We did a spit-take a few moments ago after watching the above clip from an interview by FOX 31’s Joe St. George of Sen. Cory Gardner today, asking about Gardner’s field of Democratic opponents and the growing unease among Republicans about Gardner’s re-election prospects. Here’s a transcript:
ST. GEORGE: Nine Democrats want to run against you. Are you paying attention to any of them right now or you worried about any of them?
GARDNER: Well I think you’re undercounting! I think there’s more than that. Uh, look we’re going to continue to do what’s right for the people of Colorado, what’s right for this country. And I look forward to taking the things that we have accomplished for the people of Colorado back home and sharing that message. Look, at we’ve cut taxes allowing more and more people to keep their hard-earned money in their own pockets. We’ve helped create reforms that that the VA that’s allowed veterans to receive better care. We’ve brought dollars back to Western Colorado at where they rightfully belong. We’re working hard to move Space Command and BLM headquarters to Colorado. This is about the four corners of our state. This is about opportunity. This is about making sure that the Eastern Plains in the Western Slope and the Front Range benefit. I don’t think socialism gets us there. In fact, I know socialism does not get us there.
ST. GEORGE: A lot of people I’ve talked to are already writing you off. They say no way Cory Gardner can win Colorado in 2020. Why are they wrong?
GARDNER: Well, you could ask Senator Udall that question. [Pols emphasis]
As a pitch for re-election to a U.S. Senate seat, this is fairly stunning for its ineptitude. Gardner’s list of accomplishments pretty much begins and ends with the Trump tax cut bill of 2017, which Americans strongly disapprove of in every opinion poll after failing to realize the promised benefits in their paychecks and tax returns. President Donald Trump did sign legislation reforming VA health care delivery–but critics have denounced the plan as back-door privatization. Either way, after nearly a full six-year term in the United States Senate, these are absolutely piffling “accomplishments,” closer to what the ineffectual safe-seat Rep. Doug Lamborn lists in his franked mailers than a top-tier Senate re-election campaign.
But all of that takes a back seat to Gardner’s testy response to St. George’s question about those who have already written Gardner off as a political dead man walking. It’s a rare moment for the always-scripted Sen. Gardner to slip like this and invoke a backward-looking message–similar to Donald Trump talking about Hillary Clinton three years later. Gardner will not win by re-fighting the last election.
And here’s why: Gardner won his Senate seat in 2014 by a narrow margin of fewer than two percent, after a campaign in which Gardner relied on rank deception about his record as well as a national Republican wave to win against the prevailing local electoral trends. To suggest that Gardner’s narrow win over Mark Udall in 2014 is any indicator of what he faces today in a state that has grown only more hostile to the Republican brand is nothing short of delusional. The improbable circumstances that allowed Gardner to eke out a win in 2014 no longer exist. The polite society he fooled will not be fooled again.
And despite his (fading) reputation as a political mastermind, Gardner is even weaker than he looks on paper.