Yesterday’s massive GOP rally at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, headlined by President Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, and front-and-center Sen. Cory Gardner, took one of the biggest variables in the 2020 elections in Colorado off the table. Gardner, down by double digits in the polls in a state strongly trending away from the GOP brand in recent elections, has had every opportunity put distance between himself and Trump before November.
As of yesterday evening, we can predict confidently that’s not going to happen. Denver7’s Blair Miller:
President Donald Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner propped up one another as well as the Republican policies implemented by both as they campaigned for re-election Thursday at a lengthy rally in Colorado Springs.
Trump, whose approval ratings are far underwater in Colorado, called Gardner “a champion” and said Gardner had his “complete and total support and endorsement,” adding that Gardner “will never let you down.” Both have endorsed one another for re-election.
“Vote for Cory, vote for Trump, vote for the Republican Party,” Trump said. “We’re getting it done.” [Pols emphasis]
Last night’s mutual lovefest between Trump and Gardner puts to rest forever the false claim Gardner made to inquiring reporters during the impeachment trial–at least the ones who were able to corner him long enough to ask. Even as Gardner’s Senate colleagues from Mitch McConnell on down the line publicly scoffed at the idea that Senators were expected to be impartial, despite their oath requiring exactly that, Cory Gardner insisted that he was indeed impartially weighing the evidence:
“I am focused entirely on fulfilling my Constitutional duty as an impartial juror and my responsibility to listen to both sides present their case,” [Gardner] said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]
But as the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, anybody who ever believed that was the butt of the joke last night in Colorado Springs.
“You are going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line because he’s been with us 100%,” Trump told a boisterous crowd of supporters in Colorado Springs, referring to Gardner’s re-election in November. “There was no waver. He’s been with us. There was no waver with Cory and we appreciate that.”
Gardner, who voted this month to acquit Trump and prevent witnesses in the Senate’s trial, has his “total support and endorsement,” the president said.
“We went through hoaxes, we went through the impeachment scam. And by the way, Cory was with us all the way,” Trump said. “He didn’t move, he didn’t budge. He said it’s a lot of bull. He said it’s a lot of bull.” [Pols emphasis]
That Gardner was dishonest with the press and the voters of Colorado when he claimed to be “impartial” is of course not a surprise. Gardner was one of the first to endorse Trump’s re-election. Before and since the impeachment trial, Gardner has headlined Trump fundraising events, and the two campaigns have established a joint fundraising committee. If anything it was a surprise to see Gardner insisting on this obviously false pretense even after his colleagues had discounted the whole idea of impartiality.
As everyone looking at this race seems to understand by now, Gardner is politically obliged to stick with Trump to the bitter end–lest he lose the only base from which he can build a majority coalition. Every chance Gardner had to show backbone–even Gardner’s own call for Trump to withdraw from the race in 2016, condemning Trump’s ‘brags about sexual assault’–has ended with quiet capitulation. And by pretending his fealty to Trump wasn’t what it looked like for so long, well past the point of believability, Gardner has only further squandered his reputation outside the Republican faithful.
This was a fateful moment for Cory Gardner. His metaphorical ships have now been burned.