UPDATE: CNN’s Jeremy Diamond notes the irony as well:
Gardner also deflected questions about Rubio’s poor voting attendance record, citing a “double standard” between Rubio and past presidential contenders running from the Senate.
But Gardner took a very different stance toward voting absences last year in his election fight against Sen. Mark Udall, the Democrat Gardner unseated last November. [Pols emphasis]
“What was Senator Udall’s record? Absent for over half the public hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Absent for all public hearings on emerging threats,” said a narrator in a Gardner campaign ad slamming Udall for missing national security hearings.
“Mark Udall’s wrong and absent when it counts,” said the ad, which Gardner posted on his Facebook page.
News outlets are treating today’s announcement on the Fox News Channel (above) by freshman Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that he will endorse fellow Sen. Marco Rubio in the Republican presidential primary as a big deal. The Denver Post’s John Frank reports:
“Our country needs a new generation of leadership, and I believe that Marco Rubio presents this nation with the greatest possibilities and opportunities to meet the challenges of the next generation,” Gardner said in a choreographed appearance on Fox News.
Gardner’s endorsement of Rubio for the 2016 GOP nomination makes him the first U.S. senator to pick a favorite — and the campaign’s highest profile backer in Colorado. Rubio endorsed Gardner in 2014 and cut a Spanish language TV ad for him. It’s also a sign of Rubio’s strong performance in the GOP debate in Colorado.
Count us among observers who still don’t see how Rubio particularly shined during last Wednesday’s chaotic presidential debate in Boulder, except possibly by failing to join in Ted Cruz’s ill-advised fit of petulant media bashing. Frank wryly notes that while Gardner claims to have just reached the decision to endorse Rubio, from the tone of the endorsement “his choice seemed clear for weeks.”
If you watch the five-minute clip above of Gardner’s endorsement on Fox News today, it’s interesting to note that the Fox anchor actually questions Gardner pretty strongly over Rubio’s record in the U.S. Senate–including one bit that might come back to haunt them both:
In the Fox News interview, Gardner also defended Rubio for missing Senate votes, despite criticizing his 2014 opponent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, for not attending ISIS hearings.
“I think if you look at others who have run for president, this seems to be a double standard that’s taking place right now,” Gardner said… [Pols emphasis]
But as John Frank linked back to in his latest story, Gardner’s the one exercising a double standard. From a story last October on a Senate race debate:
Gardner pressed Udall on his previous statements downplaying the Islamic State’s threat level and criticized him for missing Senate subcommittee hearings on emerging national security threats. [Pols emphasis]
“Where were you?” Gardner asked. “And what’s more important than our national security?”
As USA TODAY reported in September, Marco Rubio has the worst record of missed votes of any U.S. Senator–more than his colleagues in the Senate who are also running for President, and certainly more than Sen. Mark Udall missed while unsuccessfully defending his seat from Cory Gardner just last year. It may not be a perfect apples-to-apples comparison between a Senate and a presidential campaign in terms of the time commitment, but it certainly doesn’t help Rubio to have this hypocrisy hanging over Gardner’s endorsement of Rubio’s campaign.
Bottom line: we certainly understand why Rubio turned to Gardner for a timely boost. Gardner’s narrow victory in 2014 has been spun into a “model” for Republican success in competitive races in many national conservative circles, despite the fact that it was a product of what most acknowledge today as an audacious campaign of deception, misrepresenting Gardner’s record on a range of key issues from abortion to renewable energy. Rubio would obviously love to appropriate Gardner’s aura of fresh-faced victory for himself, but it may not be possible to replicate what Gardner did in 2014.
Because it’s actually quite difficult to prevaricate as well as Cory Gardner.