New Polling Loaded With More Bad News For Colorado GOP

Global Strategy Group, a nationwide public relations and comms firm, released new polling data via local liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado reinforcing what a host of recent polls in Colorado have already corroborated: enduring Democratic majority “generic ballot” support from Colorado voters, the continuing deep unpopularity of President Donald Trump, and vulnerable incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner even less loved than our unpopular president:

Democrats may only have a 2-point lead on party registration, but they lead Republicans on party self identification and the generic vote for state legislature by much larger margins. Self-identified Democratic voters are also more motivated to vote in November than Republicans, with nearly nine in 10 being extremely motivated.

Meanwhile, voters view Democratic Governor Polis favorably and rate his job in office even higher, at a firm +10. Attitudes towards Democrats in the Colorado state legislature are mixed, but much warmer than those towards their Republican counterparts. Republican President Trump and Senator Gardner are both far underwater in comparison…

Trump’s job approval is quite poor (-12 NET approve) and is particularly bad with unaffiliated voters (-15). Moreover, while Trump has very conservative Republicans (who make up 11% of the electorate) consolidated, a good quarter of the larger block of less-conservative Republicans (17% of the electorate) disapprove of his performance. These low marks translate into a 12-point disadvantage against a generic Democrat in the race for President, when just 4 years ago he only lost Colorado by a 5-point margin.

Cory Gardner may be in an even worse position, and his decision to put his loyalty to Donald Trump ahead of doing what’s right for Colorado is costing him dearly. [Pols emphasis] By aligning himself with Trump, he has unified Democrats against him and alienated middle-of-the-road voters – but his own base remains fractured as well. Gardner not only loses the same less-conservative never-Trump Republicans that the president does, but he also garners approval from just three-quarters from the hard-right GOP base that universally adores Trump.

Read more details here. Although this poll doesn’t contain any head-to-head matchups, Sen. Cory Gardner came in with a 14-point disadvantage against a generic Democrat among voters who indicated a strong likelihood to turn out. Voters also have a heavy preference for Democratic legislative candidates in the upcoming election, another sign that the GOP’s retaliation campaign following the 2018 Democratic wave win has failed to gain traction. If there is any good news for Republicans, it’s that Trump’s approval rate remains pretty much static at 44%–perhaps a floor for Trump personally, though not for Gardner for whom GOP base support is consistently less committed.

For Democrats, it’s more encouraging news. For Republicans, 2018’s downward trajectory has only steepened.


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 19)

Today is the 50th day of 2020; please celebrate responsibly. 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.


► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…

The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:

Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.

Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer is among many current and former Justice Department officials who think Barr should resign

You can thank Senate Republicans for fully unlocking Trump’s dictator mode. Here in Colorado, voters are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted for Trump’s impeachment acquittal purely as political protection.


The Democratic candidates for President will debate tonight in Nevada, which will also mark the first on-stage appearance of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s more on how candidates are courting Coloradans leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3:

♦ Jon Murray of The Denver Post breaks down how Bloomberg has been courting politicos in Colorado for decades.

♦ Elizabeth Warren has launched a new ad campaign in Colorado.

 Amy Klobuchar will be in Denver on Thursday. Tulsi Gabbard will be in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Joe Biden will not be appearing anywhere.

♦ President Trump is in Colorado Springs on Thursday with Sen. Cory Gardner. As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, Trump’s expensive visit will be paid for…by local taxpayers.


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


Colorado Voters Agree on #CoverUpCory

When Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted to acquit President Trump on impeachment charges, he barely bothered to come up with an explanation for how he made that decision. Gardner’s post-impeachment media tour was heavy on his absurd talking point that impeachment was actually a “policy question.”

Colorado media outlets were not impressed with Gardner’s obfuscation. As the editorial board of The Denver Post wrote, “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

As we can see from new polling data from Senate Majority PAC out today, Gardner’s excuses weren’t convincing to the majority of Colorado voters, either:

Large majorities of voters in these states say their GOP incumbent voted to acquit President Trump because they were voting with their party and trying to protect Trump politically, not because they actually believed Trump was innocent of an impeachable offense. The perception that these senators put party politics and Trump’s interests over principle is likely to affect the way voters assess their conduct on other issues.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Colorado:

Via Senate Majority PAC

#CoverUpCory will be appearing with President Trump at a campaign event and fundraiser in Colorado Springs on Thursday.


Ethics Complaint Against Hickenlooper Falls Apart

We’ve been following the silly saga of an ethics complaint filed against former Gov. John Hickenlooper by a partisan “watchdog” organization ever since allegations against the now-U.S. Senate candidate first appeared in late 2018. These charges always looked flimsy, and they are now completely dissolving as we get closer to a conclusive hearing by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission in March.

“The Public Trust Institute…acknowledged that it had no evidence…”

— The Colorado Sun (via “The Unaffiliated” newsletter, 2/14/20)

This “ethics complaint” was filed in October 2018 by an organization called The Public Trust Institute, a right-wing group headed up by the shady former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty. Hickenlooper and allies have long argued that the complaint was nothing but a politically-motivated hit job, and it’s always been tough to disagree; The Public Trust Institute, after all, was created literally two days before it filed the Hickenlooper allegations. Subsequent reports have revealed that the information provided in the ethics complaint came from America Rising PAC, a well-known Republican opposition research firm.

Frank McNulty

Unfortunately for PTI and America Rising PAC, no amount of research can dig up facts that don’t exist. Check out this paragraph from “The Unaffiliated,” a political newsletter published by The Colorado Sun (no link available):

This week, in a little-noticed move, the commission dismissed elements of key claims made in the complaint regarding the airfare and hotel for Hickenlooper’s trip to the Bilderberg conference in Italy, the cost of a hotel during a trip to Connecticut and the use of a private airline terminal in New Jersey. The Public Trust Institute, the dark-money funded conservative political group that filed the complaint in 2018, acknowledged that it had no evidence to show those travel arrangements amounted to an inappropriate gift to the governor and the state’s Independent Ethics Commission dismissed those matters. [Pols emphasis]

From the beginning, the entire purpose of this “ethics complaint” was to generate some negative headlines for Hickenlooper that could be exploited by Republicans in 2020 — whether Hickenlooper was a candidate for President or for U.S. Senate. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) eventually ended up spending less than $1,000 on a half-assed digital advertising campaign that was abandoned just days later.

