Politico's James Hohmann reports from yesterday's debate between Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner, moderated by Manu Raju:
“Carbon pollution is real,” said Udall. “We’re prepared to put a price on carbon … I support putting a price on carbon.”
Gardner repeatedly pressed Udall to say what exact price he would put on carbon, but the senator declined. The Republican acknowledged that humans play a role in global warming and said he supports trying to reduce carbon emissions, but he said it cannot be done in a way that kills jobs.
“There is no doubt that pollution contributes to the climate changing around us,” said Gardner… [Pols emphasis]
Democrats were quick to point out that in January of this year, Gardner voted against an amendment that would have explicitly stated that climate change is real. The measure, which failed to clear the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stated that "Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency (contained in the proposed rule referred to in section 4(2)) that '[g]reenhouse gas (GHG) pollution threatens the American public’s health and welfare by contributing to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment."
Gardner also rejected the theory of man-made climate change as a Colorado state representative in 2010. "I think the climate is changing, but I don't believe humans are causing that change to the extent that's been in the news," he said at the time. [Pols emphasis]
Much like when Gardner was caught red-handed lying to voters about his record on renewable energy, we assume there's some kind of semantic interpretation of his exact words that will allow Gardner's campaign to claim this is not the wholesale reversal on this issue it plainly appears to be. When cornered with the fact that the bill Gardner claimed he "cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry" had failed to result in a single renewable energy project, you'll recall his campaign responded that the ad says he wrote the bill "to launch," not "that launched" the industry. The tacit admission in their defense that the entire premise of the ad was false didn't even faze the Gardner campaign, and the ad continued to run for weeks afterward. To us, this seems like a very odd way to run for office, but Gardner has kept this race competitive close all summer. So clearly it's a tactic that has worked in the short term.
Unfortunately for Gardner, that only works so many times. With only very few exceptions, the press has stopped buying Gardner's reversals uncritically, and the fact that he's objectively not being honest is finally sticking in the public consciousness. And now, adding climate change to a growing list of issues, Gardner has gifted Democrats the means to defeat him–by living up to the charge that he will say anything to get elected.