Cory Gardner Says Republicans Have a Health Care Plan!

[SPOILER ALERT: There is no Republican health care plan]

President Trump’s somewhat-anticipated interview with “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl finally aired on Sunday night. This was the interview that Trump cut short last week when he got sad that Stahl was not going to just let him sit there and pretend that a secret laptop that formerly belonged to Hunter Biden was a real thing (last week, even longtime Republican strategist/pollster Frank Luntz proclaimed, “Nobody cares about Hunter Biden … why is [Trump] spending all his time on him?”).

But there was still a surprise ending to the “60 Minutes” interview that hadn’t already leaked out beforehand.

After Trump walked out of the interview, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany emerged with a big ‘ol book-like object that she hand-delivered to Stahl:

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

The oversized book that drastically under-delivers on its promised contents is, actually, a pretty apt metaphor for the entire Trump presidency…

…But like so much with Trump, the show and the pageantry belie the emptiness of the actual vessel. A big book filled with executive orders is not a comprehensive health care plan. Because there is no plan.

Undaunted by stupid things like facts and truth, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) picked up the baton from McEnany in an interview Monday morning on “The FOX News Rundown.” Behold this amazing baloney:

HOST: The Democrats are arguing [that] Republicans haven’t put forth a health care plan, as they’re trying to take down, effectively, Obamacare. If President Trump secures a second term, if the Affordable Care Act is struck down, whole or in part, we’ve heard discussions about a potential Republican health care plan before, but we haven’t heard a whole lot in terms of what that would look like. What can you tell us about the planning going on for that phase?

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

GARDNER: Well, there’s two things that Republicans and Democrats both agree on. Number one, we’re always going to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Number two, both Republicans and Democrats want to replace the Affordable Care Act with something that works. The Democrat plan is Medicare for All, a public option that turns into Medicare for All. Basically eliminating the private insurance that 136-plus million Americans enjoy today that they receive through their employer. 

Republicans are focused on a patient-centered health care program that is based on decisions between patients and their doctor…the consumer and their doctor…the constituent and their doctor…not Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. And it is about risk pools and reinsurance. It is about liability reforms that delay…you know, it is said right now that unnecessary procedures account for nearly 25% of health care costs because they are driven by liability concerns. That’s part of the plan that we have to address. Things like association health plans, across state lines, telehealth. I helped the Governor of Colorado get a waiver for reinsurance through the Health and Human Services department to drive down the costs in Colorado. 

You know, our plan is there. They don’t agree with our plan because it doesn’t involve a government takeover. [Pols emphasis]

What’s in the box book?

Say what, now?

This is the point in the story where we would provide a link so that you could read for yourself the Republican health care plan that Democrats disagree on because it doesn’t involve a government takeover. But, we can’t, because THERE IS NO REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE PLAN. You can Google “Republican health care plan,” and you’ll get a lot of results about Republicans and health care — but, alas, no actual “health care plan.”

In August, Gardner introduced a 117-word bill for protecting pre-existing medical conditions that fact checkers agree would not actually protect people with pre-existing medical conditions. Much like Gardner’s political career, this bill is going nowhere in the U.S. Senate, but at least it is an actual thing that does exist.

We have absolutely no idea what Gardner is talking about when he says “our plan is there.” We’d guess Gardner doesn’t know, either. Perhaps he watched Sunday’s episode of “60 Minutes” and got excited when he saw the giant book delivered to Lesley Stahl.

Cory Gardner has seemingly come full-circle six years after winding down his first U.S. Senate campaign. Back in October 2014, Gardner was insisting that there was no such thing as a federal “personhood” bill, which wasn’t true. With just one week left until Election Day in 2020, Gardner is pounding the table in support of a Republican health care bill that isn’t real.

In with one lie, and out with another.

