Tuesday Open Thread

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

–Edmund Burke

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Paid Family Leave Goes Sideways: Just Pass a Damn Bill

UPDATE: Senator Faith Winter and Rep. Matt Gray say they’re not giving up:

Senator Faith Winter and Representative Matt Gray released the following statement regarding their dedication to creating a fair family and medical leave benefit for Colorado.

“We are fully committed to passing a paid family and medical leave program this year. The approach we’ve been working on would provide a much-needed benefit to Colorado workers. This is a very complex policy; we are still working to find the right solution, and we won’t stop until we get there. Too many Coloradans are fearful that one unforeseen event could upend their entire lives and their carefully laid plans for the future. Guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and the economic security it provides will give more Coloradans the fair shot they deserve.”

—–

Sen. Faith Winter (D), champion of paid family leave.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports today, the yet-to-be-introduced bill to create a paid family leave system for Colorado workers–a major policy priority for Democrats in full control of the Colorado General Assembly–has been dealt a setback after two Democratic sponsors pulled out of the effort:

[Sen. Faith] Winter and [Rep. Matt] Gray have been working to craft a bill that would bring paid leave benefits to workers across industries and income brackets. But it’s been immensely difficult, they’ve said, to achieve that goal while also satisfying the long list of concerns from well-funded and politically connected business groups — not to mention the governor, whose fingerprints are all over the latest bill draft…

This bill was a top priority for Democrats entering this session, just as it was in 2019. Asked if it’s now effectively dead, Winter said, “I don’t know. I always want to keep trying. I don’t know what that looks like going forward.”

The matter could be settled at the ballot instead of in the Capitol. Anticipating that the bill might either get watered down or entirely destroyed, progressive advocates in January announced plans to try to put a paid family leave program onto Colorado 2020 ballot. They said they’ve got significant financial backing.

If such a measure does land on Colorado’s ballot, it’s a near-certainty that business groups will put significant money into defeating it…

After managing only to pass a “study bill” in the 2019 session, paid family leave backers had high hopes going into the 2020 session that some kind of program would make it through this year–legislation that, though maybe not perfect, would still provide a meaningful benefit to thousands of Colorado workers who currently have no paid leave option. Gov. Jared Polis weighed into the debate recommending a privately-administered family leave insurance program, which upset some on the left who wanted a public program with resources fully devoted to benefits instead of corporate profit.

The situation to us is not unlike the blue-on-blue debate over the Affordable Care Act in 2009-10, in which a public option insurance plan to compete with private offerings became a point of contention between Democrats that nearly sank the entire bill. In retrospect, the millions of Americans who have benefited from the ACA even without the public option made the wisdom of “just passing the damn bill” indisputable. The moral of that story is straightforward: defeat never leaves you in a stronger position, and passing an imperfect bill that gets a major reform moving is better than passing nothing.

It is with all of this in mind that we urge Democrats to keep trying to get to majority support on a paid family leave program, and to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good with respect to the finer points. Polling has consistently shown broad public support for paid family leave, including large percentages of family-friendly conservatives. Whatever may be needed down the road to improve what is feasible to pass today, passing something today is both politically and practically the right course.

Now we’ll see once again whether Colorado can have nice things.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 24)

We’re one week away from Super Tuesday, which makes today…still just a regular “Monday.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado’s votes in the Presidential Primary won’t be will be revealed until next Tuesday, so you still have some time to make your decision (but only a few more days if you plan on returning your ballot by mail). Go to GoVoteColorado.com if you need ballot or voting information. Today is the last day to register to vote and still receive a ballot for the Presidential Primary. Also, remember that 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday as long as they will officially turn 18 before the November General Election.

Elizabeth Warren held a big campaign rally at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Sunday and is making a late push for undecided Colorado voters. Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, made a campaign stop in Aurora; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on a cool moment from Buttigieg’s “town hall” meeting.

