Trump Reaches “Old Man Yells at Cloud” Stage of Campaign

Things are not going well for President Trump. Ballots are being cast in record numbers across the country, and polling shows that Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden maintains an historic lead over Trump as we enter the final two weeks of the 2020 election cycle. To nobody’s surprise, Trump is not reacting well to any of this…but he’s still figuring out new ways to make a fool of himself.

Trump is making new headlines today for attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, because Fauci won’t help him pretend that the coronavirus is no longer a problem. As The New York Times explains:

President Trump attacked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, as “a disaster” on Monday and said, despite experts’ warnings that the nation was headed toward another peak in the coronavirus outbreak, that people were “tired” of hearing about the virus and wanted to be left alone.

He made the remarks during a call with campaign staff that reporters listened in on. Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, began the call by talking about the Republican ground game and other factors that he said supported Mr. Trump’s path to victory.

But the president had other things on his mind. “People are tired of Covid,” he complained. “I have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had. And we have Covid. People are saying, ‘Whatever. Just leave us alone.’ They’re tired of it.”

He added, “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong.” [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Trump also called Dr. Fauci a “nice” guy, but he said, “He’s been here for 500 years,” and added, “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy’s a disaster.”

One of these men is a trusted source of information about public health matters. The other is the President.

This rhetoric does not match with a much-criticized campaign advertisement in which the Trump campaign uses Fauci’s comments out of context in order to make it look like The Big Orange Guy has done everything possible to contain COVID-19. Trump’s attacks on Fauci are also at odds with public opinion; according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in September, 68% of Americans trust Dr. Fauci to provide accurate information about the pandemic, compared to a 40% rating for Trump. Even Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who is as much as Trump sycophant as anyone, has called Dr. Fauci a “national treasure.

Perhaps Trump is escalating his attacks on Fauci because he’s having trouble landing other messages directed toward 2020 voters. During a campaign rally in Nevada on Sunday night, Trump tried to woo suburban women to support his re-election campaign by claiming that he has made their dishwashers more efficient.

No, seriously. This is what Trump said on Sunday:

“Go buy a dishwasher. I said what’s wrong with this thing? It doesn’t clean the dishes right. The women come up to me, the women who they say don’t like me — they actually do like me a lot. Suburban women, please vote for me. I’m saving your house. I’m saving your community. I’m keeping your crime way down.”

As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

OK, so. The logic behind this argument goes like this.

1. Suburban women are the ones who do the dishes in their households
2. Dishwashers make doing the dishes easier
3. Trump made the water pressure in dishwashers better
4. Dishwashers now work better
5. Suburban women must vote for Trump

Yes, really. That’s the logic.

Historians will argue for centuries about the great dishwasher debate of 2020.

Trump has long been obsessed with the idea that government regulations have led to decreased water pressure. As National Public Radio reported in December 2019:

On the night that the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump, he delivered a two-hour campaign rally speech that took a detour — into the bathroom. His long riff about plumbing, household appliances and lightbulbs had the crowd in Battle Creek, Mich., cheering and laughing along…

“Remember the dishwasher, you’d press it. Boom — there’d be like an explosion. Five minutes later, you open it up, the steam pours out,” Trump said reminiscing about dishwashers that used more energy and water to wash and dry dishes. “Now you press it 12 times. The women tell me, again. They give you like four drops of water.”

Setting aside his assumption that women are the ones who do dishes, Trump also shared his thoughts on faucets and shower heads. [Pols emphasis]

At Trump’s behest, actual federal government employees have been spending time in recent months working to change federal laws intended to improve water efficiency and reduce waste, but as The Associated Press noted in August, this is not an issue that anybody really cares about:

Andrew DeLaski and officials at Consumer Reports said there’s been no public outcry or need for change. The Department of Energy’s own database of 12,499 showerheads showed 74% of them use two gallons or less water per minute, which is 20% less than the federal standard.

It’s hard to say if talking about dishwashers is more or less insulting to suburban women than promising to keep them safe from scary brown people, which had been Trump’s focus prior to Sunday’s rally.

