’t getting a “sympathy bump” in the polls in large part because Americans think he could have avoided getting COVID-19:

Polls by Ipsos/Reuters and YouGov/Yahoo conducted on Friday and Saturday found that most Americans feel the president hadn’t been taking the coronavirus seriously, in terms of policy or personal conduct, and that he could have avoided getting sick.

Both polls also showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintaining his national lead over Mr. Trump. The Ipsos/Reuters poll showed Mr. Biden up by 10 percentage points — one point higher than in its last several national polls, including one from after last Tuesday’s first presidential debate.

The poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans, including half of Republicans, think Mr. Trump could have avoided the virus if he had taken it more seriously.

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President Trump arriving at Walter Reed Hospital last Friday (10/2/20)

As The Washington Post reports:

Trump announced that he will return to the White House on Monday night after spending the past three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, where he has been receiving treatment for covid-19.

“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M.,” the president said in a tweet. “Feeling really good!”

The president also played down the threat of the coronavirus, even as several other members of his administration —including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and at least two other White House communications aides — have contracted it in recent days…

…At a briefing Monday, White House physician Sean Conley said that Trump had met the discharge criteria, although he declined to answer several questions from reporters, including on the timing of Trump’s last negative coronavirus test.

Trump undoubtedly has the best doctors and treatments available to aid in his recovery, but as many health experts have cautioned, patients requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 are not usually good to go after just a few days. From a separate Washington Post story:

The assertion by President Trump’s doctors that he could be discharged from the hospital as early as Monday astonished outside infectious-disease experts, who said he remains in a dangerous period of vulnerability when some covid-19 patients decline precipitously and require urgent intervention…

…The talk of the president’s release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center came as Conley and two other physicians treating Trump gave an upbeat but incomplete characterization of his condition. Outside doctors said they were mystified by what they said was an inconsistent portrayal of the president’s illness as relatively mild despite the aggressive mix of treatments he is getting.

For just one example of why Trump needs to be more cautious: Consider this timeline of the illness and death of former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain.

We certainly wish the President well…and we’re crossing our fingers for everyone at the White House who will soon be in closer proximity to Trump.

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Bernhardt To Enviros: Suck My Bro Pendley’s Methane

TUESDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Times Recorder’s Sean Price:

In a protest calling for the complete removal of William Perry Pendley from any position at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Progress Now Colorado, a progressive advocacy organization, used a powerful projector to beam the phrase “FIRE PENDLEY” on the building housing the office of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Gardner has avoided directly saying if he supports Pendley, whose nomination to lead the federal lands-management agency incited the ire of Democrats and environmental groups because of his past positions on environmental issues.

Last year, after he was nominated to take over the BLM by President Donald Trump, Pendley refused to say why he does not believe in global warming. Pendley also did not retract statements he made referring to the “fiction of man-made climate change” and calling climate believers “kooks.” In June Pendley wrote an op-ed criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and saying it was based on a “terrible lie.”

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David Bernhardt (left).

Michael Karlik of the Colorado Springs Gazette nabbed an interview this weekend with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, the Rifle-born oil and gas attorney who you’d think would be in the hot seat after a federal judge removed his subordinate acting Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley from his acting directorship–but like most swampy denizens of Trump’s Cabinet, Bernhardt is unfazed and owning the libs:

Environmentalists’ “hopes and dreams are about to be crushed” if they think the court-ordered removal of the Bureau of Land Management’s chief will invalidate his actions, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said on Friday…

He added that the groups’ “inflammatory rhetoric” is “completely detached from the reality of the legal process.” Bernhardt said he would abide by the judge’s order unless it is overturned, and has the authority over all bureaus within the Interior Department, including to manage the BLM in the absence of a Senate-confirmed director.

Pendley, he said, would continue to serve as the deputy director of policy and programs, the position he has held even while serving as acting director. The secretary maintained that the continued appointments of Pendley were “necessary and appropriate, and in my 20 years of experience with the Department of the Interior, these authorities have been used consistently and regularly.”