Bernie Sanders was not in Colorado over the weekend, but his big victory in Nevada gives his campaign yet more momentum. Former Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off a second-place finish in Nevada, gets a big endorsement in South Carolina.

CBS4 Denver takes a different angle on recent candidate visits by profiling a local audio/visual company that makes sure these big events can be heard and seen.

 

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post pens a must-read story on the ongoing loyalty purge being implemented at the request of President Trump:

When Trump demands that the Justice Department do his political bidding and/or rages at it for failing to do so, the press tends to treat this as flowing from an actual belief on Trump’s part: He really thinks a “deep state” cabal is out to get him, and he’s fighting back.

But this is a fundamental error. Trump is raging at officials who constitute an obstacle to his own active, ongoing corruption of the rule of law. And it’s working: The Justice Department actually is carrying out his corrupt bidding in many ways.

Barr actually did work to reduce Stone’s sentencing recommendation. (Even if you think the original recommendation was too strict, this is still not okay, given who Stone is.) Barr actually has opened a direct line to Trump’s private attorney for dirt on Joe Biden. The Justice Department actually did try to help block the whistleblower complaint revealing Trump’s Ukraine shakedown from getting to Congress. Barr actually did badly mislead the country about the special counsel’s findings.

As Aaron Rupar writes for Vox.com, Trump’s rambling explanations for some of the reasons behind his purge don’t make a lot of sense.

 

 Stories continue to filter out after last week’s campaign rally for President Trump in Colorado Springs. Among the more notable storylines: Trump’s completely dishonest claims about wind power, which is a burgeoning industry in Colorado. Republican elected officials in Colorado aren’t batting an eye, but at least one notable Mayor is pushing back at Trump’s wind rage.

 

 As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is getting national attention for coming health care battles:

Colorado has become a national battleground in the health care fight, particularly since Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers began pursuing a state insurance option. A “dark money” campaign has aired more than $800,000 worth of ads and sent mailers to voters criticizing Democrats’ efforts.

Sponsors are confident they have the votes to pass a bill in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, but they have made significant changes to the initial recommendations in an attempt to garner more support across the aisle. They’re not proposing a pure public option but rather a statewide health insurance option that would be run by private insurance. Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, said the sponsors are also willing to consider amendments as the bill moves through the statehouse.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Monday Open Thread

“Catering to populist anger with extremist proposals that are certain to fail is not a viable strategy for political success.”

–Max Boot

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Mayor of Palm Springs Has More Guts Than Cory Gardner

Palm Springs, CA Mayor Geoff Kors.

President Donald Trump’s more or less fact-free tirade against wind power in Colorado Springs Thursday evening, in which Trump claimed among other things that wind turbines are “all made in China and in Germany” despite the fact that Colorado has thousands of workers employed by wind turbine manufacturer Vestas in production plants across the state, provoked a fiery response Friday from one Geoff Kors–the mayor of Palm Springs, California. Trump singled out Palm Springs in particular Thursday due to the presence of a large nearby wind farm at San Gorgonio Pass, one of the largest and oldest such facilities in the nation:

Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors Friday fired back at President Donald Trump’s recent comments at a campaign rally in Colorado, where he blasted Palm Springs’ windmills, saying they “look like hell.”

Kors responded by praising the city’s quest to achieve 100% carbon- free energy in the face of climate change, and called the windmills that dot Interstate 10 “especially beautiful.”

“It is unfortunate that, at this critical time in our history, we have a president who lies about and denigrates clean green power while embracing and promoting dirty power such as coal and offshore oil drilling, which is destroying our planet,” Kors said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm.

As the Sacramento Bee reports, this isn’t the first time Trump has dissed the city that bills itself “the golf capital of the world” over the nearby San Gorgonio Pass wind farm:

It’s not the first time Trump has been angry about the Palm Springs windmills. In 2012, Trump tweeted that Palm Springs had been “destroyed” by the “world’s ugliest wind farm.”