Elections are about choices. If you believe that Dr. Fauci is an alarmist and that the real problem in America is water pressure, then Trump is absolutely your guy in 2020. We have no doubt that Joe Biden is more than happy to have the support of everyone else.

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Oops! Joe Ricketts Botches Cory Gardner Rescue Mission

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A press release last Thursday from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper’s campaign took note of a late investment in the flagging fortunes of GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner by Joe Ricketts, the billionaire owner of the Chicago Cubs:

With ballots already coming in at record speed, Senator Cory Gardner’s wealthy corporate backers are panicking about losing their top ally in the U.S. Senate and pumping another million dollars into false ads. Hickenlooper for Colorado press secretary Ammar Moussa released the following statement regarding the latest attack from Gardner’s shady billionaire backers:

“With 19 days left to vote in Colorado, Cory Gardner’s billionaire friends are throwing everything and the kitchen sink to attack John Hickenlooper and lie about Gardner’s toxic record. After collecting from Cory Gardner’s trillion dollar tax giveaway, billionaire Joe Ricketts and his super PAC are rewarding Senator Gardner with a million dollars worth of false attack ads and desperate greenwashing. These attacks will do nothing to erase Cory Gardner’s record of rubber stamping Trump’s agenda, from a trillion dollar gift to the wealthiest people and largest corporations to ramming through a Supreme Court nominee while refusing to get desperately-needed COVID relief done.”

The campaign runs through a brief history of Joe Rickett’s lowlights, including some heartfelt Islamophobia and–naturally–“birther” theories about Barack Obama’s citizenship back when that was all the rage. All told, Ricketts is the kind of donor that Gardner probably doesn’t want in the headlines while he struggles with a double-digit deficit in every poll. But with respect to Rickett’s ads for Gardner in Colorado, sharp-eyed observers were quick to spot a more fundamental problem:

Grand Canyon in pro-Cory Gardner ad

That’s the Grand Canyon, folks. In Arizona.

In the annals of Colorado politics, one of the most lampoonable errors that can be committed in campaign ads is the substitution of non-Colorado scenic vistas for perfectly suitable beauty spots that abound in our state. Cory Gardner, who banks heavily on his multi-generational Colorado heritage, has managed to avoid this embarrassing faux pas being attached to his image.

Thanks to Joe Ricketts, Gardner is now the butt of one of Colorado’s most humiliating inside jokes.

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The GMS Podcast: Laura Packard and Mayor Michael Hancock

We’ve got two big interviews his week on The Get More Smarter Podcast.

First, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Laura Packard — health care activist, stage-four cancer survivor, and a powerful voice against Republicans who want to destroy the Affordable Cara Act. Next, we talk with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to discuss Denver’s lengthy ballot,  rising COVID-19 concerns, Black Lives Matter protests, and right-wing disinformation campaigns (the City of Denver is, in fact, not a smoking pile of rubble).

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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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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Team Gardner Hunkers Down with Bucket of Rocks

UPDATE: You tell ’em, Team Gardner! This is totally not sad or anything.

—–

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is not going to be re-elected next month. The writing was on the wall this week, and today it became super-duper official when a major Democratic SuperPAC decided to pull out of Colorado altogether.

Gardner and his staff understand that there will be no second term for the Yuma Republican, and they’re not handling the news very well. As Alex Burness of The Denver Post reported, Gardner popped up in Aurora today and then refused to talk to the media:

It is a bit weird to avoid the media when you’re a candidate for an election that is just two-and-a-half weeks away, but that’s what Gardner has continued to do (just recently, Gardner refused an interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio). It’s also very strange to do what Gardner spokesperson Jerrod Dobkin did next on Twitter:

Gardner spokesperson Jerrod Dobkin, in full bridge-burning mode.

This did not go over well with Cindi Andrews, senior politics editor at The Denver Post:

You don’t have to be happy about spending the next couple of weeks stuck in an alley with no exits, but there’s a middle ground you could occupy that doesn’t include macing your own face. Sadly, that is not part of the plan here; a few minutes later, Gardner Campaign Manager Casey Contres dove into the mosh pit:

Team Gardner is trying to portray Burness as some sort of paid left-wing shill, which is: a) Stupid, B) Pointless, and C) Not without irony. Perhaps Dobkin and Contres can also explain why Gardner regularly dodges reporters from EVERY media outlet.