With Pendley’s titular ouster as acting director, Bernhardt has announced that a new acting director won’t be appointed, with Bernhardt assuming the responsibilities of BLM director and Pendley remaining with the same title he held while serving as acting director. If that all adds up in your head to Bernhardt and Pendley for all intents and purposes thumbing their nose at the judge’s order removing Pendley, leaving Pendley with all the de facto power he had before, you’re not alone–and Bernhardt did nothing in this interview to make anyone think differently.

As for “invalidating” decisions made by Pendley as acting BLM director, there are two potential avenues for that: via the courtroom, and at the polls in November. It may be at this point that the BLM will never have a Senate-confirmed director under Donald Trump–only a troubled legacy of questionable decisions to roll back.

Which should, we assume, make it somewhat easier to roll them back.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (October 5)

Happy “World Space Week.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

As you may have heard by now, President Trump has COVID-19 and is being treated at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. According to White House officials and Trump’s team of doctors, the President’s condition is somewhere between “mostly dead” and “totally fine.” White House officials had been suggesting over the weekend that Trump could be released from the hospital as soon as today, though actual doctors find that scenario to be highly unlikely.

As The New York Times updates today, “Trump’s condition remains unclear.”

 

President Trump briefly rode around in a car on Sunday night to prove that he was still alive, which did not make the Secret Service very happy. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, it was all very weird and very Trump:

Donald Trump’s unannounced — and wildly unnecessary — drive-by of his supporters outside Walter Reed medical center on Sunday night aptly summed up his presidency to date: An entirely self-focused political (and PR) stunt with little regard for the impacts on people other than himself.

That’s the only logical explanation for the decision by the President of the United States to task two Secret Service agents with driving him by supporters who had gathered outside the hospital to show their support for him as he continues to battle Covid-19.

“That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack,” tweeted Dr. James Phillips, who works at Walter Reed as an emergency physician, on Sunday night. “The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play.”

He added: “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

Yes. That. All of it.

 

The candidates for U.S. Senate have now debated twice since you stopped working before the weekend: On Friday in Pueblo and on Sunday for Univision. Friday’s debate was live streamed; the Univision debate will air on Tuesday.

As the first U.S. Senate General Election debate of 2020, Friday’s showdown was widely covered by Colorado media outlets. Here’s our analysis of the Pueblo debate; the short version is that Sen. Cory Gardner came off as agitated and desperate, while former Gov. John Hickenlooper calmly fended off Gardner’s attacks and focused much of the discussion on health care issues.

The Senate candidates are scheduled to debate two more times: On Friday, Oct. 9 (Denver7/DenverPost/CPR) and on Tuesday, Oct. 13 (9News/Ft. Collins Coloradoan).

 

The Pueblo Chieftain endorses Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush for Congress in CO-03 and doesn’t mince words on their opinion of Republican candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert:

“She has no business in Congress.”

     — The Pueblo Chieftain editorial board on Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert

Sure, Boebert can hold news conferences and be a darling on Fox News, but she would be ineffectual in Congress with that attitude. And that’s where we need success. Air time on conservative networks doesn’t help Colorado.

Mitsch Bush, on the other hand, would be well-respected from day one, drawing significant committee assignments and she would begin working her way up the seniority ladder. That’s how the system works, and that’s how Colorado would benefit in terms of representation and legislation that helps our state.

Boebert has made quite the name for herself in far-right circles, especially in opening her Shooters Grill in Rifle, where men and women dress up like cowboys and cowgirls, strap on their guns and wish they could have been extras in “Tombstone”.

Fine with us. We think that’s where she should continue to hold court. She has no business in Congress.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Oct-COVID Surprise Goes On: Kayleigh McEnany Tests Positive

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The Hill reports, we can confirm that a relentlessly sunny disposition is no defense against the coronavirus, as White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tests (so far, anyway) asymptomatically positive:

“After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms. No reporters, producers or members of the press are listed as close contacts by the White House Medical Unit,” she said in a statement.

“As an essential worker, I have worked diligently to provide needed information to the American people at this time,” she continued. “With my recent positive test, I will begin the quarantine process and will continue working on behalf of the American people remotely.”

McEnany is just the latest Trump insider to test positive among those who attended the White Rose Rose Garden ceremony on September 26 to announce the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court–an event that will now live on in epidemiological infamy as President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and a growing number of attendees get sick with COVID-19.

