We've got several clips of video from yesterday's debates in Grand Junction hosted by civic engagement group Club 20 to share, but one particularly noteworthy exchange between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner last night needed to get in the record right away. In this truly remarkable clip of video, Udall hammers Gardner over his longstanding support for banning abortion, including making abortion a class 3 felony–which could result in health care providers receiving harsher prison sentences for performing abortions than persons found guilty of rape.
Gardner's attempt to pivot away from this issue, as you'll see, did not go well:
UDALL: Congressman. When it comes to a woman's reproductive rights and women's health, how can women and families trust you? You voted for a class 3 felony bill that would punish doctors more than rapists, you voted against providing emergency contraception to rape victims, you supported a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. After you told the, uh, Colorado, the Fort Collins newspaper that you would not do anything of that sort. How can families and how can women trust you when it comes to staying out of their personal health care decisions?
GARDNER: Senator Udall, I look forward to growing an economy that makes sure that women have jobs in this country, the kind of jobs that they are lacking right now. I look forward to putting economic policies together that keep women in this country from struggling to make ends meet as they are under Barack Obama's failed economy. And look, I understand, I understand that you have a concern with my position, I'm pro life, and I believe every life is precious, and I understand that you do not support that policy…
UDALL: Congressman, you didn't answer my question.
GARDNER: But what I think we ought to do is recognize that women around this country deserve a growing economy.
MODERATOR: You should answer his question.
UDALL: Would you answer my question? Would you answer my question?
GARDNER: I answered your question about…
UDALL: How can women and families trust you?
GARDNER: Because I…
UDALL: Why are you getting between women and their doctors? Why are you asking, women… (unintelligible) …why should just Washington businessmen, Washington congressmen tell women what they should do?
Sen. Udall's words at the very end of the clip are tougher to understand, mostly because the raucous applause from the audience was drowning him out–please help us correct this transcript if you find any errors. But by that time, Gardner's attempt to pivot off the issue had done more than just fallen flat. Gardner revealed himself as totally unprepared to answer questions about his record on reproductive choice. Gardner's answers up to now to straightforward questions about his record are simply not backed by the facts, and Udall would have been ready for any of them.
So the only choice Gardner has is to pivot to something else. Even when doing so is disastrous all by itself.