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Centrist Redemption: Megan Schrader Disowns Cory Gardner

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

On October 9th, the Denver Post’s editorial board issued an endorsement of John Hickenlooper in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race that acknowledged in part the errors made by the board six years before with their deeply controversial endorsement of Cory Gardner’s election to the U.S. Senate. Yesterday, the editor of the Post’s opinion section Megan Schrader added her personal view of Gardner’s betrayal of the Post’s confidence in a blistering must-read column under her own name–we can’t cut and paste the whole thing, of course, and you’ll need to read it all yourself, but here are some of the stronger excerpts:

Also in 2017, Gardner voted twice to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without any type of a replacement on the table, in the works or even lingering in the air. No matter how many times Gardner said “repeal and replace” on the campaign trail in 2015 — I covered the election, it was often — he can’t escape the fact that in six years he has never articulated a viable replacement…

There are many reasons Colorado Republicans support Gardner — he’s pro-life and will be a reliable “yes” vote on any restriction on abortion brought before Congress; he supported Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that drastically reduced taxes across the board; and he has helped put conservative judges into lifetime appointments.

But there isn’t a single good reason a moderate or independent Colorado voter should support a senator who has proven to be a great pretender at representing their interests but has betrayed them time and time again. [Pols emphasis]

The sense of personal betrayal is quite evident in this column, recounting how Gardner’s pretending “to care about protecting Coloradan’s access to health insurance” was undermined by Gardner’s record of voting for legislation that would have forced massive cuts to Medicaid, and repealed the Affordable Care Act entirely with no replacement in place. Gardner’s abandonment of stated principles and promises on climate, health care, and checking Donald Trump’s power in appropriating funds to build his border wall, argues Schrader, leaves “moderate” Coloradans unpersuaded by social wedge issues with nothing to support.

In 2014, Gardner narrowly prevailed in part by convincing self-described moderates, then as always a fashionable identity for Colorado’s political chattering class, that he was their candidate despite their lying eyes. In 2020, equivocating would-be “centrist” voters have been shoved off the fence by Trump’s depredations–and to whatever extent “the center” exists in our politics this year, John Hickenlooper occupies it.

And as moderates, Democrats, and every Republican who is contractually allowed to admit the truth before the election knows, Gardner’s own choices dug his hole.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (October 23)

Happy Chulalongkorn Day. Please celebrate responsibly. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

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

 

The final Presidential debate of 2020 took place in Nashville, TN on Thursday night. A somewhat-restrained President Trump made the debate almost…normal. As The Washington Post reports:

With the two candidates electronically muted for portions of the night, the constant interruptions from the first debate were replaced by a clearer contrast between their competing views for the country and more sharply defined exchanges of attacks and retorts.

When Trump tried to accuse Biden of making money from China, the former vice president pointed out that the president has a bank account in the country and has failed to disclose his income tax returns despite promises to do so.

When Trump argued that stock markets would crash if Biden were elected, Biden responded with his signature line contrasting the gains of Wall Street vs. the cratering Main Street economy.

And when Trump sought to paint Biden as a puppet of socialist forces, his opponent pushed back with a forcefulness that has been absent from much of his campaign. “He’s a very confused guy. He thinks he’s running against somebody else,” Biden said. “He’s running against Joe Biden. I beat all those other people because I disagreed with them.”

Trump attacked Biden on multiple occasions, but his rhetoric was a bit too obscure for the average voter to understand. As Elahe Izadi and Jeremy Barr write for The Washington Post, you’d have to be a regular viewer of Fox News to have understood most of Trump’s shorthand:

During the final presidential debate, President Trump made reference to “the laptop from hell,” “AOC plus three″ and “Russia, Russia, Russia” — yes, said three times in a row.

The material was very familiar to — and maybe only familiar to — regular viewers of Fox News opinion hosts such as Sean Hannity.

“I feel like he almost was speaking the language of Fox prime time,” Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” said on NBC after the debate. “If you watch a lot of Fox prime time, you understand what he’s saying. If you don’t, you have no idea.”

 

As NBC News reports, coronavirus cases in the United States are continuing to skyrocket:

The U.S. set a record Thursday as the number of new coronavirus cases rose to over 77,000, topping the previous record in July.

Nationwide, 77,640 new cases were reported for the day, up from the previous record of 75,723 on July 29, according to the latest tally compiled by NBC News.

The record-breaking daily tally comes as the total number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached nearly 8.5 million, with 224,280 deaths. There were 921 coronavirus-related deaths reported on Thursday.

Here in Colorado, COVID-19 cases are also increasing. The situation is enough of a concern in Aurora that officials have decided to move students in grades 1-8 to an online-only instruction model. Elsewhere, a new app will be available this weekend that is intended to allow Coloradans to gauge potential exposure to COVID-19 in their communities.