You don’t always get to control whether you win or lose, but you can always control how you react to the outcome. Some people, like 2016 Senate candidate Jon Keyser, stick their fingers in their ears and hide in a dark room. Others lash out inexplicably.

Dobkin and Contres are very sad because their campaign is in the crapper, so they’re trying to make themselves feel better by bashing the media on Twitter. This isn’t going to prevent them from going down the toilet; they’re just going to end up with more shit on their clothes at the end.

But hey, some people must like the smell.

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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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Cory Gardner Totes a Fishing Pole, Not a Gun, in NRA Political Ad

(Maybe it’s one of them gun poles — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

An unarmed Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) shows off his fishing pole.

Cory Gardner brought a fishing pole to gun fight.

The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) latest digital ad for Cory Gardner stresses not just that he’s your choice for “defending the Second Amendment” but specifically, “your right to self-defense.”

Pretty standard stuff for a Republican senator with a history of voting solidly with the NRA, and for cashing millions of dollars of campaign checks from the group. It’s one of several Facebook ads the NRA has run on Gardner’s behalf over the past two months, spending about $10,000 per week.

However the ad doesn’t show Cory packing heat, but rather a fishing pole. The NRA and other gun groups advocate for a very broad interpretation of “bearing arms,” but I doubt even the most diehard supporters believe the Second Amendment covers spin rods.

NARRATOR: “Cory Gardner knows your right to self-defense is essential. Vote freedom first. Vote Cory Gardner for Senate.”

The list of Republican campaign ads featuring candidates and firearms is longer that than the ammo belt feeding Rambo’s machine gun, so the NRA non sequitur B-roll video of Gardner begs the question: is it possible that a Republican senator with an “A” rating from the NRA doesn’t have a single image toting a shotgun or hunting rifle?

One can only imagine the response from gun rights activists if a Democratic candidate ran a similar ad.

Given that the narrator specifically mentions the “right to self-defense,” one would think an image of a firearm would make sense.

Unless, of course, the ad is targeting brown trout.

This opinion column first appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder.

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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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Colorado Is Voting In Historic Numbers

It’s unprecedented:

Much as we have no frame of objective reference with which to compare John Hickenlooper’s game-ending $22 million fundraising haul in the third quarter, there is simply no way to adequately put in perspective the massive and swift rate of return of ballots that just arrived this week in Colorado mail boxes; after all, this is our first experience with voting during a global pandemic. Nevertheless, here’s the breakdown of returned ballots by party affiliation as of yesterday, also showing an historic shift:

In previous Colorado mail ballot elections going back to the first in 2013, the prevalent trend for ballot returns has been Republican voters quickly getting their ballots back to county clerks, with Democrats filling in later and through Election Day. In 2020, this trend is completely reversed, with Democratic ballots flying back to clerks in unprecedented numbers and Republicans a distant third behind unaffiliated voters. It’s been suggested that this may be due to more Republicans choosing in-person voting on Election Day citing President Donald Trump’s baseless conspiracy theorizing about mail ballots. Or, we’re seeing dampened enthusiasm from Republicans in the face of an oncoming Democratic landslide.

Either way, Democrats in Colorado we’ve talked to are in something close to a state of disbelief over what’s happening, and determined to avoid becoming complacent until this election is not just over, but mutually agreed to be over–a point that, the bigger the landslide, the faster we’ll arrive for the good of the whole country.

We can’t predict outcomes everywhere, but we’re looking at an early election night in our state.

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Gardner Misses Bipartisan Softball on Amendment B

The final U.S. Senate debate of the 2020 election cycle — in Colorado, at least — took place on Tuesday night in Ft. Collins. The big headline of the night was Sen. Cory Gardner’s inexplicable decision to answer “YES” to the question, “Do you think President Trump is a moral and ethical man,” but Gardner also missed another opportunity on an issue that would have helped him pretend to be a bipartisan lawmaker.