It is absurd that an “ethics complaint” supported with zero evidence could generate media coverage of any kind, but McNulty and friends worked Colorado reporters hard to squeeze out a tiny bit of hysteria by insisting that ignoring the Hickenlooper allegations was an example of liberal media bias. McNulty’s biggest success was to get The Denver Post to start referring to money allocated to Colorado through “The Bush Tax Cuts” as a “Post-9/11 Recovery Fund,” which then emboldened them to allege that Hickenlooper’s legal defense was coming from a fund meant for 9/11 survivors. This was nonsense, but it generated a few news clips nonetheless.

The editorial board of The Denver Post was correct in November 2019 when it wrote, “the most sensational accusations [in this complaint] are easy to dismiss.” Common sense should have prevailed among journalists by then, even as McNulty and pals like Suzanne Staiert furiously tried to keep the fires burning, but the hint of potential scandal in an otherwise boring U.S. Senate primary helped the story to limp along for a bit longer.

Anybody can file an “ethics complaint” with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission — you can do it yourself right now by just downloading the complaint form. The moral of this story is simple: A mere complaint doth not a scandal make.

Also, stop taking calls from Frank McNulty.


Scalia Died Four Years Ago Today. If a SCOTUS Seat Opened, Would Gardner Again Argue for Delay?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Exactly four years ago today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep at a Texas ranch.

About an hour after Scalia’s death was confirmed, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told startled reporters that the “American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” and “therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Five days later, on Feb. 18, 2016, Colorado’s Republican Senator, Cory Gardner, agreed with McConnell that the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice should be delayed until after the 2016 presidential election, which was later won by Trump.

Gardner told fellow conservative Dan Caplis, who was on KNUS radio at the time:

GARDNER: “Again, I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

“We are deep in the heart of a political campaign, a divisive election, a divisive president, who has done nothing but overreached Congress time and time again,” he added. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s well-known health problems appear to be at bay for now, but the question arises of what Gardner would do this time around if Ginsburg’s or another seat became vacant.

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment, but in interviews at the time, he pointed to Democrats who’d made similar arguments about delaying confirmation of a Justice.

If Gardner follows the same logic of his arguments in 2016, he’d again call for delay.

Back in 2016, Gardner went on to join McConnell and other Republicans in denying Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s choice to replace Scalia, even the opportunity for a hearing before the Senate.

In fact, Gardner refused to meet Garland at all.

On March 16, 2016, even before Obama finished introducing Garland to the country, Gardner issued a statement that “our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in the process as the next Supreme Court justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.” In 2016, Gardner’s refusal to meet with Garland earned Gardner a personal rebuke from Obama.

“Sen. Gardner has not been doing his job as a senator,” Obama told The Gazette in a short interview after the Air Force Academy graduation. “He is perfectly free after having met with Judge Garland to conclude that ‘this is not somebody that I am going to vote for.'”

“If we start getting to the point where the Senate operates in such a partisan manner that even someone like Merrick Garland can’t get the courtesy of a hearing and a vote, then that’s going to start breaking down the system to the point where we can’t get any judges confirmed,” he said. “Our system of justice is going to break down, and that’s going to have consequences for all of us.”

After Obama left office, Trump nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were confirmed for Supreme Court positions.


Cory Gardner Gives Trump “Unity” He Denied Barack Obama

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Right-wing agit-prop site Breitbart News ran a notable short piece today, celebrating Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado’s earlier appearance this morning on Fox News to explain his opposition to any measure to restrict President Donald Trump’s war powers concerning action against Iran:

In an interview with Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” Gardner called on his fellow senators to consider how less likely a terrorist would want to attack a country that appears united rather than a divided one.

“I think every senator taking this vote needs to ask a simple question: wilt a terrorist be more likely to strike the United States if they believe we are weak and divided, or will they be less likely to strike the United States if they believe we are strong and united?” advised Gardner. “Today’s resolution will make the United States appear weak and divided should it succeed. That is not a recipe for defending the American people from terrorism.” [Pols emphasis]

He later warned, “Any sign that the United States is weak, any sign that the Congress is divided or trying to fight his ability to take on the terrorists will ultimately lead to greater attacks and vulnerability when it comes to the United States.”

Now, if you’re reading this with no knowledge about Sen. Cory Gardner’s record, you might think that this is how Gardner has consistently felt about the need for “unity” in support of the nation’s vital foreign policy interests: that “politics ends at the water’s edge.” Gardner similarly voted against reeling in American support for the bloody civil war in Yemen through aid to proxy combatant Saudi Arabia, saying “any move to cut off this assistance without a national security rationale will only serve to embolden our enemies.”

But as it turns out, that’s just what Gardner says when a Republican is President:

That’s the very same Cory Gardner, showing the world how “strong and united” the United States was in 2013–after an attack by Syrian government forces using nerve gas-tipped ballistic missiles against civilians near Damascus killed upwards of a thousand people. Gardner claimed that military action in response to this chemical weapons attack “without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.” This came after President Barack Obama told the Syrian government a year prior that use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” obliging an American military response. Ultimately, despite Gardner’s (and the GOP-controlled Congress’) very public display of disunity a deal was brokered that resulted in the removal of most of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

This is far from the only example of Gardner taking a polar-opposite approach to similar actions taken by the two administrations he has served under in Congress. Gardner condemned and voted against President Obama taking military action in Libya in 2011, and Gardner’s helpless sycophancy in response to Trump’s misadventures in diplomacy with North Korea are by this point legendary–and credibility-shredding in contrast to what Gardner said about Obama’s handling of the same issue.

Nobody made Gardner do any of this. Hypocrisy of this magnitude can’t be ignored.


Trump Unleashed: Acquittal Has “Emboldened” President

Really, really great.

When Senate Republicans acquitted President Trump on two impeachment charges on February 5, some foolhardy souls — like Maine Sen. Susan Collinstried to argue that the impeachment process itself would make Trump more introspective and less authoritarian. That message remained digestible about as long as a container of cottage cheese left out on the kitchen counter.

As reports today, Collins can’t run fast enough away from that narrative:

Collins, R-Maine, dodged questions from a reporter Wednesday who pressed her on whether she still believed her claim that President Donald Trump has learned a “lesson” by being impeached.

Collins, along with several other Republicans, defended her vote to acquit Trump in his Senate impeachment trial by arguing that though his actions were “wrong,” he had learned a “pretty big lesson” from being impeached.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) never pretended that Trump would be chastened by his near-impeachment experience (though his acquittal explanation was equally ridiculous), but like Collins, Gardner wants nothing to do with questions about Trump’s behavior since he was officially let off the hook for obstruction of Congress and the extortion of a foreign country for personal gain. That’s because Trump has been an absolute menace in the last 10 days, laying waste to government norms and institutions because he is convinced that he can.