In 2016, Trump said Palm Springs was a “poor man’s version of Disneyland” on a radio show, The Desert Sun reported.

Now to be as fair as we can, Trump’s disdain for the Palm Springs area may have as much to do with failed casino management scheme in the nearby Coachella Valley in which Trump got Trumped by the Twenty-nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. It’s a fascinating side story, the kind that Trump has left littered in his wake for decades–but we digress.

Trump’s broadside against wind power in Colorado Springs on Thursday contained statements that should have resulted in fierce bipartisan pushback–and that means from the Colorado Republicans who directly represent wind power manufacturing plants and workers in our state. Back in 2012, when then-GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised to end the wind power production tax credit, some of the same Republicans who were silent this week were forced to distance themselves from their nominee:

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) is the latest Republican to come out against Mitt Romney’s plan to end the production tax credit for the wind industry.

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Tipton rejected Romney’s pledge to end the wind tax credit, saying that the industry needs at least two years before it can be self-sustainable. “Do you want to cut it off when they’re on the cusp of being where we want them to be and to be able to create jobs and to be able to part of the energy solution?” Tipton asked, before answering his own question: “No, I don’t think we do.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), from a 2014 campaign ad highlighting Gardner’s support for renewable energy.

E&ENews reported in August of 2012:

Another wind-heavy state that could help decide the election is Colorado, where Romney’s newly aggressive opposition to the PTC also got plenty of attention yesterday. The industry supports at least 5,000 to 6,000 Colorado jobs, according to AWEA, and extending the credit has bipartisan support among the state’s congressional delegation. Freshman Colorado Republican Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton were among those who signed onto a letter to House leaders in June urging extension of the credit.

President Barack Obama fired back at Romney on the campaign trail in Pueblo:

“[A]t a moment when homegrown energy is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers. Think about what that would mean for a community like Pueblo. The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state,” Obama plans to say Thursday in Pueblo, Colo., where the Danish wind turbine giant Vestas has a major manufacturing plant.

We of course understand that the political climate in the country has changed considerably since 2012, mostly due to President Trump’s unprecedented free-ranging ignorance and rambling speechification completely untethered from any need for factuality. But for Colorado Republicans who were in 2012 forced to acknowledge reality, due to their representation of the very real people and industries who belie such deceitful attacks on wind energy, cheering on President Trump while he says things that would have been considered an unqualified disaster for the GOP a few years ago is just too much.

If there is no price to be paid for this by Colorado Republicans, not even an acknowledgement that their Republican President was spewing one alarming falsehood after another about an industry that employs thousands of Coloradans, a crucial element of accountability that once existed has broken down.

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Trump Lies About Wind Power While Gardner, Tipton, Buck Cheer


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

A portion of President Donald Trump’s hour and forty minute rambling disquisition yesterday evening in Colorado Springs devoted to the subject of wind power is provoking considerable discussion today–not just for the extremely fact-challenged nature of Trump’s oft-repeated bogus complaints about wind energy, but also the Colorado Republicans who stood idly by clapping while Trump disparaged an industry that directly employs literally thousands of Coloradans.

Transcribed for those readers who find a minute and twelve seconds of Trump too much to bear:

TRUMP: They want to use wind, wind wind, wind blow please, please blow. Please please keep the birds away from those windmills, please. Tell those beautiful bald eagles, oh no a bald eagle! You know if you shoot a bald eagle, they put you in jail for a long time. But the windmills knock them out like crazy. It’s true. And I think they have a rule, after a certain number of kills they have to close down the windmill until the following year. Do you believe this? Do you believe this? And they’re all made in China and in Germany, Siemens… [Pols emphasis]

AUDIENCE: (boos loudly)

TRUMP: And for those of you that want to hear it, when they’re making them, more stuff goes up into the air, and up into the ozone, the atmosphere. More stuff is going up there, they’re making it, ay yi yi…and they don’t say this but after a period of time they get tired, they get old, they get rusty, and a lot of the guys say hey their useful life is gone, let’s get the hell out of here. And they’re all over the place. You look at Palm Springs California, take a look, Palm Springs, they’re all over the place. They’re closed, they’re rotting, they look like hell.

