Gardner Wants It Both Ways on “Birther” Remarks

The Denver Post’s Michael Riley caught up with CD-4 candidate Cory Gardner yesterday, and asked him about his odd statement from a campaign stop this week that seemed to imply doubts about the citizenship of President Barack Obama. A popular (according to some polls, crazily popular) discussion item among the “Tea Party” set, the claim has been debunked so many times–including by the U.S. Supreme Court–that it is usually associated with, if you’ll excuse our coarseness, unserious whackjobs: not credible candidates for federal office.

That is to say Riley sort of asked Gardner about his comments, proceeding to transcribe Gardner’s backpedaling with absolutely no fact-checking whatsoever.

State Rep. Cory Gardner indicated Thursday that he does think President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen, despite his ambiguous comments at a public meeting this week.

“If Barack Obama weren’t a U.S. citizen, I’m sure Bill and Hillary Clinton would have figured that out by now,” said Gardner, R-Yuma, referring to the president’s former Democratic opponent and her husband.

Asked by a questioner Wednesday whether he thought Obama is a natural-born citizen – a constitutional requirement for any U.S. president – the 4th Congressional District candidate said only that “the administration is trying to say he was born in this country,” according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Pressed to denounce the widely discredited claim that the president was not born on U.S. soil, Gardner responded that “we can’t disrespect people for having a different opinion,” the paper reported.

Gardner said Thursday that those comments were taken out of context in the sense that “I just wasn’t able to finish my thought” because of a contentious crowd…

Um, what? We’re amazed that Riley accepted this bogus explanation at face value. Did he just not bother to read Gardner’s campaign manager contradicting everything Gardner says above in the Fort Collins Coloradoan? Not the same Coloradoan article Riley cites, but it was published online before Riley wrote his story for the Post.

“Cory believes there’s probably, from the little bit that he has read on it, Obama is most likely a citizen,” campaign manager Mike Ciletti said. “But he finds it very curious that this could all be ended if he just released the long-form birth certificate and put it to bed.” [Pols emphasis]

The statement will likely do little to satisfy critics who were upset by Gardner’s statements on Obama’s citizenship at a Wednesday night town-hall meeting in Fort Collins…

Ciletti said Gardner’s doubts about Obama’s citizenship status [Pols emphasis] are due to his limited knowledge of the issue.

“Conspiracy theories, whether they’re from the left or the right, they all have facts in them, and then they go askew. And in all honesty, Cory has not spent a lot of time reading and studying and trying to get to the bottom of Obama and his citizenship,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

Ciletti said the citizenship debate is irrelevant but included a question about Obama’s status: “Whether or not he is a citizen, he is the president right now.”

So who are we to believe? The candidate who says he was taken “out of context,” or the candidate’s campaign manager who says…he wasn’t? This is the sort of duplicitous predicament that good reporters live for the chance to tear apart–but not Riley, apparently! We find it increasingly hard to believe that this is the same guy who delivered such stellar political coverage last year.

As for Cory Gardner? God help him if both his “birther” and “I’m not a birther” split personalities make it into, you know, the same newspaper.

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  1. twas brillig says:

    Which is actually a position of some credibility and renown in the percolating bowels of today’s Republican Party.  

  2. BobMoore says:

    I actually think the differing statements have more to do with the audiences of the papers. The Coloradoan is a paper that primarily reaches an audience in the district; the Post is a paper that reaches a broader audience. They’re crafting different messages for different audiences, I suspect. That’s also why Gardner gave the interview to the Post but kicked me over to Ciletti. Gardner gets to go the aw-shucks route with the post while Ciletti goes a bit edgier with me.

    As to the claim that the comments were out of context and Gardner couldn’t finish a thought because of interruptions, I’d invite everyone to listen to the audio recording that’s available at the linked Coloradoan story above.

    This is all part of a familiar political pattern: make inflammatory statement, repeat inflammatory statement in a different way, say media is taking inflammatory statement out of context.