As the Associated Press reports in a frightening story today, Gardner and his fellow Senate Republicans have absolutely made Trump more dangerous — to everyone:

In the week since his acquittal on impeachment charges, a fully emboldened President Donald Trump is demonstrating his determination to assert an iron grip on government, pushing his Justice Department to ease up on a longtime friend while using the levers of presidential powers to exact payback on real and perceived foes.

Trump has told confidants in recent days that he felt both vindicated and strengthened by his acquittal in the Senate, believing Republicans have rallied around him in unprecedented fashion while voters were turned off by the political process,[Pols emphasis] according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Since then, Trump and his aides have moved with haste to clear his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal, reaching all the way back to the time of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Or as Jennifer Rubin writes today for The Washington Post:

Trump isn’t just pushing on Justice Department lawyers — he’s going after the judges, too:

“He’s trying to delegitimize anyone appointed by someone other than him and say that the only people who can be trusted are Trump judges,” said retired federal judge Nancy Gertner in a recent interview.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Some of Trump’s rage-vengeance, like the firing of White House aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, has been widely covered in the media. Other pieces have not. Again, from the AP:

In recent days, the White House has yanked a senior Treasury Department nomination away from a former Justice Department official who supervised the prosecutions of several of Trump advisers. The administration also fired an EPA official who claims he was ousted because he was deemed too friendly with Democrats. [Pols emphasis]

If you don’t train your dog to go to the bathroom outside, then you sure as hell can’t yell at him every time he pisses on the carpet. Senate Republicans taught President Trump that there were no consequences to his actions. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted on Wednesday, Senate Republicans fully own The Orange Scare:

We’ll give the last word to Rubin in The Washington Post:

…without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November.

There aren’t enough reporters on earth for Cory Gardner to blame for this one. For Gardner and Senate Republicans, President Trump is both their leader and their charge.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 13)

Happy “World Radio Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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.


►As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, President Trump is turning the Justice Department into his own political hit squad — with little sign that Senate Republicans will do anything to rein him in:

President Trump, empowered by acquittal in his impeachment trial and allowed free rein by his Republican Senate allies, has waged a war of vengeance and retribution against those who declined to enable his impeachable conduct. Now he has taken a club to the Justice Department.

The Post reports on the four prosecutors who refused to go along with their boss’s directive to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone following Trump’s tweet criticizing the seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation…

…Aside from the Saturday night massacre, we have never seen multiple Justice Department lawyers resign to protest a presidential abuse of power.

Just as Trump tried to engage a foreign government to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and ordered up a probe of Hillary Clinton (which came to nothing), this is an egregious perversion of the rule of law. The president, like a tin-pot dictator, now uses the Justice Department to shield his criminal cronies, putting his finger on the scale in a way no other president has done in the modern era.

Politico has more on the shockwaves of Trump’s Justice Department meddling, while takes a deeper dive into overall problems under Attorney General William Barr.

Meanwhile, CNN Congressional reporter Manu Raju approached Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for comment on Wednesday. This was Gardner’s response:

“I’m sorry…miss my vote.”

As such, Rubin finishes her Washington Post column with an appropriate hammer:

Coming on the evening of the New Hampshire primary, the latest crisis should remind us of the stakes in 2020 and the necessity that Democrats nominate someone who can beat Trump and stop our slide into authoritarianism. It should also remind us that without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November. [Pols emphasis]


► Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Denver this weekend as he campaigns for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but he won’t be the only top candidate coming through our state. From Jon Murray at The Denver Post:

Sanders, the progressive U.S. senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, has set a rally for 6 p.m. Sunday in Denver, inside the Colorado Convention Center’s Exhibition Halls C and D. Doors open at 4 p.m., the campaign says, and the event is open to the public but an RSVP is encouraged via Sanders’ website. (The location was changed to a larger venue from the convention center’s Bellco Theatre, which has a seating capacity of 5,000, due to high demand.)

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, placed a close second Tuesday and narrowly beat Sanders in Iowa last week. He will have a town hall in Aurora at 7 p.m. Feb. 22, according to a campaign event page. The location will be revealed closer to that date, but supporters are encouraged to RSVP on his website…

…Sanders has had a small staff in Colorado for months, and Buttigieg’s campaign, hoping to capitalize on its all-volunteer effort here so far, is expected to announce the hiring of its first three staffers in Colorado on Thursday. Buttigieg’s lead staffer here will be Ken Gonzalez, who has shifted from organizing duties in Iowa, a campaign spokesperson said.

Biden, the former vice president, is scheduled to visit Denver on Monday for a private fundraiser hosted by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He is alone among the major candidates in not having had a large public event in Colorado so far this campaign, though he has been sending surrogates.


► It’s “Hate Week” at the State Capitol. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explains how that moniker applies to what GOP lawmakers are attempting in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast:


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


Think Cory Gardner Wants To Talk Roger Stone? Fat Chance!

Embed from Getty Images

CNN’s Manu Raju reports on the fresh controversy brewing in Washington after the Department of Justice dubiously intervened in the sentencing recommendation for convicted Donald Trump compatriot Roger Stone, prompting the resignation of several prosecutors working the case. We’ll give you three guesses whether Sen. Cory Gardner wanted to talk about Stone’s case, and the first two guesses don’t count:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a vulnerable Republican up for reelection in 2020, avoided questions from CNN today about Roger Stone.

“I’m sorry … miss my vote,” Gardner responded when asked if he is concerned about political interference.

Gardner walked away and didn’t respond to a follow up question asking if he’s concerned about Roger Stone.

Sen. Cory Gardner’s pertinacious refusal to answer questions about scandals involving Donald Trump, long past the point where any such refusal is believable or even at all helpful to Gardner and Republicans politically, has made him a symbol of GOP complicity with Trump’s misdeeds across the nation–from late-night TV to cable news. Here’s another clip to add to a devastating highlight reel you’ll be seeing in the fall in TV ads.

If anything, it’s perhaps noteworthy that Gardner isn’t even using complete sentences now.


How Gardner’s War Against Obamacare Propelled Him to Power–and Is Now a Driver of His Likely Demise

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

At his first campaign rally for U.S. Senate, on a snowy day in 2014 at a Denver lumber yard, Cory Gardner warned that Obamacare was “destroying this country.”

