As the standoff over a pending vote in the U.S. Senate to disapprove of President Donald Trump’s dubious declaration of a national emergency to appropriate by fiat the billions he needs to fund construction of a wall on the southern U.S. border drags on, our friends at WaPo’s The Fix take stock of the seven U.S. Senators still calling themselves “undecided”–and topping the list of the most vulnerable fence-sitters is, no surprise here, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado:
According to Rand Paul (Ky.) — one of four GOP senators on record supporting the Democrats’ resolution to overturn President Trump’s national emergency declaration — as many as 10 Republicans could buck the White House and vote with Democrats next week.
The president is reportedly upping the pressure on Republicans. On Wednesday afternoon, he tweeted: “Senate Republicans are not voting on constitutionality or precedent, they are voting on desperately needed Border Security & the Wall. Our Country is being invaded with Drugs, Human Traffickers, & Criminals of all shapes and sizes. That’s what this vote is all about. STAY UNITED!”
…Of all the possible Republican defectors, Gardner has the most to lose. [Pols emphasis] He is up for reelection in 2020 in a purple state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 by 5 points. Taking the president’s side on this could jeopardize his already tenuous reelection prospects, but voting against the president will invite the wrath of Trump’s core supporters who make up a large share of the loyal GOP voting constituencies.
As we’ve analyzed in this space in detail, this political quandary helps explain why Gardner waffled on his prior seemingly clear opposition to Trump declaring a national emergency for the border wall as soon as Trump went through with the order. We’re not sure whether Gardner simply thought Trump wouldn’t pull the proverbial trigger, or was prepared to move himself into the “unsure” camp as the lesser of two political evils once Trump did despite his prior statements. Since Trump’s declaration, Gardner has stalled for time while waiting for other Senators to make his position a moot point.
But it’s not working out that way. Instead, Gardner’s indecision is standing out more by the day–and the fact that Gardner has already waffled, which The Fix missed but local journalists have been diligently reporting, only makes it worse.
We’ve said it before: Cory Gardner isn’t as politically skilled as his carefully-crafted reputation suggests. Sometimes, more often than gets reported in fact, he’s really as weak and disorganized as he looks–and this is one of those times.