Gardner frequently touts a nonsense bipartisan rating from “The Lugar Center” that has been repeatedly fact-checked as ridiculous. Gardner mentioned his Lugar Center rating again on Tuesday, but he later made it clear that he opposes Amendment B, the 2020 ballot measure that seeks to rid Colorado of the no-longer-helpful Gallagher Amendment.

Gardner’s opposition to Amendment B is interesting, because this is one of the few bipartisan safe spaces left in the 2020 cycle. Democratic heavyweights such as Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper both support repealing the Gallagher Amendment, but so do prominent Republicans such as former Sen. Hank Brown, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, former State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, and virtually every state Republican lawmaker on the Western Slope.

Because the Gallagher Amendment puts a significant strain on small businesses and local government services, including schools, fire stations, and all of our first responders and frontline health workers in Colorado, Amendment B has a broad section of support among business groups and labor unions alike. Amendment B is also particularly important for rural areas, which Gardner talks about frequently, as well as Colorado agriculture; unless Amendment B passes, farmers and ranchers stand to pay a tax rate that is five times more than what homeowners currently pay in Colorado.

If nothing else, Gardner’s public opposition to Amendment B may help clarify the issue for voters still pondering which oval to darken on their ballot.

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Who Wears it Better (Theoretically)?

The U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat John Hickenlooper is out with a new Spanish-language television ad featuring former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. As you can see yourself, there’s something…different about Salazar:

Apparently, Ken Salazar is rocking a mustache these days. Since we could all use a little lighthearted humor with the election cycle finishing up its final three weeks, we wondered how other Colorado politicians might look if they decided to change up their style by adding the ol’ face caterpillar.

Clockwise from top left: John Hickenlooper, Cory Gardner, Joe Neguse, Ken Buck, Jared Polis, Doug Lamborn

Now, we’ve long been of the opinion that politicians who want to be re-elected should avoid a mustache at all costs, but what say you, Polsters?

Click after the jump to vote on which one of these imaginary facial decorations works best…

 

(more…)

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Seriously? “Four Corners” Cory Gardner Blows Off Grand Junction

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Say Anything).

Yesterday, the Grand Junction Sentinel’s editorial board published their research into Colorado’s two U.S. Senate candidates. The newspaper didn’t endorse a candidate in keeping with their policy this year, but nonetheless made clear they were most displeased by the choice of incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner to decline to meet with them.

That’s right, folks–the same Cory Gardner who regularly lambastes his opponent John Hickenlooper for “only caring about the Front Range” apparently couldn’t make time to talk with the Western Slope’s newspaper of record:

We can’t say we were surprised that Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner declined to meet with the Sentinel’s editorial board because it’s part of a pattern…

It makes sense, perhaps, that Gardner was reluctant to meet with The Denver Post, which famously took back its endorsement of his 2014 bid for the Senate. But the Western Slope is GOP-friendly territory and we were willing to reserve judgment on Gardner’s first term in the Senate until we had given him a chance to defend his positions.

…Gardner’s unwillingness to answer tough questions leaves us empty and disturbed. If he manages to retain his Senate seat having studiously avoided newspapers and townhall meetings across the Western Slope, what incentive does he have to answer directly to the people ever again? [Pols emphasis]

In contrast, Hickenlooper met at length with the Sentinel’s editorial board, and reportedly impressed them with his willingness to engage on any question including the less comfortable ones. Readers will recall that back in August when Hickenlooper announced he wouldn’t be attending the Club 20 annual conference debates, Gardner’s campaign howled ad nauseum how it proved Hickenlooper “does not care about the Western Slope.”

“John Hickenlooper does not care about the Western Slope, and his refusal to debate outside the I-25 corridor proves it,” Gardner’s spokesman, Jerrod Dobkin, said Monday morning. “Both Democrat and Republican leaders across western Colorado today are pleading with Hickenlooper to stop ignoring them, but Hickenlooper couldn’t care less.

“Colorado deserves a Senator like Cory Gardner who represents the entire state, not someone like Hickenlooper whose party bosses in D.C. call all the shots.”