The words may sound harsh today, but they came easily to then-Congressman Gardner. His attacks on the country’s new health care law were a centerpiece of his first successful run for Congress four years earlier, when he raised the specter of 17,000 new IRS agents “storming” America in search of Obamacare cheaters and of the health care law failing because people just wouldn’t sign up.

Torching Obamacare in interviews and ads, Gardner cruised into the House in 2010 and edged his way into the Senate four years later.

But in an irony that’s lost on no one who’s followed Colorado’s Republican senator over his ten years in Washington, Gardner’s long war against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now a driver of his likely downfall.



The GMS Podcast: You’ve Got Questions; These Aren’t Answers

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin preview the New Hampshire Democratic Primary; discuss a wacky vacancy committee for Republicans that doesn’t bode well for their hopes in 2020; and delve into Sen. Cory Gardner’s impeachment debacle. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us once more in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, talking about kill committees; confusing abortion bills; and how Republican lawmakers are rolling out “Hate Week” under the Gold Dome.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

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


Gardner Invents Conflict with Local Media Outlet

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

As we’ve found over the years, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not possess what you would call a strong moral compass. We’re talking about a guy who said in October 2016 that could not support Donald Trump for President — “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” — yet two years later became the first Republican Senator to publicly support President Trump’s re-election campaign. His unequivocal support for Trump in the face of impeachment cemented Gardner as a politician who is really only interested in what he thinks is good for Cory Gardner.

Gardner typically ducks reporters in Colorado and Washington D.C., then emerges to spew red meat gibberish on right-wing radio shows and national conservative outlets like “Fox & Friends.” But that conduct has morphed from evasion to flat-out hostility toward reporters who are just trying to ask obvious and relevant questions. Late last week, Gardner granted an “exclusive” interview to Joe St. George of Fox 31 News in the aftermath of his impeachment vote…then started putting words in the mouth of the reporter so that he could deflect a question with manufactured outrage.

We’ll get back to that in a moment; first, take a look at Gardner’s opening discussion during an appearance on KNUS radio (yes, that one) on Saturday during the show “Wake Up With Randy Corporon“:

CORPORON: Are you back in town?

GARDNER: I am. I was all over the Front Range of Colorado yesterday, and the day before, and today I’ll be out and about again. We were in Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. So it’s good to be back home.

CORPORON: Well, not according to Joe St. George of Fox News. You don’t really get out in Colorado very much…

GARDNER: [Laughing] Well, only if I go where Joe St. George wants me to go is he happy. Apparently the people in Morgan County aren’t important enough to hold town hall meetings with…[Pols emphasis]

Corporon plays a clip of St. George’s interview with Gardner, and then then discussion continues:

CORPORON: You must get so tired of the bias that you get, that’s built-in and inherent in so many of these questions.

GARDNER: It is incredible. You know, I get told by certain media personalities that I should just go back to Yuma and sell tractors. You hear from somebody like that [St. George] who says, ‘Well, you haven’t done a real town hall.’ A real town hall is apparently only in the cities. [Pols emphasis]

And you see CNN — I don’t know if you saw this.  It was in — It was astonishing!  A Don Lemon episode where somebody went on and started making fun of people for not being able to read or write or spell because they supported Donald Trump. I mean, and they wonder why parts of the state wanted to secede years ago. This is — it — it’s — it’s embarrassing to think this country has reached a point where certain segments –half the people — look down on the other half of people because of where they live and who they support politically.

Well, guess what? St. George didn’t actually denigrate Fort Morgan. It was Gardner who picked the fight to make it look that way:

We’d encourage you to watch the clip yourself; it’s pretty unambiguous. Here’s the transcript:

GEORGE: Sir, here in Colorado, many Coloradans want to ask you questions in person about impeachment. You have not held a town hall – public town hall – in this state for two years…

GARDNER: Well, that’s not true, Joe. Just out in Fort Morgan this summer we did a town hall. I know that may not count in terms of the Front Range.

ST. GEORGE: But not…well, exactly. Front Range. People in Denver…

GARDNER: Oh, so the people in Fort Morgan don’t count.

ST. GEORGE: No, people in Fort Morgan count…

GARDNER: That’s where we did a town hall, Joe, and if you’re going to tell people of Colorado that they don’t matter, [Pols emphasis] and I think that’s what’s frustrating with so many people across the state. [Gardner keeps talking over St. George attempts to clarify and then complains about CNN]…

ST. GEORGE: So why no town halls in Denver?

GARDNER: We have continued to do outreaches…to meetings and local businesses, town halls at local businesses…

ST. GEORGE: Not public town halls, though.

GARDNER: We continue to reach out. Joe, there are many ways that we reach out to people. We reach out to people via tele-town halls, their places of work, in individual meetings. We do countless meetings. In fact, I’ll be doing more tomorrow reaching out to Coloradans. We’ve received thousands of pieces of mail, and I’m excited about that. I know the left really wants to push on this, and I’m just not going to take that talking point while we continue to do what’s right by the people of Colorado.

First off, you need to understand that Sen. Gardner has literally not held a town hall meeting in Colorado in more than two years. This is inarguable. The “Fort Morgan” event that Gardner is referring to was a speaking engagement with the Morgan County Republican Central Committee, which is, of course, absolutely NOT a town hall. This nonsense claim from Gardner and his staff has been debunked repeatedly by news outlets.

But the bigger point here is that Gardner is accusing a local television reporter of bias and putting words in his mouth in an effort to make it appear that he denigrated the people of Fort Morgan. Gardner did this last week, and then he went on Corporon’s radio show to weave a bullshit story about media bias that NEVER HAPPENED. Joe St. George didn’t say that people in Fort Morgan “don’t matter.” This is inexcusable conduct from a United States Senator, and we have little doubt that other media outlets in the state will be taking note of Gardner’s actions.

Gardner is mimicking Trump in how he deals with the media. It was bad enough that Gardner was refusing to even return the calls of journalists, but this is something else entirely. Gardner is intentionally creating conflict and putting words in the mouths of other reporters so that he can appear to be some sort of cultural warrior for the right wing. 

It’s wrong. It’s disgusting. And it might only be the beginning for an increasingly-belligerent and cornered Republican Senator in deep trouble in 2020.


Get More Smarter on Monday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Friday; you’re welcome. 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.