We of course hope McEnany joins the large percentage in her age cohort who remain asymptomatic even after testing positive–and like youngsters everywhere who risk others more than themselves in their response to contracting the infection, we hope she keeps her at-risk friends and family safe by strictly honoring the rules of her quarantine.

We can all agree in retrospect that this “superspreader” event was not such a good idea, but we do have more sympathy for those for whom attendance was a job requirement. That goes not just for McEnany, but White House correspondents who have tested positive after being present for McEnany’s maskless briefings.

As always, let your schadenfreude be tempered by the degree of compassion you consider suitable.

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Trump Moved to Walter Reed Hospital

President Trump (10/2/20)

UPDATE: Trump has arrived at Walter Reed Hospital. He was seen boarding (and disembarking) from Marine One.

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As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump, who has Covid-19, is to be taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday afternoon in his helicopter as a precautionary measure, the White House said Friday.

The move was recommended by the president’s physician, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, and he is expected to remain at Walter Reed for several days. He will work from the presidential offices there, McEnany said.

Three people familiar with his condition said earlier Friday Trump has a low-grade fever. The president’s doctor said he was administered an antibody cocktail, along with vitamins, and is fatigued, while Melania Trump has a mild cough and headache.

Obviously we’ll update whenever we know more.

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The Senate Debate Is Still On. What’s Cory Gardner Going To Say?

UPDATE: The tests have been taken:

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Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

CBS4 Denver reports ominously:

There are new coronavirus concerns surrounding Amy Coney Barrett’s meetings with U.S. senators including Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado’s junior senator. Barrett has tested negative for COVID but she met with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah on Tuesday, the same day as Gardner, and Lee has now tested positive…

Gardner is scheduled to debate his challenger John Hickenlooper on Friday night. A spokesperson for Gardner’s office told CBS4 that will still happen.

The latest news reports suggest that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who Sen. Cory Gardner met with earlier this week, was diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 earlier in the summer. That’s potentially good news for Gardner, though we have no way of knowing whether Gardner was in close proximity with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who has now tested positive–not to mention the President himself. At this point, we’ll have to take Gardner at his word that he doesn’t need to be quarantined, and we’re looking ahead to watching tonight’s streamed debate from Pueblo at 7:00PM.

Which brings us to what might happen in tonight’s debate. It’s no secret that Gardner has been hoping for a face-to-face showdown with former Gov. John Hickenlooper, a chance for Gardner’s quick thinking and polished delivery score badly needed points in a forum that no one would call Hickenlooper’s strong suit. Unfortunately for Gardner, the events of the past few days have resurfaced many of the worst sins of last decade of Republican control and the Trump administration, and these issues are going to be front of mind in tonight’s debate. From the pandemic’s deep damage and recent resurgence to Gardner’s own role in denying Barack Obama the choice to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court back in 2016, it’s been a hellish week for Gardner in a race he’s already losing.

We can start with the assumption that most of Gardner’s answers about the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be talking points we’ve heard before: masks from Taiwan, tests from South Korea–Gardner’s anecdotal relief efforts meant to distract from the administration’s failure to supply emergency equipment–and even commandeering Colorado’s order for ventilators. Now that it’s known Trump was fully aware of the dire impending situation in early February, Gardner has to explain holding a rally in Colorado Springs with Trump and thousands of Republican faithful on February 20th, which wrecks Gardner’s own claim that he was concerned about the pandemic as early as January.

With respect to health care, Gardner’s vote this week with Democrats against a lawsuit Gardner has previously supported seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, a vote forced by Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer’s resistance campaign against confirming a new Justice before a new President is sworn in in January, obligates Gardner to explain why he has spent the last decade trying to achieve the goals of that lawsuit. Because Gardner is very adept at sidestepping his long record of opposition to protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, whom Gardner only started caring to protect from GOP repeal efforts when polls showed it was a major political liability, it’s going to be up to the Hickenlooper (and the moderators, naturally) to not let Gardner off the hook here.