 

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that appears designed to allow him to fire more people who aren’t deemed sufficiently loyal to Dear Leader. As CNN reports:

Trump signed an executive order that appears to provide him and his agency appointees more leeway in the hiring and firing of federal employees deemed disloyal, a move that critics say politicizes civil service and could lead to career officials being pushed out for political reasons.

The President has vilified some career officials as the “deep state” during his term and sought to rid the federal government of people he views as anti-Trump. Critics warn that the order would allow the President to fill the federal workforce with his cronies and reverts the country back to a spoils systems.

The executive order, issued Wednesday, creates a new classification of federal employees titled “Schedule F” for employees serving in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions” that typically do not change during a presidential transition.

The White House says the directive will give federal agencies more flexibility to hire “Schedule F” employees but also be able to remove “poor performers” from these roles without going through a lengthy appeals process.

 

 Governor Jared Polis will visit the sites of several massive wildfires in Colorado today. The two largest wildfires in state history are now in Larimer County. Large portions of Estes Park were evacuated on Thursday.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 22)

Today is National Nut Day; don’t tell Rudy Giuliani. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

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

 

► As The Washington Post reports, a half-filled Senate Judiciary Committee is moving ahead with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court:

Judge Amy Coney Barrett moved one step closer to a seat on the Supreme Court as the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced her nomination with solely Republican support Thursday. Democrats boycotted the vote in protest of what they viewed as an illegitimate confirmation process.

The vote was 12 to 0, with no Democrats present to officially register their objections. Democratic senators boycotted the proceedings to protest Republicans’ fast-tracking the nomination of the 48-year-old conservative jurist within days of the Nov. 3 election. They argue that the president elected next month should fill the court vacancy.

“That was their choice,” committee chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. “It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee. We’re not going to allow them to take over the committee.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the full Senate will vote Monday on the Barrett nomination. Republicans, who hold a 53-to-47 majority, have the votes to install her on the court.

While McConnell apparently has the votes to seat Barrett on the Supreme Court, he hasn’t bothered with trying to corral enough Republican support for another coronavirus stimulus package. The lack of movement on a pre-election stimulus package has floored many Republican political observers and left GOP Senators like Cory Gardner with no good answers.

 

Former President Barack Obama campaigned for Democrat Joe Biden in Philadelphia on Wednesday, offering up a very simple reason why voters should oust President Trump from office. From Chris Cillizza at CNN:

Amid the rhetoric, one specific set of lines jumped out at me as channeling what so many people — including Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016 — feel right now.

Here it is (bolding is mine):

“And with Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day. And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”

That, for me, is the best and most succinct argument that former Vice President Joe Biden can make in the closing 12 days of this race. Deciding to fire Trump and hire Biden isn’t about any specific policy or even any specific mistake that the incumbent has made. It’s about a country absolutely exhausted by Trump — his norm-busting, his misinformation, his junior high school bullying, and his tweeting, his tweeting, his tweeting…

 

► Early voting is going very well:

Via The Washington Post (10/22/20)

 

Here in Colorado, one-third of likely voters have already cast a ballot.

 

 The final Presidential debate is tonight on NBC News. President Trump reportedly plans to focus on topics that nobody cares about.

 

► President Trump is still lashing out at “60 Minutes” over an interview recorded this week that Trump felt was not sufficiently sycophantic for his tastes. As he threatened earlier, Trump has released footage of an interview with Lesley Stahl that he apparently thinks makes him look good?

Trump is also asked a question about when his administration is finally going to announce his new health care plan. Trump has been saying for years that the new plan will be announced in “a few weeks.” Guess what he says in this interview?

Oh, and Trump flat-out says that he hopes the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act.

 

Rocky Mountain National Park is now closed because of the East Troublesome Fire.

 

This is about as cut-and-dried of a case of “voter intimidation” as you’re likely to find — and it’s happening in Ft. Morgan, Colorado.

 

Governor Jared Polis has ordered a statewide moratorium on evictions as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Colorado.