President Trump is making his swamp…swampier. Still basking in the orange glow of a Republican Senate cover-up for his impeachment crimes, Trump is taking out his anger on administration officials and staffers who dared speak the truth. As The Atlantic explains in a story titled, “The Crime of Doing the Right Thing“:

Trump managed to wait two days after his Senate acquittal before taking care of family business, as Michael Corleone would put it, with respect to those who had upset him in the Ukraine affair.

[On Friday] he removed from the National Security Council staff Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman—along with Vindman’s twin brother, who served as an NSC attorney, for good measure. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had had the temerity to object to Trump’s “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then committed the unforgivable sin of telling the truth about the matter when the House impeachment investigation sought his testimony. The brothers were, according to reports, escorted out of the White House complex…

…Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who had tried to play both sides—testifying in a fashion that upset Trump while being cagey at first and thus raising questions to House members about his candor. Sondland had managed to please nobody, and his presence on the scene at all was, in any event, a function of his large donation to the presidential inaugural committee. He had bought his way into service at the pleasure of the president and, having done so, proceeded to displease the president.


► After spending the end of last week bumbling and fumbling for a coherent message on why he voted to acquit President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) threw some red meat around in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” Gardner needs these softball interviews, because he keeps bombing with local news reporters asking relevant questions.


► Voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in Presidential Primary race on Tuesday; on the Democratic side of the ledger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders looks like the frontrunner.

Meanwhile, we finally found out who won the Iowa caucuses and associated delegates — well, mostly. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most delegates, while Sanders appears to have won the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is indicating that it will ask for a remcanvass of votes in at least some districts; the current results would assign 14 delegates to Buttigieg and 12 delegates to Sanders. The New York Times breaks down how the Iowa caucuses went so awry for Democrats.

Here in Colorado, mail ballots for the Presidential Primary races will start going out this week; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on what to expect in your mailbox.


► The Trump administration budget is rolling out its new budget proposal, which seeks to cut domestic spending on the backs of Americans relying on Medicaid and food stamps, while also slashing foreign aid by a considerable amount. Via Politico:

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to most federal agency budgets, according to the budget summary tables. The cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.

For example, the administration is seeking an 8 percent cut to USDA’s budget over current funding levels. Trump’s plan would cut the Commerce Department by 37 percent, the Education Department by 8 percent, the Energy Department by 8 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent, and the Department of Health and Human Services by 9 percent.

The administration is also seeking a 13 percent cut to the Interior Department, a 2 percent cut to the Justice Department, an 11 percent cut to the Labor Department, a nearly 21 percent cut to the State Department and a 13 percent cut to the Department of Transportation. The EPA’s budget would see a nearly 27 percent chop, the Army Corps of Engineers would see a 22 percent reduction and the Small Business Administration would see an 11 percent decrease.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, this seems like an odd election-year strategy for Trump:

This new budget is being widely described as a blueprint for Trump’s argument for a second term. It’s actually a very good argument against a second term.


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


Cory Gardner: Evasion at Home, Red Meat on Fox & Friends

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Following the vote last Wednesday afternoon by the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate to acquit President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner has been on a tear of press avails both in Washington, D.C. and back home in Colorado–more availability (voluntary availability, that is) than Gardner has seen fit to grant reporters in either location for a very, very long time.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Jacy Marmaduke sat down with Gardner on Friday to discuss a range of issues from the novel coronavirus outbreak to the recently-concluded impeachment trial. And on the matter of impeachment the Coloradoan pursued Gardner commendably on the essential question he still refuses to answer:

Coloradoan: […] Do you feel that the question here did not at all address whether a president can use political influence to pressure another country for his political gain?

Gardner: I think the question before us was whether we … have a right to investigate how those taxpayer dollars are being used. The policy difference of whether you can or can’t or should or shouldn’t was really the heart of this debate. And a policy difference, a difference of opinion on where the policy could lead you in that question, is not something that should be used for grounds for impeachment.

Coloradoan: Where do you stand, then, on whether a president should be permitted to pressure another nation’s leadership for political gain?

Gardner: I certainly don’t support foreign interference in our elections, if that’s the question. [Pols emphasis] But the question here was about whether or not we have the ability to investigate how our taxpayer dollars are being used.

Of course that was not the question, the question was and is whether a president should be allowed to manipulate foreign policy for domestic political advantage. It’s the same question Gardner spectacularly failed to answer in a nationally-rebroadcast impromptu interview in Denver last October soon after the Ukraine scandal broke. The pretext for Gardner’s evasion may have changed with the end of the impeachment trial, but it’s clear that Gardner is no better prepared to answer this essential question than he was months ago. Like the Denver Post editorial board said last week after the vote to acquit:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner either thinks it’s OK for a president to pressure a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen for personal and political gain or he’s too afraid to criticize this president for doing just that.

We’re not sure which is worse. [Pols emphasis]

On the matter of additional witnesses, which Sen. Gardner voted against hearing, Gardner claims “[The House] said it was overwhelming and airtight, even though they then asked for additional witnesses. I don’t think an 18th witness would’ve done anything.” Of all of the retorts offered by Republicans in defense of their handling of Trump’s impeachment, rejecting witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton because the House somehow “didn’t make their case” is probably the most disingenuous. New evidence continued to flow in well after the House passed the articles of impeachment, and the explosive confirmation of the worst in Bolton’s forthcoming book was simply not known at the time of the House investigation. There’s little reason to expect that Gardner’s answer to this question will ever improve, but the voters of Colorado who supported the impeachment process will never consider this to be a satisfactory answer. It’s part of the reason why Gardner is even less popular in Colorado than President Trump.

As readers can imagine, however, Gardner had a much easier time on the notoriously pro-GOP softball Fox & Friends Thursday morning–a forum where Republicans appear knowing that President Trump himself is probably watching live. After a bit of “come together” platitudes and some damning faint praise for Sen. Mitt Romney, who Gardner bashed indirectly by suddenly remembering all the mean things Democrats said about Romney back in the day, Gardner had a wide-open chance to sling some red meat to the Republican base–and when the interview turned to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pre-recycling of Trump’s State of the Union address, Gardner let his inner nasty slip out:

This is a solemn, constitutionally prescribed occasion, the State of the Union is. And to see a Speaker premeditated embarrassingly rip the State of the Union apart really shows what the House of Representatives is willing to do to our country. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? The House wants to literally tear up the country. Never in history have a dozen sheets of printer paper counted for so much! But this final over-the-top anecdote is illustrative of the dilemma Gardner faces, and has not gone away simply because the impeachment process has reached its foregone conclusion. He remains painfully unable answer the questions that matter, and shoveling irresponsible red meat to the nationwide faithful on Fox & Friends only further alienates Gardner from the majority of Colorado voters.