The Supreme Court confirmation controversy is of course a subject we expect to be thoroughly aired in tonight’s debate, and in addition to health care several other questions central to Gardner’s record are sure to come up. Gardner’s refusal in 2016 to allow Merrick Garland a fair hearing will be contrasted unfavorably against rushing Amy Coney Barrett through just weeks before the election this year, and Gardner will have to own that under cross-examination. But perhaps more importantly, the game Gardner was able to play in 2014, in which his “personal views on abortion” supposedly did not translate into a proximal threat to abortion rights, is a bitter punchline today.

If there’s time, we think it would be interesting to revisit Gardner’s own words from October of 2016: “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” An honest answer from Gardner as to how he was able to “evolve” from that position to backing Trump to the bitter end in 2020 would be…very interesting.

The aggregate weight of the case against Cory Gardner is so strong that the result tonight will be determined simply by how well Hickenlooper and moderators hold Gardner to the facts about his and Trump’s record. Gardner’s ability to stay on message no matter what obstacles stand in his way will be sorely tested in this debate, and on so many of these questions there simply are no truthful answers that are also survivable.

For all of these reasons, we’ll be tuning in our small screens. Watch this space for updates.

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The GMS Podcast Gets More Weiser

Attorney General Phil Weiser (D)

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we get more Weiser thanks to an interview with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Weiser about his time serving as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and his thoughts on how a new SCOTUS confirmation should proceed.

We also talk about what looks to be another blue wave in Colorado; President Trump and Cory Gardner using the same fake healthcare playbook; and Rep. Ken Buck’s persistence to make an ass of himself at any and every opportunity.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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President Trump Has COVID

UPDATE #2: Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have tested negative for COVID-19. Current Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, have also tested negative.

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UPDATE: Panic grows in Washington as more high-ranking Republicans test positive for COVID-19, including Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah–the latter being particularly problematic, because:

As of this writing, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has tested negative, as has Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden–but they’ll need more testing in order to be sure. With only a month left to go before the 2020 elections, the impact of these developments are difficult to objectively assess today–but they’re going to be large.

Buckle up, October of 2020 is going to be a wild ride.

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President Donald Trump (R).

It’s the news dominating the morning, as CNN reports:

A country already unnerved by a devastating health catastrophe and a turbulent political season faced fresh upheaval Friday as Americans awoke to news President Donald Trump had contracted coronavirus.

The President made the announcement on Twitter at nearly 1 a.m. ET on Friday and the development — after months of debilitating losses, set against a badly mismanaged federal response overseen by a commander-in-chief who repeatedly downplayed the crisis — threw fresh turmoil into the country’s leadership at a moment of deep national strain…

A senior administration official said Friday that Trump wasn’t showing major symptoms and planned to work from the White House residence. A White House official described Trump’s condition as having “mild symptoms” of the coronavirus and said aides were looking at ways for Trump to speak to the nation on Friday, though no final decision had been made by mid-morning.

Obviously there’s a lot we could say here, but some moments in history are better defined by what is not said. Or what doesn’t need to be said. You may disagree and decide to say it, and that’s your prerogative, but we’re taking the high road–for today. And with that in mind, we wish the President, the First Lady, and anyone else affected by this situation a speedy recovery.

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Gardner Takes Both Sides of Both Sides on ACA Lawsuit

FRIDAY UPDATE: As The Hill newspaper reports, Gardner sorta commented on his vote Thursday:

Another bill, sponsored by Gardner, called the “Pre-Existing Conditions Protect Act” would actually let insurance companies refuse to sell coverage to people with preexisting conditions, experts say. If an insurer did decide to sell a policy to someone with preexisting conditions, under Gardner’s bill it could not refuse to not cover services related to that condition or charge them more based on their health status.

Gardner told The Hill in a statement he voted with Democrats on Thursday because “it would have provided an opportunity to vote on my bill to protect coverage with pre-existing conditions.”

“I support having this important dialogue with my colleagues,” he said. His office did not reply to a follow-up question about whether he supports the GOP’s lawsuit. [Pols emphasis] 

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Cory Gardner’s smile

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner weaved his way into Congress on a singular issue: His fervent opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He once called the ACA “the worst government boondoggle” in American history and said that the government should not provide coverage protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

In February 2018, a group of Republican states — with the support of the Trump administration — filed a lawsuit to repeal the ACA altogether. That lawsuit is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in November.