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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Cory, Corky, Whatever–They’re Both Losing

Courtesy New Hampshire Democrats, here’s Vice President Mike Pence on an airport whistlestop in the Granite State cheering on Republican Senate candidate Corky Messner–except he dropped one crucial letter to come up with another GOP Senate contender’s first name:

Polling in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race has incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leading Corky Messner by double-digit numbers, similar to the lead presently enjoyed by Colorado Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper over Republican Sen. Cory Gardner–so in this respect we suppose it’s also easy to get Corky Messner and Cory Gardner confused. Then again, Pence was saying something in the second clip about a “renewed Republican Senate majority,” which tells us Pence is paying about as much attention to how these Senate are unfolding as the Trump administration paid a certain nasty virus last winter.

For Corky and Cory, Pence is just adding a smidge of insult to the injury.

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Complaint to Senate Ethics Committee Alleges Gardner’s Tele-Townhall Violated Rules

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A formal complaint filed last week with the U. S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics asks for an investigation into Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s use of unsolicited robocalls to promote a tele-townhall COVID-19 update within 60 days of the election.

Election season limitations on Members of Congress conducting constituent communication are longstanding and well-understood restrictions. However, in March of this year, the Senate Rules Committee waived at least one of the rules Gardner is alleged to have violated in order to permit senators to update people on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exception permits “providing updated information about the pandemic, and providing information about the federal government’s response.” It is intended to allow the transmission of critical pandemic response information, not for senators to tout their accomplishments to voters.

The complaint filed against Gardner, a Republican, argues that between the pre-selected robocalls to voters and Gardner’s talk of politics and non-COVID issues such as listing his bipartisan work with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), the tele-townhall violated Internet Services and Technology Resources Usage Rules 6.2 and 6.3.

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As McConnell Spikes Stimulus, Where The Hell Is Cory Gardner?

Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner.

As the New York Times reports, the White House and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are inching closer to a deal on a comprehensive economic stimulus bill that includes the direct payments and aid to struggling state and local governments Democrats have been holding out for, and might even if everybody moves quickly get those checks in the mail before November 3. But there’s a problem:

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, told Republican senators privately on Tuesday that he has advised the White House not to strike a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a new stimulus bill before Election Day, cautioning against reaching an agreement that most in the party cannot accept.

Mr. McConnell’s counsel, confirmed by three Republicans familiar with his remarks, threw cold water on President Trump’s increasingly urgent push to enact a fresh round of pandemic aid before he faces voters on Nov. 3. It came just before Ms. Pelosi’s spokesman gave an upbeat assessment of talks on Tuesday between her and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, saying they had found “common ground as they move closer to an agreement.”

Ms. Pelosi had said earlier on Tuesday that she was “optimistic” a deal could be reached with the Trump administration in the coming days. But Mr. McConnell’s remarks underscored the divisions among Republicans that have long hampered a compromise, and which have broken out into an extraordinarily open intraparty feud just two weeks before the election.

Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Politico reports that despite the passage of a self-imposed deadline to finalize a deal, the House and White House are still talking and still hopeful for a breakthrough. One major obstacle stands in their way:

Pelosi and Mnuchin plan to speak again Wednesday after a productive, 45-minute call on Tuesday afternoon. Though a deal was not reached by her self-imposed Tuesday night deadline, enough progress was made that both sides felt like talks should continue, with Washington still waiting to see whether months of negotiations between the two will culminate in a multitrillion-dollar stimulus plan just two weeks before the presidential election…

But the California Democrat’s biggest obstacle may be across the Capitol — with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) privately urging the White House not to settle with Pelosi before the election. [Pols emphasis]

Although the ball of “responsibility” has bounced back and forth repeatedly in the course of negotiations over a second stimulus bill, the current state of play of the White House and Democrats working productively white Senate Republican leaders try to shut down a deal places vulnerable Republican Senators in a terrible spot less than two weeks from the election. Chief among them would have to be Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner, down by double digits in every recent poll, who has campaigned heavily on his support for stimulus legislation and even disingenuously hammered his opponent for not supporting a stillborn Republican counterproposal with no direct payments and woefully insufficient aid to states.

But is Cory Gardner calling out Mitch McConnell for working against a deal everybody else is trying desperately to close? Nope.