Trump remains President, but Cory Gardner’s downward spiral continues.


Get More Smarter on Friday (February 7)

Remember that old joke about how your (grand)parents had to walk 10 miles a day to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways? Yeah, well, your kids won’t be able to use that one. 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.


► The 2020 “Thanks for Covering Up for Me on Impeachment” tour is coming to Colorado. President Trump will stump for himself (mostly) and Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs on February 20. If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Orange Guy bloviate in person, this could be your last chance; Colorado isn’t what you’d call a “winnable state” for Trump in 2020, so he may not be back.

Gardner could use all the help he can get for his re-election bid; he’s getting absolutely hammered in Colorado for his inept explanations about why he supported Trump’s acquittal. As the editorial board of The Denver Post writes: “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”


President Trump held court in front of a microphone at the White House on Thursday for an airing of grievances related to his impeachment acquittal. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains, everyone who was in attendance should be ashamed of themselves:

Less than 24 hours after formally being acquitted by the Senate, President Donald Trump riffed for over an hour from inside the White House — a vengeful, angry, fact-challenged spew of score-settling that even for this most unorthodox of presidents was eye-opening in its tone and jaw-dropping in its boundary busting…

…It felt like watching a bully beat up a helpless kid. Sure, the bully is to blame. But the crowd of people surrounding the beating and either cheering or doing nothing at all are far worse.

Trump is Trump. While he stepped beyond where has gone before in many respects during Thursday’s “celebration,” it hard to say that no one saw this coming.

But the complicity of those in attendance — the most powerful people within the Republican Party — is what was truly astounding. Yes, the Republican Party threw in its lot with Trump (and his forced takeover of it) long ago. But to sit by or even celebrate while Trump used the White House as a combination of a campaign venue, or a bathroom wall on which to write his darkest thoughts about those who oppose him, was beyond unforgivable. [Pols emphasis]

Interestingly, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner did not warrant a special shout-out from President Trump:

Meanwhile, President Trump is working on ousting all dissidents — the honest people on payroll — from his administration, as The Washington Post reports.


Surrogates for Democratic Presidential candidates are scheduled to tool around in Colorado this weekend. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is stumping for Elizabeth Warren today and tomorrow. Former “Law & Order” actor Sam Waterston will help open new field offices this weekend for Mike Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in Democratic Presidential candidate news, the campaign for Bernie Sanders is hiring more staff in Colorado and increasing its advertising budget; and State Sen. Julie Gonzales is endorsing Elizabeth Warren.


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


Trump/Gardner Revenge Tour: In Your Face, Colorado!

UPDATE: The Colorado Democratic Party responds via CBS4:

Cory Gardner’s a spineless yes-man who’s sold out Colorado to Donald Trump time and time again. Whether it’s their numerous attacks on Coloradans’ healthcare or raiding millions of dollars from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, it’s no wonder they’re both so profoundly unpopular here in Colorado. We rejected Trump in 2016, and we’ll reject him and his enabler Cory Gardner at the ballot box this November.


President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

As the Denver Post’s Jon Murray reports, Republican morale is running high in the wake of President Donald Trump’s entirely expected acquittal on two articles of impeachment tried in the U.S. Senate–so high, in fact, that President Trump and America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™ Cory Gardner are set to headline a rally later this month (Feb. 20) in Colorado Springs at the 8,000-seat Broadmoor World Arena:

“Sen. Gardner is looking forward to joining President Trump to tout all the great accomplishments they have delivered to Colorado, including the BLM headquarters, Space Force, delivering clean drinking water to 50,000 Coloradans, record low unemployment and more,” Dobkin said. “Senator Gardner is hopeful both Democrats and Republicans will want to celebrate these successes.”

Gardner is up for reelection in November, too. The campaign of one of his Democratic rivals, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, seized on the rally announcement Thursday night by sending out a fresh fundraising appeal to supporters…

And as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reminds us, Trump is keeping a promise he made to Cory Gardner after Gardner came out early to endorse Trump for re-election in 2020–an endorsement that also could be considered a liability in a state where Trump is deeply unpopular:

Gardner has said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but he offered the president an early endorsement for Trump’s reelection campaign this time around.

Trump vowed in December to visit Colorado often to rally support for Gardner. “We have a great senator in Colorado, we have to get him extended. I’ll be there a lot,” Trump said.

Polling has shown that both Trump and Gardner’s Colorado approval ratings are low.

We’ve thoroughly explored in this space the fundamental reason why Gardner is lashing himself tightly to Trump’s prow, even as the state’s increasingly blue election results make that appear politically counterintuitive. Without the Republican base, Gardner has no core constituency to build a majority coalition around. The “success” conservatives have enjoyed in peeling the Republican base away from credible information sources has created a political environment without wiggle room: either you stand with Trump and survive in the conservative information bubble, or you accept the narrative the rest of the world believes about Trump and Trump’s GOP spits you out.

In short, Gardner has cast his lot with the bubble. After Gardner’s (we honestly believe) sincere condemnation of Trump when he called for Trump to exit the presidential race in October of 2016, a shocking moral turnabout has been made here that Gardner has never been asked to explain. This is bigger than Gardner’s vagaries on abortion, bigger than Gardner’s long record of misinformation and broken promises regarding the Affordable Care Act. Gardner’s evolution into Trump’s loyal lieutenant in the last few years, for good or ill, is the defining characteristic of his career in the U.S. Senate.

We don’t think that’s going to end well for Gardner at the polls. Clearly, Gardner disagrees.


A Coward and a Liar: Poor Reviews for Gardner on Impeachment

“Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

The Denver Post (2/6/20)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did what everyone expected him to do yesterday when the Senate voted on two articles of impeachment against President Trump: He covered up for Trump and voted to acquit the President.

What Gardner did not do, however, was find a way to explain his rationale for acquittal in any sort of manner that would make it appear as though he was not just participating in a cover-up. Gardner’s asinine speech on the floor of the Senate was notable mostly for his misinterpretation of Alexander HamiltonGardner’s media interviews on impeachment were, frankly, insulting to Coloradans.

In response to a question from Joe St. George of Fox 31 News about whether the Senate vote set a new precedent for election interference, Gardner had the temerity to exclaim that “foreign interference in our elections is absolutely wrong.”

In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Gardner argued that the impeachment of Trump was really just a policy kerfuffle. “This is a policy question,” he said. “Does the United States have the ability to investigate how its taxpayer dollars are being spent?”

