UPDATE: Cory Gardner reaffirms he’s all in in a statement today:
Earlier today we noted that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently announced his support of Donald Trump for President over the weekend. Like many Republicans, Gardner had been avoiding questions about his support for Trump — even though he was on record pledging to support the GOP nominee for President — but Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette caught Gardner’s admission of support for Trump at the annual El Paso County Republican Party fundraiser on Friday night.
Gardner’s support of Trump is buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa in Schrader’s story from Friday, which is why this is just now making waves on Tuesday. From the Gazette:
[Darryl] Glenn enthusiastically backed Trump when he addressed the crowd – a sentiment that was echoed by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.
“That’s why I’m voting Republican up and down the ticket. A Republican president will make a difference, even a Republican president named Donald Trump,” said Gardner [Pols emphasis], who last year accomplished what Glenn hopes to do this year by unseating one of Colorado’s Democratic senators.
Perhaps Gardner and his staff hoped that they could sweep this under the rug entirely, and they damn near succeeded. Gardner’s admission that he is voting for Trump should have been breaking news, but after lying dormant for a few days, his quote finally got mainstream attention today. This may be hard for Gardner to explain, of course, since he has been so anti-Trump for most of the 2016 election cycle:
— Shawn Hils (@ShawnHils) August 16, 2016
Gardner’s public support of Trump creates a new problem for Republican Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has been trying to toe the middle line between concern about Trump and concern about losing Republican voters who love Trump.
Coffman has been taking a lot of heat for his wish wash on Trump, and the negative press he has earned as a result has been pretty rough (not to mention the verbal beatdown he received from former Rep. Tom Tancredo, whom Coffman once called his “hero”).
Last week Coffman’s hometown Aurora Sentinel published a strongly-worded editorial calling on Coffman and other Republicans to condemn Trump with no strings attached, which Coffman didn’t want to do. Coffman’s response to the Sentinel editorial was almost a word-for-word copy of a standard Trump talking point:
“What they forget is that Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt and dishonest politician ever to run for the Presidency.”
In the course of just a few weeks, Coffman has run a TV ad saying that he “doesn’t like Trump very much,” which was followed by several interviews in which Coffman refused to rule out voting for Trump. All of this made Coffman look particularly ridiculous, and his waffling no doubt contributed to a growing narrative about Coffman’s inability to stick with a position on anything.
With Gardner’s public support of Trump, Coffman now has to try to explain his position on Trump all over again — and in new detail. Gardner says he will vote for Trump. Will Coffman still try to refuse to answer that question?