We’ll start by acknowledging the possibility that the audience booed Trump after he claimed wind turbines “are all made in China and in Germany,” because they knew that Colorado is home to four wind power manufacturing facilities owned by Vestas which directly employ over 3,700 Coloradans–from Windsor in the northern part of the state to Pueblo’s Vestas turbine tower plant in the south. But as much as we would like to give the crowd in attendance the benefit of the doubt, it’s sadly much more likely that the crowd was simply booing any mention of China and Germany: either ignorant or unconcerned with the robust wind power manufacturing industry in our own state.

For at least three Republicans who stood with Trump on stage yesterday, there’s a bigger problem. Reps. Ken Buck and Scott Tipton both represent Vestas wind power manufacturing plants in their districts, as well as the thousands of employees who work there. And not only did Sen. Cory Gardner represent Vestas plants and workers in Congress and the U.S. Senate, in 2014 Gardner ran for the U.S. Senate on his “different kind of Republican” platform that highlighted Gardner’s support for renewable energy (see above).

With all of this in mind, what should Colorado voters take away from Trump’s low-information lambasting of wind power while Republicans who know better stood idly by and cheered his falsehoods on? Do they agree with Trump disparaging thousands of Colorado workers based on egregiously false information, or are they just too afraid to call Trump out?

Back before Trump turned bald-faced lies into a daily routine, this would be a front page story.

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Well, That Was Awkward

President Trump was in Colorado Springs on Thursday for a political rally focused mostly on himself and his various grievances (including the media and The Academy Awards), but also to help out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) who demonstrated his allegiance earlier this month when he voted to acquit Trump on impeachment charges.

Trump has been in office for more than three years now — and Gardner has been right beside him the whole time — but until Thursday there were literally no photos of the two of them close enough to touch except for a few screenshots of the two exiting Air Force One in West Virginia back in August 2018.

So it was that Gardner’s greeting of Trump onstage Thursday was…pretty awkward. Here’s how it starts, with Gardner reaching out for a long-range handshake as though they are separated by a canal full of alligators:

President Trump and Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs (*not a real alligator).

 

From here, Gardner launches into a strange hug shake that was enjoyable to watch in the same way that it’s fun to giggle at cringeworthy reality television shows.

How do you classify this? Is it a handshake? A bro hug? A bro shake? Whatever you call it, Cory is coming in hot!

 

If we slow it down a little, we can see that the greeting starts as a handshake…

 

 

It isn’t until you watch this exchange in super-slow motion that you can fully understand the awkwardness. Watch below as Trump recoils in horror as Gardner attempts to turn his handshake into a hug. Marvel at how Trump yanks his arm away as though it were about to be eaten by a lion. As soon as Gardner touches his arm with his left hand, Trump jolts like Cory has an electric buzzer in his palm.

Also, the guy in the back standing next to Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is very excited about all of this. Like, weirdly excited. (Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, perhaps?)

We hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Have a nice weekend.

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Who Will Win the Nevada Caucuses?

Colorado’s near-neighbor Nevada weighs in on the 2020 Democratic Presidential race on Saturday, which means it’s time for us to once again ask your opinion.

As with all of our totally non-scientific polls here at Colorado Pols, we want to know what you think will happen on Saturday — not who you support or what outcome you would prefer. Think of it like a placing a wager on a sporting event; if you had to put money on the outcome in Nevada, who would you pick?