    • twas brillig says:

      Ciletti screwed the pooch giving you those comments. Fort Collins went something like 65% to Obama — a GOP congressional candidate openly flirting with the birther nuts in the press does not build mainstream credibility in Larimer County.

      The differing “messages” is just a product of amateur hour campaigning from an inexperienced candidate and campaign manager who should have known when to fold and get ready for the next deal. Instead, he doubled-down on the crazy, and I think the only thing gained is slower momentum for Cory Gardner as the inevitable nominee. Diggs Brown just got a little breathing space.

  3. Steve Balboni says:

    Agree on all accounts Pols.

    http://steampoweredopinions.bl

    Got that? Gardner indicated that the president is a U.S. citizen. Gardner won’t actually say that he’s a U.S. citizen, only indicate it.

    What does that even mean? Why can’t Cory Gardner answer a very simple and straightforward question? I don’t understand why this is so difficult for him. If he believes the president is not a U.S. citizen he should just say so, instead he hedges his bets here. His hope is that he looks less like a right-wing loon to the press and general public without offending his base of right-wing loons.

    I’ve been told for sometime that Gardner doesn’t actually believe most of the right-wing claptrap that comes out of his mouth, that he’s merely playing to the rubes in the base of his party. I have no idea what Cory Gardner really believes but then again, apparently neither does Cory Gardner.

  4. BobMoore says:

    Check out Mike Littwin’s column in the Post:

    http://www.denverpost.com/news

  5. allyncooper says:

    The economy is in shambles, the state is broke, we’re running deficits in the trillions per year as far as the eye can see, we’re still fighting 2 wars, and apparently Michelle Obama’s shorts are too short….

    • MADCO says:

      So we should elect, or otherwise take seriously the campaign of, a guy who will pander to the nutjobs who would distract from the real issues?

      I can’t take him seriously.  Just like I can’t take Penry seriously when he says we should teach creationism in the science curriculum.  Just like I can’t take seriously pacifists, isolationists,  Federal Reserve conspiracy theorists, people who think the gov’t should intervene in a family’s living will or durable power of attorney for healthcare, those who claim HIV doesn’t cause AIDS or that unmarried pregnant women should have AIDS and so should their babies,or claim that the moon landing never occurred, or that the UFO spoke to him, and a million other wacky positions.

      If candidate X were to be believable and trustworthy ont he real issues, candidate x had best not be a whack job when it comes to the fringe.

        • HikingTheAppalachianTrail says:

          Someone should ask Cong. Markey if she believes that 9/11 was an inside job.  KBDI (partially funded by Congress) has been running “truther” documentaries during their latest pledge drive. (http://www.denverpost.com/ostrow/ci_13163170)

          Is that the kind of thing our tax dollars should continue to fund?

          Would she support PBS funding a “birther” documentary?

          The birthers are kooks, no doubt, but it’s the kooks on the left that get Congress to fund and broadcast their crazy conspiracies.

          • redstateblues says:

            How does that have anything to do with Congresswoman Markey? Maybe you should take up your complaint with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

          • twas brillig says:

            Apart from nutjobber and ex-Congressperson Cynthia McKinney, name another example of an elected Democratic congressperson perpetuating that nonsense.

            But on this birther crackpottery, you see Republican members pandering to them with stupid legislation, going on cable to legitimize the conspiracy theories, has beens like Tom DeLay trying to shop it around, and now a newly minted congressional candidate in CD-4 pandering to this crap as well.

          • MADCO says:

            I’m sure she’s been asked before, I’m sure she’s answered that America was attacked by terrorists on 9/11 and in other  attacks.  

            But sure- go ahead and ask.

  6. Go Blue says:

    This was a calculated move on Gardner’s part. He’s embracing the 65 percent of conspiracy theorist in his party with a wink and nod and playing dumb with the Denver Post.

    It’s to bad Riley didn’t pick up on Gardner’s hypocrisy.  

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