Gardner’s bullshit was swiftly condemned by lawmakers and media outlets alike. Here’s Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who served as one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial, speaking to Colorado Public Radio in response to Gardner’s “policy disagreement” explanation:

“The trial showed unequivocally that that’s just not true. Cory Gardner is not telling the truth there.’’

Crow said further that he believed Gardner was “doing what he feels is politically in his own best interest instead of doing what is right and upholding his oath,” and it’s impossible to argue otherwise. Kyle Clark of 9News had this to say on Wednesday evening:

Hundreds of Democrats and Republicans in Congress faced that central question of whether President Trump did something wrong, and they showed the basic courage to directly answer that question for voters…

But the whole impeachment trial has now come and gone without Senator Cory Gardner ever coming up with the basic courage to directly answer that question. [Pols emphasis]

But the unkindest cut was reserved for the editorial board of The Denver Post, which absolutely lit into Colorado’s Junior Senator on Thursday:

Sen. Cory Gardner either thinks it’s OK for a president to pressure a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen for personal and political gain or he’s too afraid to criticize this president for doing just that.

We’re not sure which is worse.

Gardner failed to address the issue on the floor of Congress while he was explaining to the public his decision to acquit the president on that very question. In subsequent media interviews where he was asked the question directly, he did the trademark Gardner dodge and weave.

That was just the beginning. Here’s the knockout blow:

Gardner once said he would stand up to his own party. Turns out he won’t even be critical of the actions of a member of his own party. He must believe what Trump did was fine. Why won’t he just say that?

Coloradans deserve a senator who will be straightforward and honest with them. Coloradans deserve a senator with a track record of bipartisanship. Coloradans deserve a senator who will call out things that are wrong and work to correct them. Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner. [Pols emphasis]

Ooof. Make sure to take a moment to read the entire Post editorial.

There’s a good reason that even staunch Republicans are sick of Gardner’s crap. He might have helped save Trump’s skin on Wednesday…but nobody will be bailing Gardner out in November.


Cory Gardner Finally Speaks on Impeachment…and WTF???

UPDATE #5 (2:25 pm): Sen. Cory Gardner has voted to acquit President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment.


UPDATE #4 (1:40 pm): Wait, what?

JOE ST. GEORGE: I’m curious about precedent here. Do you believe that this will now allow future Presidents to do this? Will this allow you to ask a foreign leader to investigate John Hickenlooper?

CORY GARDNER: No, look, foreign interference in our elections is absolutely wrong – anytime, any place, anywhere. [Pols emphasis] And I have done a lot to make sure that we eliminate foreign interference in our elections…


UPDATE #3 (1:25 pm): We need to add another question to our list below:

(9) When you were speaking on the Senate floor, were you not aware that Sen. Mitt Romney had already announced that he would vote YES on abuse of power?


UPDATE #2 (1:20 pm): Gardner’s media tour is NOT going well. From Nick Riccardi of the Associated Press:


UPDATE (1:00 pm): Gardner finally speaks on the Senate floor, but his timing is off. Gardner railed on impeachment as a partisan exercise — even though Republican Sen. Mitt Romney had already announced that he would vote YES on the charge of abuse of power against President Trump.

Gardner also complains that the House of Representatives rushed the impeachment process, which doesn’t square at all with the fact that he voted against calling new witnesses — and thus extending the trial — just a few days ago.





BREAKING: Sen. Mitt Romney Will Vote To Convict Trump

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on a monumental development moments ago in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump: Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah will vote to convict and remove Trump from office.

“I swore an oath before God to apply impartial justice. And, as you know, I’m a very religious person. I take that very seriously,” Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told The Salt Lake Tribune ahead of his vote. “And so I looked at the evidence in a very unbiased manner and concluded that that the president had done as was alleged — that he did ask a foreign government to interfere in the election, that he did pressure that government by withholding aid.

“That’s as egregious an assault on the Constitution of our country,” he added, “as I can imagine that a president might make.”

Romney said he will vote to acquit the president on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, because he doesn’t believe the House took all the steps it needed to test the president’s assertion of executive privilege covering witness testimony and documents sought in the inquiry.

Sen. Romney’s vote to convict Trump on the first and most substantial of the impeachment articles assures that the vote to convict will be bipartisan–and we do believe the first presidential impeachment trial conviction vote to attract bipartisan support in American history. While it’s still almost certain that the 67 votes needed to remove Trump from office will not emerge today, Romney’s powerful condemnation of Trump’s conduct throws the defenses of Trump by fellow Republicans ranging from total denial to equivocal admission of a problem into harsh relief.

Sen. Cory Gardner, allegedly due to speak at some point before the final vote, now has a lot less cover to help Trump cover this thing up. Stay tuned for updates — the drama isn’t over yet.


The Get More Smarter Podcast: Impeach the Caucuses!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin discuss the disastrous Iowa caucuses; the final day of the Senate impeachment trial; and what we learned from a couple of big last-minute campaign finance reports. We also chat again with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, covering topics including the death of a puppy mill bill; the latest on efforts to repeal the death penalty; legislation that would allow college athletes to get paid; and how Colorado decided to ditch its Presidential caucus system in favor of holding a straightforward vote. It would be impossible to not Get More Smarter this week!

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at

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Will Cory Gardner Say ANYTHING on Impeachment?

UPDATE: The Senate has adjourned for the day. Gardner did not speak.


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not like talking about the subject of President Trump’s misconduct. He doesn’t talk to reporters or constituents. If he gets cornered by journalists, he melts into a puddle of pitiful talking points or blabbers out some nonsense like, “We have a trial.”

Today is the last day of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Many U.S. Senators, including those facing difficult re-election campaigns in 2020, are explaining how and why they plan to vote for Trump’s acquittal on Wednesday.

But not Cory Gardner.

As CNN’s Manu Raju reported on Monday:

A number of Republican senators on Monday dodged questions about whether President Donald Trump acted appropriately with Ukraine, underscoring the internal GOP divide about his conduct even as the Senate is poised to acquit him later this week on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Many Republicans instead are eager to shift the attention away from the President’s conduct and onto House Democrats, whom they argue failed to prove that Trump’s actions warrant his removal from office. Yet they won’t say if Trump acted appropriately in urging Ukraine to announce investigations that would help him politically, highlighting the fine line many are walking as they seek to avoid angering the President while not endorsing his actions…

Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, would not comment about Trump’s conduct after the closing arguments were delivered on Monday. Gardner last week joined 50 of his GOP colleagues in voting to block any witnesses or subpoenas for documents in the Senate trial.