Just yesterday in the Summit Daily News, Gardner said this in an op-ed:

I’ve worked hard for Colorado during the past six years, and I’m dedicated to building on the successes of my first term in office. During my time in the U.S. Senate, I’ve worked tirelessly for all four corners of Colorado, regardless of ZIP code, delivering real results for Coloradans from Sedgwick to Durango…

But not, apparently, for Grand Junction–or at least nothing worth bragging about to the Grand Junction Sentinel. Although it’s reasonable to expect that Gardner will carry Mesa County in the elections, this was an excellent opportunity for Gardner to burnish his “all four corners of Colorado” credentials, and an unforced error to refuse. After vilifying his opponent for not making himself available to the hinterland, Gardner just gave Hickenlooper the perfect retort.

Cory Gardner, once again, doesn’t practice what he preaches.

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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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ICYMI: Desperate Gardner Speeds Through 3rd Senate Debate

Sen. Cory Gardner’s “this is going well” face.

The candidates for U.S. Senate in Colorado — Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and Democrat John Hickenlooper — took part in the third of four planned debates on Friday evening. Sponsored by Denver7, The Denver Post, and Colorado Public Radio, this 90-minute debate was more substantial than the first debate between the two candidates but stuck out immediately because of Gardner’s frantic overeagerness to cram as many words as possible into each 60-second answer.

As Mike Littwin wrote for The Colorado Sun, Friday’s debate was a perfect example of Gardner’s overly-polished and desperate efforts to change the narrative on a race that keeps trending away from him:

Gardner would win any debate with Hickenlooper on points. He’s more stylish. He’s far better on his feet. But you have to wonder if voters see Gardner as too clever by half. [Pols emphasis] Maybe the most telling statistic in the SurveyUSA poll was the comparable favorability ratings of the two candidates. Hick came in slightly above water at 48 favorable to 45 unfavorable. Gardner was well underwater with 38% favorable and 50% unfavorable.

Gardner is indeed a slick debater, but on Friday he came off once again as a bit too slick. Gardner was talking so fast that you could hear him breathing heavily when Hickenlooper or one of the other moderators were speaking. From the very first question, Gardner sounded like his voice was stuck on fast-forward. Hickenlooper did an admirable job of keeping his composure, but eventually let out an exasperated laugh after one of Gardner’s especially strained “overcaffeinated hamster” routines.

It was hard as a viewer to not feel anxiety listening to Gardner’s rapid-fire speaking style. We broke down the first two answers from Gardner and Hickenlooper in order to compare their speech patterns. Gardner’s responses averaged about 3.4 words per second, which translates to roughly 204 words per minute (wpm). Hickenlooper spoke at a pace of about 2.5 words per second, or 150 wpm.

Now, let’s provide some context for these numbers. According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average conversational rate for English speakers in the United States is about 150 words per minute — or right at Hickenlooper’s pace. Gardner speaks MUCH faster; in fact, he speaks at a rate that is  closer to an auctioneer than an average person.

Gardner even speaks faster than motivational speaker Tony Robbins, whose TED talk clocks in at around 201 wpm.

Watch for yourself, if you can:

Hickenlooper, for his part, was perceptibly more aggressive in responding to Gardner than in his first non-televised debate in Pueblo just over a week ago–but even this greater willingness to engage with Gardner was a reassuring contrast between Gardner’s frenetic sales pitch and Hickenlooper’s far more personable delivery. An excellent example came about seven and a half minutes into the video above, Hickenlooper blows up Gardner’s record on health care using a fraction of the words Gardner used to make his case:

HICKENLOOPER: First, let me just take a moment. And Cory is a fast speaker, very slick. I think you’re going to hear tonight a lot of attacks. You’re going to hear distortions, exaggerations, some outright lies. Let’s answer this question. The Affordable Care Act provided not universal coverage but dramatically increased coverage in this country, and did — as you point out — provide relief for kids in that in between age. They can stay on their parent’s plan. Protections for pre-existing conditions. I believe we have to build on the affordable care act. That’s what Barack Obama built as a foundation. And I think a sliding scale, public option gets us a long way there. Cory says that he has a bill that will provide for protecting…for extending the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. There’s no there there. They’ve had a number of — five different fact checkers say, it’s a sham. Channel 9, the other station, called it horse excrement.