Now, it’s possible that Cory Gardner lives in a fantasy world where either Mitch McConnell is a Democrat or the opposite of what every news story is reporting is actually what’s happening. But we think Gardner is referring to the scheduled revote in the Senate on the same inadequate $500 billion package rejected over a month ago–even though the White House and the Democratic-controlled House are distantly beyond that figure in their own negotiations. Either way, every American following the stimulus negotiations knows that Democrats are not blocking the next round of stimulus–all the resistance at this point is coming from the Senate GOP majority.

Gardner hiding behind McConnell’s pretenses instead of joining the team trying to keep Gardner’s promises is politically inexplicable, undoing any goodwill “Santa Cory” might have earned from backing the CARES Act back in March with no time left to recover. Gardner knows the bill he’s relying on to punt the blame contains no stimulus direct payments, which is the most important component of the bill for individual voters, and nothing to help cash-strapped state governments like Colorado avoid devastating budget cuts.

At long last, we honestly don’t know who Gardner thinks he’s fooling.

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Ballot Return Update (Through 10/19)

Per the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, 924,735 ballots have been returned in Colorado as of Monday, October 19. As you can see from the chart below, registered Democrats continue to outpace both Unaffiliated and Republican voters.

For comparison, a total of 2,855,960 ballots were cast in 2016. In the 2018 mid-term election, 2,566,784 total ballots were cast in Colorado.

Via Colorado Secretary of State

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 20)

Today is 10/20/20! Is that a thing? 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

 

► Be careful out there, Colorado! New cases of COVID-19 have hit a record high in our state, as The Denver Post reports:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 6,722 cases of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday, more than triple the most recent low of 2,016 in the last week of August. Three times last week, the state recorded more than 1,000 new infections in a single day.

Last week’s total was the highest since the state has had reliable data, though it’s likely there were more cases in the virus’s initial surge in March and April that weren’t found due to lack of testing at the time.

“These numbers are definitely a concern for us. We need everyone to follow public health guidance to control disease transmission and ensure that health care and public health capacity isn’t strained,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said in a statement. “We also want Coloradans who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to get tested.”

 

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) doesn’t have a Donald Trump problem; he has a Cory Gardner problem.


 

Today is the self-imposed deadline for Congress to reach a deal on another coronavirus aid package. As CNN reports, it’s probably not happening:

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Tuesday that the “window is closing” on a potential deal for a stimulus package, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s deadline arrives for Democrats and the Trump administration to resolve policy differences if they want to pass a bill before Election Day.

“I think there’s still an outside chance something will get done before the elections. But the window is closing,” the South Carolina Democrat told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Pelosi said Sunday that she and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin must reached an agreement by end of the day Tuesday, the last feasible date to get a bill passed through both chambers of Congress by November 3. The two sides have been divided for months on the topline figure as well as what should be in the bill…

…Clyburn, who is the No. 3 ranking Democrat in the chamber, accused Republicans of not being willing to compromise with Democrats and argued that Pelosi “is trying to stand up for people who are being left out of this deal.”

As we’ve written repeatedly in this space, the real hangup in all of these stimulus talks has been SENATE REPUBLICANS.

 

According to Republican polling outfit Magellan Strategies, which regularly tracks ballot returns in Colorado, roughly one-third of Colorado voters have already returned a ballot. Turnout in Colorado is heavily tilted toward Democratic voters at the moment, with some 35% of registered Democrats having returned their ballots as of this morning. Total ballot returns are at 921,342 (for comparison, more than 2.85 million votes were cast in Colorado in 2016).

The Denver Post has more on Colorado’s massive voter turnout numbers.

 

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden addressed Colorado’s wildfires on Monday as part of a warning about Climate Change. As Colorado Public Radio reports, Colorado’w wildfire season in 2020 is unusual…and ominous:

All told, they add up to a fire season that is longer than most on record for the state, the result of extended drought conditions, high temperatures and a monsoon that just never arrived.

“We haven’t gotten any rain. We haven’t got any snow,” said Jennifer Balch, director of the Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder and a fire researcher. “Coupled with hotter temperatures, you’ve essentially got a hairdryer blowing at Colorado right now that’s making our fuels incredibly dry for very long periods of time.”

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates, precipitation in the state over the past 30 days has been less than 10 percent of normal. Colorado did not receive the usual monsoon rains or snowfall that’s common in the fall.

That kind of weather typically prevents large, destructive wildfires from starting, Balch said and dampens those still burning from the summer like the record-breaking Cameron Peak fire. She said just a dozen wildfires over 1,000 acres have begun in October in the past 35 years.