Cast your vote after the jump…

(more…)

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Trump Blows Gardner’s “Impartial” Veneer To Smithereens

Photo by Erik Maulbetsch, Colorado Times Recorder

Yesterday’s massive GOP rally at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, headlined by President Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, and front-and-center Sen. Cory Gardner, took one of the biggest variables in the 2020 elections in Colorado off the table. Gardner, down by double digits in the polls in a state strongly trending away from the GOP brand in recent elections, has had every opportunity put distance between himself and Trump before November.

As of yesterday evening, we can predict confidently that’s not going to happen. Denver7’s Blair Miller:

President Donald Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner propped up one another as well as the Republican policies implemented by both as they campaigned for re-election Thursday at a lengthy rally in Colorado Springs.

Trump, whose approval ratings are far underwater in Colorado, called Gardner “a champion” and said Gardner had his “complete and total support and endorsement,” adding that Gardner “will never let you down.” Both have endorsed one another for re-election.

“Vote for Cory, vote for Trump, vote for the Republican Party,” Trump said. “We’re getting it done.” [Pols emphasis]

Last night’s mutual lovefest between Trump and Gardner puts to rest forever the false claim Gardner made to inquiring reporters during the impeachment trial–at least the ones who were able to corner him long enough to ask. Even as Gardner’s Senate colleagues from Mitch McConnell on down the line publicly scoffed at the idea that Senators were expected to be impartial, despite their oath requiring exactly that, Cory Gardner insisted that he was indeed impartially weighing the evidence:

“I am focused entirely on fulfilling my Constitutional duty as an impartial juror and my responsibility to listen to both sides present their case,” [Gardner] said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]

But as the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports, anybody who ever believed that was the butt of the joke last night in Colorado Springs.

“You are going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line because he’s been with us 100%,” Trump told a boisterous crowd of supporters in Colorado Springs, referring to Gardner’s re-election in November. “There was no waver. He’s been with us. There was no waver with Cory and we appreciate that.”

Gardner, who voted this month to acquit Trump and prevent witnesses in the Senate’s trial, has his “total support and endorsement,” the president said.

“We went through hoaxes, we went through the impeachment scam. And by the way, Cory was with us all the way,” Trump said. “He didn’t move, he didn’t budge. He said it’s a lot of bull. He said it’s a lot of bull.” [Pols emphasis]

That Gardner was dishonest with the press and the voters of Colorado when he claimed to be “impartial” is of course not a surprise. Gardner was one of the first to endorse Trump’s re-election. Before and since the impeachment trial, Gardner has headlined Trump fundraising events, and the two campaigns have established a joint fundraising committee. If anything it was a surprise to see Gardner insisting on this obviously false pretense even after his colleagues had discounted the whole idea of impartiality.

As everyone looking at this race seems to understand by now, Gardner is politically obliged to stick with Trump to the bitter end–lest he lose the only base from which he can build a majority coalition. Every chance Gardner had to show backbone–even Gardner’s own call for Trump to withdraw from the race in 2016, condemning Trump’s ‘brags about sexual assault’–has ended with quiet capitulation. And by pretending his fealty to Trump wasn’t what it looked like for so long, well past the point of believability, Gardner has only further squandered his reputation outside the Republican faithful.

This was a fateful moment for Cory Gardner. His metaphorical ships have now been burned.

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Trump Squashes Intel That Russia is Trying to Get Him Re-Elected

With President Trump’s Colorado Springs visit getting so much attention on Thursday, you may have missed a bombshell story about Russia’s continuing efforts to meddle in American elections.

As The New York Times reports:

Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him. 

The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. [Pols emphasis] Mr. Trump was particularly irritated that Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the leader of the impeachment proceedings, was at the briefing…

Though intelligence officials have previously told lawmakers that Russia’s interference campaign was continuing, last week’s briefing included what appeared to be new information: that Russia intended to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries as well as the general election.

On Wednesday, the president announced that he was replacing Mr. Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and an aggressively vocal Trump supporter. And though some current and former officials speculated that the briefing might have played a role in that move, two administration officials said the timing was coincidental. [Pols emphasis]

Former acting DNI Joseph Maguire, who lost his job for doing his job.