“We’re still in the middle of this trial,” Gardner said when asked if Trump’s conduct was appropriate. “We still have tomorrow to deliberate and consider. I made my comments about witnesses, and I’m not going to go on screen now that I still think we’re in the middle of an important process.”

After a reporter noted that closing arguments had ended, Gardner said he would reserve his comments for the Colorado press. “I’ll talk to them,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

You can forgive local reporters for not believing that #CoverUpCory plans on speaking with them on the subject of Trump’s transgressions. Our guess is that Gardner’s office will issue some sort of statement once the trial is concluded — “We HAD a trial,” perhaps? — and that will be all we hear from the Yuma Republican. At most Gardner will show up as a guest on some small right-wing radio program in Colorado in the next week, or his office will again convince Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver to pretend to interview him.

Gardner has made it this far without saying anything of substance about Trump, Ukraine, or impeachment; there is little reason to think he’ll break that streak. On the first day of impeachment hearings in the House of Represenatives, Gardner issued a video statement about…some sort of new committee related to the Olympics.

Gardner knows full well that the central arguments in Trump’s defense are complete horseshit, but he’s cool with it. Late last week — after much equivocating and obfuscation — Gardner finally acknowledged (via statement) that he planned to vote against the introduction of new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, all but closing the door on any possibility of a serious accounting of the accusations against President Trump.

We’ll update this post if Gardner actually speaks about his vote on the Senate floor (or anywhere else, for that matter). We don’t need to tell you not to hold your breath.


Get More Smarter on Monday (February 3)

It’s cold, wet, and icy today — please be careful out there, and don’t put stock in weather forecasts from rodents. 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.


Closing arguments are being made today in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, though acquittal appears to be a foregone conclusion — nevermind a new NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll showing that most Americans believe Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. On Friday, Republican Senators blocked efforts to add new witnesses or documents to the impeachment inquiry, effectively ending any hope of a real trial in the Senate.

House impeachment managers are nevertheless making their final case today in the Senate. “Your duty demands you convict President Trump,” said Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) today on the Senate floor. As The Denver Post reports:

The Aurora Democrat spoke first Monday morning as the seven impeachment managers made their final case to the Senate and the American people. He quoted from the nation’s Founding Fathers and former giants of the Senate, such as Daniel Webster, as he urged senators to do what they almost certainly will not do: convict the president and remove him from office. [Pols emphasis]

“I submit to you, on behalf of the House of Representatives, that your duty demands you convict President Trump,” Crow said. “I don’t pretend this is an easy process. It’s not designed to be easy. It shouldn’t be easy to impeach or convict a president. Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy, a tool only to be used in rare instances of grave misconduct, but it is in the Constitution for a reason.

“In America, no one is above the law, even those elected president of the United States, and I would say, especially those elected president of the United States.”

You can watch Rep. Crow’s entire closing argument below:



► Meanwhile, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is still getting a lot of impeachment-related attention…but not in a good way. #CoverUpCory has become a national trend.

The editorial board of The Aurora Sentinel calls out Gardner and his fellow Republicans for their cowardice on impeachment:

America can add Jan. 31, 2020 to the list of the nation’s most appalling blunders.

Defying their sworn duty, overwhelming public opinion and decency, the Republican Party on that day succumbed to fear and corruption in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump.

Friday became historical as the day Senate Republicans refused to seek the truth about just how far the president had gone in blackmailing Ukranian officials, forcing them to undermine Trump’s political opponent…

…Republicans, and the entire nation know full well that a tsunami of truth and facts will eventually wash away Trump’s deceptions and obfuscations. Cowardly members of Trump’s own party, however,  prevented those revelations now.

Instead, Jan. 31, 2020 was the day Senate Republicans like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner shrank in fear and colluded in the scheme to hide Trump’s crimes from the American public. [Pols emphasis]


► It’s caucus day in Iowa. Readers of Colorado Pols will tell you who is going to win tonight. The Washington Post takes a look at how the ghost of Hillary Clinton still haunts Democrats in Iowa. Here’s a primer on the Iowa caucuses and how they will be different than they were in 2016.


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


BOOM! Gardner Barely Cracks $2 Million in Q4

Yes, those numbers stink.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) finally reported his Q4 2019 fundraising numbers this afternoon. They are positively shocking.

Gardner raised just more than $2 million in Q4 — or about 40% less than Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper ($2.8 million raised in Q4). Gardner’s $2,030,797 end-of-year filing includes $334,000 in committee transfers, meaning that his campaign only actually raised about $1.63 from actual contributors.

The obvious takeaway here is bad news for Gardner. In Arizona, incumbent Sen. Martha McSally DOUBLED Gardner’s Q4 fundraising. Like Gardner, McSally is running for re-election in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country in 2020. Unlike Gardner, Republican donors appear to be interested in helping McSally get re-elected. Gardner has $7.7 million cash on hand after five years in the U.S. Senate; McSally has $7.6 million in the bank and has only been in office for one year (she was selected to fill the end of John McCain’s term).

We’ll leave the last word for Gardner’s own campaign, which must be getting dizzy from so much ridiculous spin. Gardner Campaign Manager Casey Contres is calling his boss’s Q4 fundraising “historic,” which is certainly true — just not in a good way.


Romanoff Posts Awful Q4 Fundraising Numbers

Andrew Romanoff

Former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, one of many candidates seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 2020, filed his Q4 2019 fundraising report this afternoon…

It’s not good.

Romanoff reported raising about $313,000 in the last three months of 2019, leaving his campaign with roughly $686,000 cash on hand to start 2020. He also reported spending about $352,000 in Q4, which puts his burn rate somewhere south of terrible and well beyond anything sustainable.

These numbers would be fine if Romanoff were a candidate for Congress, but they are catastrophic for someone seeking a U.S. Senate seat in what is expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country in November. Here’s how Romanoff’s numbers compare to some of the other fundraising reports from the last quarter:


Romanoff can probably list a number of reasons as to why his fundraising has been so poor, but it doesn’t really matter why he is having trouble raising money. In 2020, you cannot win a U.S. Senate seat with a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Democratic frontrunner John Hickenlooper is putting together the necessary resources to win a tough U.S. Senate race after joining the field in late August. Romanoff has been a candidate for twice as long but has raised only about one-fifth of what Hickenlooper has reported.

Tomorrow is the first day of February in an Election Year. Romanoff is out of time.