After Gardner’s first debate, which was streamed to a smaller audience than either Friday night’s debate or Tuesday’s debate hosted by 9NEWS, we honestly expected Gardner’s handlers to slow his cadence down to a more conversational level that would be better received by viewers. Not only did they fail to slow Gardner down, Gardner came out with his spring so tightly wound that the desperation of every answer was excruciating to listen to. At this point, like Gardner’s fatal attraction to Donald Trump itself, we don’t think Gardner can change.

Like Charlie Sheen, Cory Gardner has one speed. One gear. Go.

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William Perry Pendley Says [Expletive] This Court

Still BLM Director William Perry Pendley whether you and some judge like it or not.

As the Casper Star-Tribune reports via the Colorado Sun–remember that court ruling a couple of weeks ago that ordered acting Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley to stop serving as acting director, after his nomination after over a year in that position to be confirmed by the Senate as the non-acting director was pulled under a cloud? The ruling the Trump administration claimed it would abide by while it appeals, even though Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says there will be no new nominee?

If you thought anybody in Trump’s White House had any intentions to follow that court order, which under any other administration would be something you could count on, the joke’s on you:

“I have not been ousted. That is not true,” Pendley, the Bureau of Land Management’s deputy director of policy and programs, said during an interview with the Star-Tribune on Thursday…

Pendley said he firmly disagreed with the court’s decision and has continued to fulfill his duties as assigned.

“We are going to recognize that authority of the court and will obey it,” he said, adding, “now the Secretary (Bernhardt) is signing all of our (BLM) documents.”

Last weekend, Michael Karlik of the Colorado Springs Gazette interviewed Interior Secretary Bernhardt who defended Pendley’s record as acting BLM director, while promising again that the administration would obey the judge’s order removing Pendley from his position despite disagreeing with it. But it’s clear at this point that neither Bernhardt nor Pendley had any intention of complying with the spirit of U.S. District Judge Brian Morris’ ruling, and that a change in who signs off on decisions that continue to be made by Pendley is not going to mean anything.

Asked about Pendley in a debate last week, as E&E News reports, Sen. Cory Gardner predictably dodged the question:

Asked whether Pendley should still be in BLM’s leadership at all — he is officially BLM’s deputy director of policy and programs — Gardner skirted the issue.

“He hasn’t been confirmed, hasn’t had a hearing yet,” Gardner said.

Moderator Anne Trujillo, a Denver7 news anchor, reiterated the question: “Should he still be in a leadership role?”

Gardner replied: “He’s not been confirmed, and the courts have said he’s not.”

Trujillo responded: “That’s not the question, sir.” [Pols emphasis]

Gardner replied: “We have to have a hearing on this.”

Now that Pendley is bragging about how the court ruling that gave Gardner room to dodge questions about Pendley during Friday’s debate is meaningless, this is a matter Gardner has to address now. Is Gardner actually going to call for hearings into Pendley continuing to run the Bureau of Land Management in all but title?

That would be news, folks.

As for Pendley himself? Short of sending in the marshals, for which critics of the Trump administration have already formed a lengthy fruitless queue, there’s only one way to drain this swamp–three weeks from tomorrow. Pendley, and the troubled record of the “leaderless” Bureau of Land Management during Donald Trump’s term in office, are the voters’ problem to resolve now.

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Denver Post (Mostly) Exorcises Itself of Cory Gardner

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Six years ago, the Denver Post editorial board delivered an endorsement of Cory Gardner to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in the 2014 U.S. Senate race that outraged and demoralized Colorado Democrats ahead of an election they went on to lose by less than two percent of the vote.

Although the relative value of newspaper endorsements is perennially disputed by the side who doesn’t get the nod, in retrospect it is generally acknowledged that the Post’s endorsement of Gardner was indeed a factor in Gardner’s narrow victory–in no small part due to specific assurances offered by the editorial board that concerns about Gardner’s threat on “culture war” issues was overblown:

If Gardner had been a cultural warrior throughout his career, we would hesitate to support him, because we strongly disagree with him on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. But in fact he has emphasized economic and energy issues (and was, for example, an early supporter among Republicans of renewable energy).

