Cory Gardner: Republicans Should Not “Change Positions” To Win

Since his entry into the U.S. Senate race in late February, a defining characteristic of Rep. Cory Gardner's campaign strategy has been the swift and unapologetic abandonment of a number of stridently conservative policy positions. The most widely publicized example of this has been Gardner's flip-flop on the Personhood abortion bans, for which Gardner's former support was public and longstanding. Within a few weeks, Gardner had also flipped on such hot-button social issues as LGBT parent adoption, and whether undocumented immigrants should be deported to their countries of origin.

It's been a wild ride for Gardner in a short period of time, and the wisdom of simply jettisoning en masse all of Gardner's political stands which are now liabilities in a statewide election is a major point of debate today. Should Gardner prevail against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall this November, it would set a new precedent for the ability of a politician to reinvent their image to a truly sweeping degree and still win an election.

But if Gardner's "flip-flop early and hard" strategy doesn't work, there is a Republican who would be proven right.

That would be Cory Gardner.

This is a clip of Gardner speaking in August of 2013, less than a year ago, before the National Asian Indian Republican Association. In this clip, Gardner argues strongly that Republicans cannot "change what you believe in order to win." Transcript:

GARDNER: How many of you know Arthur Brooks at AEI, the American Enterprise Institute? I encourage you to look at some of the work that he's doing. Because he talks about what happened in 2012, he talks about how we as Republicans and conservatives can make sure that our message resonates with the American people. 

There are some out there, who are paid consultants and pollsters, who would say, "You know what, you need to change your positions. You need to change your philosophies. You need to change what you believe in order to win." We don't need to that. We shouldn't do it. We cannot do that. [Pols emphasis] But what we have to do is make sure we deliver that message in a way that appeals to the American people.

Well, sometime between last August and March of this year, Gardner evidently figured it out: the only way to deliver a "message" that "appeals to the American people" is to "change what you believe in!" In fact, if Gardner's current story is to be believed, at the time he gave this very speech in late summer 2013, he had already begun to backpedal on the Personhood abortion bans. Of course, that doesn't seem likely either, since Gardner is today still a co-sponsor of the federal Life at Conception Act–Personhood's federal doppelganger.

To be honest, maybe the answer here is that there is no good answer. Once you've planted your flag on the wrong side of an issue, maybe the only thing to do is to own that bad decision. And if it costs you your political career, so be it, because issues actually mean things to people. It may be that flip-flopping, and as a result being trusted by neither side, is worse than sticking with unpopular principles you were elected on. In the endless parlor game of today's politics, where anything can be and is routinely spun out of all recognition, such fundamentals get lost.

But Gardner can't escape the truth: especially when it came out of his own mouth.

40 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Davie says:

    Apparently, even Cory Gardner can't believe anything Cory Gardner says.  OTOH, what he may mean by "make sure we deliver that message in a way that appeals to the American people" is simply LIE!

  2. Moderatus says:

    Yes, and Obama should never have been able to evolve on gay marriage. Maybe Robert Byrd shouldn't have renounced the KKK? Do you realize the Democrats used to be the party of racism?

    You stupid arrogant hypocrites. Quit wasting your breath.

    • Davie says:

      Maybe Cory Gardner should think about what he truly believes instead of saying anything it takes to get elected. 

      You do realize the GOP used to be the party of Lincoln (until Reagan set it on its current death spiral)?

      • BlueCat says:

        It stopped being the party of Lincoln long before Reagan. That would be the desegregation/civil rights era. Now it's the party that loves nutbags waving confederate flags and carrying on about not recognizing the federal government. 

        • Davie says:

          There were some really respectable Republicans up through the  '60's and '70's — Senators Edward Brooks and Everett Dirkson, Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, and late in their careers even Bob Dole and Barry Goldwater.

          Today's party members are spawn of the unholy marriage between Richard Nixon (paranoid delusionals with malintent for all "enemies" real and imagined) and Ronald Reagan (the master of misappropriation of message eg. Born in the USA was a protest song, not anything remotely in support of the GOP agenda — to get citizens to vote against their best interests).

          We're going to have to suffer and fight these freaks of nature for a few more years.  But by the year 2020 that should just about take care of them.

          • BlueCat says:

            Yes there were but but there's no denying the big shift away from being the party of Lincoln preceded Reagan. And don't forget the great New York Republican Senator Jacob Javits.  

            The north eastern liberal and midwestern Main Street moderate Republicans didn't disappear over night and the conservatives were certainly not all, or even mainly, wackos in the 60s and 70s but the writing was on the wall. 


            Once they saw they could win elections in new places and nationally by appealing to formerly Democratic racist bigots it was hard to resist allowing the party to become more racist/bigot friendly and you know what they say. You lay down with dogs you get up with fleas. A few hops and skips later, here we are with the new GOTP, decidedly no longer a party that would give Lincoln the time of day. They'd call Teddy and Ike commies altogether.


            All the talking heads are saying that the victories of establishment candidates in the primaries today show that the establishment is taking the party back from the Tea Party. The fact is the wackos have pulled the party so far right there's not a dimes worth of difference between the "mainstream" Republican pols and the wackos on policy anyway. The establishment just wants party members to say things a little more politely and is less willing to go over cliffs.