Let’s break this down into a short timeline of events:

1. Members of the House Intelligence Committee — both Democrats and Republicans — are briefed by national intelligence officials and told that not only is Russia trying to mess around with American elections again, but they are doing it in order to smooth the path for a second Trump term. Acting head of national intelligence Joseph Maguire presides over this briefing.

2. Trump is furious when he hears about the meeting and screams at Maguire in the Oval Office. As The Washington Post explains:

Trump announced Wednesday that he was replacing Maguire with a vocal loyalist, Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. ambassador to Germany. The shake-up at the top of the intelligence community is the latest move in a post-impeachment purge. Trump has instructed aides to identify and remove officials across the government who aren’t defending his interests, and he wants them replaced with loyalists.

Maguire, a career official who is respected by the intelligence rank and file, was considered a leading candidate to be nominated to the post of DNI, White House aides had said. But Trump’s opinion shifted last week when he heard from a Republican ally about the official’s remarks. [Pols emphasis]

3. Trump appoints Richard Grenell — the Ambassador to Germany who has been called “an unqualified loyalist“– to become the new acting director of national intelligence. Trump administration officials say that the hiring of Grenell and dismissal of Maguire was coincidental and not related to last week’s intelligence briefing. Nobody with even a partially-functioning brain believes this to be true, particularly given Trump’s loyalty purge since he was acquitted on impeachment charges.

President Trump is concerned that Democrats will be able to hurt his re-election chances by pointing to the fact that Russia wants him to remain in the Oval Office. He’s probably not wrong about this, but that doesn’t change the fact that Russia is actively trying to influence the 2020 Presidential election. Again. 

Does Trump want Russia’s help in winning re-election? Nobody would believe him if he said otherwise, but that’s really a separate issue at this point. The important thing isn’t to figure out whether or not anyone wants Russian interference to happen — what is absolutely critical is making sure that Russian election interference is stopped. Period.

The Colorado angle for this story leads us back to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who was feted by Trump on Thursday in Colorado Springs for his “unwavering” loyalty and “100%” support of the President. On Wednesday, 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger managed to find “Colorado’s most elusive politician” and asked him a question about foreign interference in our elections:

ZELINGER: We’ve never heard from you if you thought asking foreign assistance is illegal or unconstitutional would you do so in your…

GARDNER: It’s never okay for a foreign government to interfere with our elections. It’s never okay for that and I’ve certainly made a lot of points about that introducing legislation to make sure that other countries don’t do that. But if you’re talking about impeachment, that was a policy issue that we had to — you can’t impeach over policy issues.

ZELINGER: But in your campaign, would you do that would you ask for…

GARDNER: Absolutely not. In fact I’ve said I would go immediately to the FBI if there was any such an issue that we thought was coming up.

ZELINGER: ‘No’ because it’s illegal or because it’s unconstitutional…

GARDNER: If you look at what’s happening, look at what Russia wants to do, they want to destabilize our institutions they want to decrease the trust of our institutions and that that goes to the heart of it and so we have to do everything we can to protect the integrity of our institutions and the elections.

ZELINGER: But would you put a label on it? Illegal or unconstitutional?

GARDNER: I guess I don’t understand what you mean.

ZELINGER: If you were asking for foreign assistance?

GARDNER: No I wouldn’t do that, it’s wrong. It’s wrong, I wouldn’t do it.

Gardner has had trouble with this simple question for months, but now he says that it is wrong to ask foreign governments for election assistance. That’s cute, since Gardner had no problem with President Trump quite literally asking Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by kneecapping Joe Biden, a potential General Election opponent. Gardner will eventually say what he thinks you want to hear, but he clearly has no intention of doing what you think ought to be done. Remember that Gardner is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so this sort of thing is right in his supposed wheelhouse.