As The Hill reported in August 2019:

Asked if he supported the lawsuit, Gardner replied: “That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.”

Gardner was again asked about his position on the ACA lawsuit back in March 2020. Again, from The Hill newspaper:

The office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) did not respond to a request for comment on if he supports the lawsuit.

And don’t forget Gardner’s interview on July 1 with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio, in which the Yuma Republican dodged direct questions about his support of the ACA lawsuit 6 TIMES!

Why are we reminding you of this? Because as Igor Bobic of The Huffington Post reports, Gardner voted today to advance legislation that would cut off financial support for the Department of Justice’s anti-ACA lawsuit:

This maneuver pushed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was previewed by POLITICO on Tuesday. It was designed to force vulnerable Republicans to take an on-the-record vote on the ACA lawsuit, and it worked. A total of six Republican Senators voted ‘YES’ on this proposal (Collins, Ernst, Gardner, McSally, Murkowski, and Sullivan). Senator Lindsey Graham — another increasingly-endangered Republican — was listed as “Not Voting.”

Cheers!

This procedure put Gardner in a tough spot as he fights for his political life with about one week left until ballots start going out in Colorado. Gardner could a) Vote ‘NO’ and re-affirm that he supports the ACA repeal lawsuit, or b) Vote ‘YES’ and start trying to pretend that he opposes the ACA repeal lawsuit.

Gardner apparently chose the second option, which is interesting since his recent ploy to pretend to be in favor of protecting pre-existing medical conditions failed so miserably. We’re curious to see how Gardner tries to explain today’s vote and if he attempts to claim that he is now against the ACA repeal lawsuit. Gardner could always just come out and say he opposes the lawsuit — he didn’t need today’s vote as an impetus — but that would contradict everything he’s said (and not said) about the lawsuit in the last two years.

Gardner knows that the ACA is popular in Colorado, so it’s bad politics for him to keep calling for its demise. But Gardner also backed himself into a corner on this issue a LONG time ago — opposing the ACA is a foundational piece of his political narrative. And if he says he now opposes the lawsuit, then it makes it weird for him to continue to support a new Supreme Court Justice who may soon be voting on said lawsuit.

As for Schumer’s proposal, it ultimately failed to get enough votes to invoke cloture, so the measure is dead. The votes are now public record, however, and Gardner is going to have to figure out how to spin this favorably.

Good luck with that.

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Another Indication that Gardner’s Days are Numbered

Hi, I’m calling about the job opening posted online…

Last week, the Cook Political Report changed its ratings for Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, moving their prediction to the left from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democratic.”

Today, another national handicapper made an even bigger change: Sabato’s Crystal Ball has adjusted its ratings for Colorado from “Leans Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”

As Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman write for Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

Last week, the Crystal Ball downgraded the prospects of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — we now rate the four-term Maine senator as an underdog against her Democratic challenger, state House Speaker Sara Gideon. Aside from Collins, the only Republican senator running in a Clinton state this year is Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). Colorado, at least in 2016, voted a couple of points more Democratic than Maine, and Gardner hasn’t had decades to cultivate a personal brand — as Collins has — so we’ve had his race at Leans Democratic since February.

The picture for Trump is not good in the Centennial State: as of Wednesday, polling aggregates from FiveThirtyEight give Biden a clean 51%-41% advantage. As one Republican operative summed up in July, “Jesus Christ himself couldn’t overperform Trump by double digits.” Senate polling since then has born this out: while Gardner generally performs better than Trump, he often lags his Democratic challenger, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), by high single-digits…

…Even before the court vacancy, Gardner’s opposition to the ACA seemed to be hurting his electoral standing. So the coverage of the court hearings may emphasize two issues where Republicans are out of step with the Colorado electorate. This pushes our rating to Likely Democratic and emphasizes, in our ratings, that Gardner is clearly the most vulnerable Republican senator.

Of course, this does not mean that Colorado’s Senate race is over — but it’s moving quickly in that direction. Organizations like Cook Political Report and Center for Politics are usually pretty conservative in adjusting their probabilities for individual races; they want to be able to boast in December that their predictions were largely accurate. With a low number of undecided voters in Colorado, Gardner himself seems to be acknowledging this reality.

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