 

Can you speak something OUT of existence? President Trump is sure trying. According to CNN, which is keeping track, Trump has claimed at least 38 times that COVID-19 will just “disappear.”

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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Again, Please, Enough With The Cory Gardner Martyrdom

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-ekt).

A column from Colorado Sun reporter Jesse Paul appeared in the much larger forum of the Washington Post yesterday, offering another torrid take on the impending fall of GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado along a theme we’ve been hearing quite a bit the last few days: that Gardner, an “excellent candidate” in his own right, is being set up to lose by President Donald Trump and not Gardner’s own choices:

In 2014, Republican Cory Gardner, a congressman from rural Colorado, parlayed his charm and ability to connect with voters into a Senate seat by defeating Mark Udall, an incumbent Democrat from a Western political dynasty. Liberals feared Gardner’s political talent, and conservatives hoped it would take him far.

Then Donald Trump was elected president. Now, given Trump’s extreme unpopularity in a state whose electorate is generally moving to the left, Colorado Democrats are confident that, come Election Day, they will pick up Gardner’s seat and fill it with the state’s popular former governor, John Hickenlooper…

Making things worse for Gardner is the fact Trump trails Biden by an average of 13 percentage points in Colorado. “Jesus Christ himself couldn’t overperform Trump by double digits,” said Tyler Sandberg, a Republican operative. [Pols emphasis]

It’s a narrative that Republicans seem determined to shape now, with hope of actually saving Gardner’s seat realistically gone for his local supporters and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)–the proof being in the money flowing to battleground states as Democrats work to run up the score in a growing wave. If Gardner can’t be saved, then perhaps he can be martyred in defeat with a cover story that blames Trump, and in so doing preserves Republican hopes in Colorado that a comeback may be possible in future years against the state’s leftward political trajectory.

We give Jesse Paul credit in this column for laying out some of the most damning moments in Gardner’s embrace of Trump, from Gardner’s initial denunciation of Trump in October of 2016 saying “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” to Gardner’s metamorphosis after Trump’s victory into one of the President’s most steadfast supporters. The problem with this analysis is blithely dismissing Gardner’s transformation as inevitable. The truth is, Gardner’s decisions to stand closely with Trump through innumerable scandals, impeachment, and the disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic were voluntary choices–not coerced by base GOP support for Trump or any other factor.

To suggest that Gardner had “no choice” but to fall in line behind Trump after Trump won the 2016 elections is a major misreading of Colorado’s political trends since Gardner narrowly won his seat in 2014. In reality, Gardner needed to move to the center from the very beginning of his Senate term in order to have any chance of re-election in 2020, but Gardner’s agenda of hard-right low-information crusades against the Affordable Care Act and social wedge issues like abortion made that impossible. Trump didn’t force Gardner to the right, Trump simply made Gardner’s pre-existing agenda toxic by giving it the chance of actually becoming law–a threat voters in Colorado responded to in 2018 by throwing out Republicans at every level of elected office.

The point here is that Gardner is not some kind of political prodigy brought to earth by factors beyond his control. One of the biggest reasons Gardner’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2014 has inspired such lasting division and enmity within the state’s political class is that Gardner’s politics are so at odds with a majority of Colorado voters that his narrow victory is broadly regarded as a swindle–deception committed by Gardner and many local influencers that allowed Gardner to win a race he should not have won. Since that time, Gardner has had many opportunities to chart a different course for himself, in the mold of respected Western GOP Senators like John McCain or even Mitt Romney–and he never even tried.

For Cory Gardner, a collection of contradictions from the beginning, this is comeuppance a decade in the making. The reason is simple: for all the credit Gardner gets for being a “great candidate,” he’s really not. At least not for Colorado. Gardner’s agenda became more out of step with the state he represents with each election since 2014, and Gardner’s energetic wunderkind persona was effectively turned against him in 2020 by a laconic, more authentic John Hickenlooper.

For Colorado Republicans, any road back starts with understanding what Cory Gardner did wrong, not revising history to salvage Cory Gardner’s reputation. Trump tops the ticket, but Gardner made choices entirely on his own that brought him to ruin.

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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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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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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…

 

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