For that matter, his past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable. And contrary to Udall’s tedious refrain, Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.

In March of 2019, following Gardner’s about-face on President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to obtain funds for construction of Trump’s wall on the southern U.S. border, the Post’s editorial board admitted that for this and so many other reasons brought to light by Trump’s presidency, their 2014 endorsement was a mistake:

We endorsed Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 because we believed he’d be a statesman. We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring “fresh leadership, energy and ideas.”

We see now that was a mistake – consider this our resolution of disapproval.

In today’s endorsement of former Gov. John Hickenlooper to unseat Gardner, the Post’s institutional regret for their 2014 endorsement of Cory Gardner, widely credited rightly or wrongly with steepening the Post’s circulation decline in subsequent years, is blisteringly apparent:

Gardner declined to meet with The Denver Post editorial board for our endorsement process. In part, we are sure, that is because of a harsh editorial we wrote in 2019 after he didn’t join 12 other Republicans to repudiate the fake emergency declaration President Donald Trump used to steal congressionally appropriated funds from the Department of Defense. “Gardner could still prove to be a great senator for Colorado, a man who puts his state and his principles above party and politics,” we wrote concluding it was a mistake to endorse him in 2014 if he was not going to stand on principle when the nation needed him most.

Gardner traded unyielding party fealty for election-year favors: the Arkansas Valley Conduit, moving dozens of Bureau of Land Management employees to Colorado, and securing billions of dollars a year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase additional public lands and pay for a backlog of projects in our nation’s parks.

The price for these wins was too steep at the federal level. [Pols emphasis] President Donald Trump reigned unchecked — crashing through norms, knocking down constitutional protections, stirring up racial animus, leaving American allies abroad out in the cold, and claiming more and more authority for the executive branch of government. Gardner had many opportunities to oppose the administration’s “burn it down” approach to governance. Instead, he joined the enablers who turned a blind eye to Trump’s corruption.

It’s troubling that nowhere in this endorsement does the Post address the enormous mistake they made in 21014 in declaring that “Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.” The solidification of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court since Trump took office, now on the verge of a 6-3 majority, has placed abortion rights in Colorado and across the nation in immediate danger–a shift Gardner is directly responsible for with his actions as a U.S. Senator. The case made by the Post to remove Gardner from office for his fealty to Trump over Colorado is correct, but missing a crucial detail directly relevant to Coloradans’ votes–both for Gardner and Proposition 115, the abortion ban measure on the ballot this year.

For today, though, the Post has done a great deal to put this regrettable decision six years ago by a different editorial board behind them. Gardner’s victory in 2014, against the prevailing political trends in the state before and since, damaged reputations and ruined friendships across Colorado’s political class. Gardner’s defeat next month, assuming the polls are correct, marks the end of the greatest electoral error by Colorado in a generation.

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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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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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Senior Trump Campaign Advisor John Pence Stumps With Colorado Republicans

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senior Trump campaign advisor John Pence (left) prepares to speak at his first of multiple campaign events in Colorado today.

Senior Trump campaign advisor and Vice Presidential nephew John Pence is stumping for Colorado Republicans’ campaign events today. He joined state senate candidate Doug Townsend at a small front yard event in Denver’s Montclair neighborhood. In his introduction Townsend noted that Pence, “works closely with the White House Office of Political Affairs and the Republican National Committee to organize the President’s political activities.”

Pence spoke in broad strokes about the need to vote Republican, not only at the statehouse level but for Cory Gardner and Donald Trump.

“Your great Senator Cory Gardner needs to be sent back to Washington for six more years,” said Pence. “He’s fighting for common-sense, pro-growth policies. He’s also fighting for the beauty of Colorado. He championed the Great American Outdoors Act- the largest piece of environmental legislation to be passed since the days of President Roosevelt.”

Pence characterized the election in the direst of fundamental terms:

“My uncle likes to talk about how usually elections are about Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, but this election is about whether America remains America. Whether we see the greatness that is this country. Whether we stand for this land of the free because of the brave, or whether we accept the notion that America is systematically this or systematically that.” [He may have meant ‘systemically.’]

