Four years ago today, as the controversy raged one day after a recording of then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump surfaced with Trump making a series of comments that crudely boasted of his supposed ability as a celebrity to commit sexual assault with impunity, Sen. Cory Gardner issued a statement that seems unthinkable today: calling for Trump to withdraw from the presidential race in favor of vice presidential candidate Mike Pence.
If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so – step aside. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/hadKP4gIrr
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) October 8, 2016
Gardner’s statement was unequivocal: “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.” Here it is in its entirety:
Millions of Americans are set to choose between two people to lead this nation,. One candidate is a danger to our constitution, freedoms and security, and would sell our national security to the highest bidder and finalize the destruction of the rule of law. The other – a candidate whose flaws are beyond mere moral shortcomings and who shows a disgust for American character and a disdain for dignity unbecoming of the Presidency. I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women.
I am committed to defeating Hillary Clinton. The only way this is now possible is with a new nominee that reflects the values of our country and our party. I will not vote for Donald Trump. If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so – step aside, and allow Mike Pence to be the Republican Party’s nominee. If he fails to do so, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton but will instead write-in my vote for Mike Pence.
Four years later, Gardner’s assertion that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would “would sell our national security to the highest bidder” and “finalize the destruction of the rule of law” apply so perfectly to the President’s own conduct in office that the words are downright chilling. But in the time that Trump has lived out the predictions Gardner made about Hillary Clinton, Gardner has “evolved” from calling on Trump to withdraw from the race to a national symbol of loyalty to Trump even at the expense of one’s own political future.
Gardner has never once been made to explain how he progressed from being unable to support a candidate “who brags about degrading and assaulting women” to one of Trump’s most steadfast allies and early endorsers. It’s a question we hope gets posed to Gardner in an upcoming debate, because there really is no good answer: if Gardner believed what he said in 2016, nothing has happened subsequently that should have changed his unequivocal position that Trump is unfit to serve as President.
Is it an old question? Yes. But the only answer Colorado voters have ever been given is a shrug. “Of course Gardner supports the President,” the jaded pundits say. “He has to.”
Maybe. But that doesn’t make it right. Or politically survivable.
The reckoning fate decreed on October 8, 2016 has arrived.