            • Davie says:

              Agreed.  Your last paragraph is especially perceptive of the new reality for the GOP.

              Their attitudes will likely never change, just their ability to supress revealing it to unwary voters.

    • Progressicat says:

      Moddy, before the aneurism that this topic seems to be about to give you blows, you need to read the article again.  It’s not the damned, dirty Dems who are saying people can’t change; it’s Cory.

      That this comes after he changed profoundly his position on personhood; a change which itself was conveniently timed to before the ads started berating him for his stance, is the reason we mock him.  If he'd annouced his change in position last year some time, we'd have to eat it.  His timing just happens to allow us to savor it.

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      Mod they still are.

      Now they call it affirmative action.

      Good news is that the millennial generation is rejecting institutionaized affirmative racism.

    • Republican 36 says:

      Your comment misses the main issue. The question isn't whether President Obama or Sen. Robert Byrd evolved and rejected positions they previously held. Trying to justify Mr. Gardner's flips and flops back to the position he originally held, all the while trying to convince those who are pro-life that he is still with them, while simultaneously trying to convince those who are pro-choice that he is with them raises an entirely different issue: Trustworthiness. Mr. Gardner can't be trusted. He threw the Colorado Personhood Amendment under the bus on March 21, 2014 but has steadfastly refused to remove his name as a co-sponsor from the federal Personhood Amendment pending before the U.S. House of Representatives. This leaves him, self inflicted, in the position of telling Colorado voters, especially women voters, well I'm not in favor of outlawing all abortions in all circumstances, including incest and rape, and most forms of birth control through an amendment to Colorado's constitution or statutes; but I am in favor of imposing those restrictions on Colorado's women through federal legislation. Cory Gardner remains a staunch supporter of the Personhood Amendment but he wants voters, especially women voters to think otherwise.

      Bottom line: Whether you're a Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated; conservative, liberal or middle-of-the-road, you can't trust Cory Gardner.

    • notaskinnycook says:

      Gardner hasn't evolved, Moddy. If he had, he'd take his name off of the Federal legislation. He hasn't and he won't. Right now, he's just anybody's dog that'll hunt with him. If he actually managed to unseat Udall, he'd be right back to being-what was it- the tenth most conservative member of the House. And worse, he'd be one of a hundered instead of one of 435.

    • jbowen43 says:

      No! The democrayts were not the party of racism. YOU are misinformed. Some Southern sefregtionists were Democrats and some republicnas supported sgregation. The majority of Demcorats opposed sgregation and it was  Harry Truman who by executive order integrated the Army. The history of sgregation and institutional racism in America is more complecated that your silly, ignorant simplistic statement.  "James Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an American politician who served for 48 years as a United States Senator. He ran for president in 1948 as the States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes. Thurmond represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 until 2003, at first as a Democrat and, after 1964, as a Republican. Thurmond switched parties because of his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, disaffection with the liberalism of the national party, and his support for the conservatism and opposition to the Civil Rights bill of the Republican presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater" from Wikipedia

      • ct says:

        Indeed it was southereners that filibustered the Civil Rts Act, most were Democrats at the time and promptly fled to their new home, the GOP.  LBJ acknowledged that supporting the CRA would lead to the Democrats losing the south for generations if I recall my history, in more than ten words.  But remember the Troll is none-too-bright and a documented F'ing liar to boot.  Oh and his self-proclaimed IQ is in the "98th percentile" which means it is not too discerning when it comes to reality as well.  

        • BlueCat says:

          And what counts now is who represents what now, who supports now with their votes.

          • BlueCat says:

            Should be…. who supports what now with their votes. If you change your position on, say, equal marriage rights and then actually support it, who cares if we call that a flip flop. The result is real support. If you simply change to a more conciliatory tone on, say, personhood but keep promoting and voting for the same anti-choice policies then you haven't really changed at all and your flip flop is just a self serving ploy

            Could a change in the way you vote be a self serving ploy? Sure. But if it accomplishes real, positive change, regardless of motive, we'll take it. A candidate's purity of motive is of less concern then the concrete results of that candidate's actions. By definition, a politician is going to to take political consequences into consideration. You know. Because that's what politicians do. Politics. That's why they're called "politicians", not "philanthropist"s or "saints".

      • dwyer says:

        Thurmond ran for president in 1948 precisely to protest Truman's executive order desegregating the military.  Our two greates and bravest presidents in terms of civil rights were both from segregated states …..Missiouri and Texas,

        Truman and Johnson….Courage beyond belief, IMHO.  Particularly Johnson, who had seen Kennedy assassinated…..and knew of the violence that accompanied the civil rights revolution in the South.

        I believe that Truman's desegregation of the military, the universal draft and the GI Bill for anyone who served, peacetime or wartime, set the stage for the public acceptance of integregation in the 60s.  Black and white GIs served together and had a common enemy….the Army.    The GI Bill also is the foundation for the middle class that grew after WWII.

    • nota33 says:

      Now the republicans are the party of racism and those democrats you speak of are republicans today.