He also emphasized “law and order,” and decried the property damage that accompanied some of the widespread protests against police brutality. “There’s a freedom of expression in America,” Pence warned. “There is not a freedom of destruction in America.”

(more…)

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LISTEN: Cory Gardner at Peak Ridiculousness

Is this the face of a man who is about to feed you a tractor full of manure? Well, yes, it is.

Anyone who reads this website or follows Colorado politics in general is well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) really has only one political superpower: Obfuscation.

Gardner has mastered the ability of saying many words in a particular order so that the end result is a completely nonsensical response to your question. It doesn’t matter what issue is on the table — Gardner will say nothing about anything, from health care and coronavirus to gun safety and immigration.

Gardner’s powers of obfuscation have begun to fail him in recent years, forcing him to adopt a Plan B that is basically just running away from the questioner. But a new story from The Huffington Post reminds us of Gardner’s abilities when he was still operating at peak ridiculousness:

Facing an uphill battle for reelection in a state where two-thirds of registered voters polled last month said they favored a Senate candidate who promised “aggressive action” on climate change, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) has billed himself as a “national leader” on climate issues and run three separate ads casting himself as a pragmatic environmentalist.

But in a 2017 audiotape HuffPost obtained, Gardner squirms out of questions about what is causing climate change, instead leaning into conspiratorial thinking that efforts to curb carbon emissions are part of a larger plan to “control the economy.”

“There are people who want to control the economy as a result of their belief about the environment,” Gardner said in a previously unpublished interview with a local newspaper columnist in his native Yuma County in rural eastern Colorado. “Absolutely, there are.”

This 2017 interview with Gardner was conducted by Gregory Hill, a novelist who lives in Gardner’s hometown of Yuma and writes a weekly column for the Yuma Pioneer. The interview has not previously been made public, as Huff Post reports, because Hill was essentially bullied into backing off by Gardner staffers:

Following their testy Tuesday morning call three years ago, Gardner’s team contacted Tony Rayl, the editor of the Yuma Pioneer, to complain about the columnist’s tone and ask whether Hill truly worked for the paper. Hill, who said he is on the autism spectrum and reacts angrily when someone appears to be evading simple questions, was embarrassed at losing his temper.

“I felt like a failure,” he said in a phone call with HuffPost. And in a county of roughly 10,000 people, he didn’t want his mostly conservative neighbors to see him as “the shrill, hysterical version of the liberal that they already have in their mind.”

The senator’s staffers reinforced that feeling. “It felt like this intimidation thing that worked,” Hill said. “It worked on me more than anybody.” So the interview didn’t run in 2017.

Gardner’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

I just do this and words come out.

We’d encourage you to listen to the entire exchange, which is embedded below, to get the full flavor of Gardner’s obfuscation. You can practically hear his shit-eating grin in excruciating back-and-forth dances like this one:

“I certainly think that the climate is changing,” Gardner said.

“I’ve heard you say that before,” Hill responded. “But here’s my question: Is it changing as a consequence of the human introduction of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds into our atmosphere?”

“Well, I don’t think there’s any doubt that humans have an impact on the environment around us,” Gardner said.

Hill grew audibly frustrated. “Let’s be clear, because when I step outside and exhale, I’m having an impact on the environment. But are humans essentially causing climate change?”

“I think that humans do have an impact on the environment,” Gardner repeated.

Take a listen, and make sure to stick around until the end when Hill replies cheekily, “Well, maybe I’ll see you at a town hall, then.”

 

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Hick or Gardner? And What’s the Spread?

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

We’ve been asking this question since July, and the results have generally been about the same: Colorado Pols readers seem to think Democrat John Hickenlooper will have little trouble beating Republican Cory Gardner in November.

Ballots will depart for mailboxes on Friday, so we ask again: Who is going to win Colorado’s marquee race, and by how much?

This is obviously not a scientific survey, but Colorado Pols readers have traditionally been pretty accurate in predicting the outcomes of big races in Colorado. As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on one of the following options, what would you select?

Click after the jump to cast your vote…

 

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