    • langelomisterioso says:

      Moddy we realize you're too stupid to realize those Democrats were conservatives. You'veevidently bought all the way in to the theme that if someone is Democrat they're automatically so liberal they'd make your teeth ache. I recall that it was Richard Nixon who started both the  EPA and OSHA. I also recall that it was conservatives both Democrats and Republicans who fought LBJ on the civil rights and voting acts. Those Democrat rock-ribbed conservatives became Dixiecrats who then morphed into full-blown Republicans so they're yours now. Amongthe otherr things we know is that you're a five-star idiot who thinks your view of the world is reality.

  3. ct says:

    Robert Byrd was in the KKK!  Lincoln freed the Slaves!!!!  

  4. Andrew Carnegie says:

    CT's complete knowledge of American history, in 10 words or less.

  5. Republican 36 says:

    A Matter of Trust

    All of his flip-flops over the past two months raises the issue of trust. The bottom line is Mr. Gardner can't be trusted.

    Personhood: Mr. Gardner vociferously supported the Personhood Amendment until March 21, 2014. He had supported it for nearly a decade. He carried petions to place it on the ballot in Colorado. In July 2013 he became a cosponsor of the federal Personhood Amendment introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. In late January 2014, he voted for an anti-choice bill in the U.S. House and just four days before he threw the Personhood Amendment under the bus, a wrote a letter, signed by him, to a 4thCD constituent stating that he supported the principles in the Personhood Amendment.

    Since March 21st, Mr. Gardner has tried to have it "both ways" by saying on the one hand he is pro-life and his record proves it (I agree with him on that) but on the other, he just isn't for the Personhhod Amendment in Colorado but he is still for imposing it on Colorado via federal legislation. Since he remains committed to the federal Personhood legislation, he is still for taking away a woman's right to choose and for severely restricting or eliminating a woman's right to have birth control. 

    No one, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, pro choice or pro life can believe him.

    He's done the same thing on the immigration issues. His tact is to say something that he hopes people will interpret as a softening of his position without really changing it at all. The bottom line is the moniker someone tag him with earlier fits just fine: "Con man Cory."

    • Moderatus says:

      I believe Jason Salzman said a speech was required to remove him as a co-sponsor of that bill. Has that happened?

      I too am pro life, and I know Gardner is pro-life. Gardner specifically cited the Colorado Personhood's amendment's unintended consequences, but he remains pro-life.

      • Republican 36 says:

        Thank you. That confirms my analysis.

      • BlueCat says:

        In other words you and Gardner believe everything in the personhood amendment.You just want to somehow convince people you believe it in a less extreme way even though there is no difference at all between what you believe and what the personhood amendments say. 

        That's the story for you repugs on everything, including convincing women and Hispanic voters you really are friendly to them without changing any actual positions on actual issues. It can only work if all the people you want to convince are as profoundly clueless as you are.

        • dwyer says:

          Personhood is a state measure that was designed to be voted on by the people. The Federal legislation would cover all the states and be voted on by Congress…..Repubicans NEVER vote to outlaw all abortion.  NEVER>  They may sponsor, but they don't vote…..political impotence….

      • Charlie3637 says:

        The two bills are the identical. The federal legislation is called the "Life At Conception" Act, (HR 1091) and bans any form of birth control that keeps the fertilized egg from implanting on the wall of the uterus. The only difference is the federal legislation applies to the nation, whereas the Colorado personhood bill is limited to the state. Gardner would have to go to the floor of the House of Representatives and verbally ask for unanimous consent to remove his name from the legislation, which could be a tad bit embarrassing for the Congressman.  

        A member has go to the House floor and technically ask for unanimous consent to remove their name as co-sponsor of the bill,” said Sarah Binder, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And you can do that up until the point at which the committee reports the bill to the floor.”

        Read full analysis at

        I wonder if Gardner knew this when he backed away from the Colorado personhood legislation.  The 10th most conservative member of the House asking to remove his name from the federal personhood legislation which has 130 co sponsors? Not sure that would go over so well…..



        • ct says:

          Its almost like he's a liar rather than a flip flopper.  Wonder if Eli or someone will ask him that in the debate? "Which is it Congressman? Liar or flip flopper?"

  6. Diogenesdemar says:

    Short answer:  Gardner hasn't changed, and isn't going to change . . . 

    . . . he's just SAYING he's changed (in order to make himself appear more electable).

    I'm surprised at how so many of you seem to understand so little about today's GOPers. It's like you all just started reading this site today for the very first time. WTF?!?

  7. Laura Snow says:

    Mark Udall all the way! However you describe Cory Gardner: extremist, flip-flopper, or opportunist — it's not not good. 

  8. dwyer says:

    I want to reiterate that the Udall commercial on choice and Respect is classy.

    However, Gardner is positioning himself to respond when SCOTUS rules on Hobby Lobby and little sisters.  He is deliberately vague.  The strategy that the establishment repubs spelled out was followed by the winners' in last night's republican primaries.  It will be interesting to see what happens after SCOTUS….will Udall remain ahead in the polls?  What will Gardner do?

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.