Russia wants Donald Trump to remain President of the United States. How Republicans respond to this reality is much more important than what words they use with reporters.

Republicans can take active efforts to thwart Russian election interference…or not. These are the only two courses of action that matter.

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The Donald and Cory Show Open Thread

UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio reports, together forever:

Between sweeping tributes to American greatness, sinister warnings and teases about the Space Command — along with complaints about fake news and the Oscars — the president showered praise on Sen. Cory Gardner, the Yuma Republican.

“We are going to win Colorado in a landslide. And you’re going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line, because he’s been with us 100 percent,” Trump said. “There was no waiver. We appreciate it. Thank you, Cory. Thank you.”

It was just the first of several times in the speech that the president praised Gardner and urged the crowd to support his reelection. Later, he described the freshman senator as “rock solid.”

—–

They’re counting down the hours now in Colorado Springs to the arrival of President Donald Trump, newly-announced surprise guest Vice President Mike Pence, and the man of the hour GOP Senator Cory Gardner at the Broadmoor World Arena–and in case you’re not in the crowd either attending or protesting outside, here’s where you can watch the main event live later today (expected to begin around 5:00 pm):

The crowd waiting outside is chilly but well-bundled under Trump-branded swag and MAGA hats:

We’ll update as the mutual admiration magic between Gardner and Trump unfolds this evening! By November Gardner may regret it dearly, but for the present it’s a day to remember. Stay tuned.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 20)

Happy National Love Your Pet Day…though that kinda seems like something that should just be every day. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is in Colorado Springs today for a rally with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as part of the post-impeachment payback tour. This event has been publicly known for about a week, but there was an interesting late addition to the schedule on Wednesday: Vice President Mike Pence. It’s pretty unusual for both the President and Vice President to appear in the same place at the same time for a political rally.

Colorado Public Radio has a pre-rally guide for those who will be listening to the speechifying. Ernest Luning of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman looks back at how Colorado Republicans became Trumpians.

Oh, and for you local taxpayers: The bill is in the mail.

 

 Democratic Presidential candidates debated in Las Vegas on Wednesday, where former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg played the role of a piñata. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears to be the big winner from Nevada scuffle with a strong, fiery performance that was evident from the first moments of the debate. Warren will visit Denver on Sunday for a campaign rally at the Fillmore Theater.

For more on Wednesday’s debate, here’s “Winners and Losers” from CNN, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, and NBC News.

 

► 9News managed to catch up with “Colorado’s most elusive politician,” finding Sen. Cory Gardner bobbing his head like some kind of maniacal, over-caffeinated squirrel:

 

Gardner danced around when 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger asked him if there was anything Trump could do to lose his support, then mumbled something about how it is inappropriate for foreign governments to interfere in American elections. Gardner really tried to expand the meaning of the phrase “town hall” at the end of this interview; he has not held one of those since November 2017. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is holding three town hall meetings this week.

Maybe Gardner is a bit blue because Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has moved Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race from “Toss Up” to “Leans Democratic.”

 

 It’s been a good week for former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020. Hickenlooper’s campaign needed just a couple of weeks to collect the required number of signatures to grant him ballot access in June. This week he also picked up high-profile endorsements from Senate President Leroy Garcia and Pipefitters Local 208.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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Warren Utterly Dominates Vegas Debate–What’s Next?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Persisting).

Although we are predominately concerned with Colorado politics in this space, our upcoming Super Tuesday date with destiny has all eyes in Colorado squarely focused on every development in the Democratic presidential primary–and last night, by all accounts, something dramatic happened at the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas that could have far-reaching effects on the race. Politico:

The Vegas debate stage had the feel of a late-night party suddenly crashed by an unwelcome visitor. [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren, who often says she “grew up fighting,” seized the role of bouncer from the earliest minutes, when the TV audience is often largest, by describing Bloomberg as “a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’” She later moved on to his record on civil rights (“You need a different apology here, Mr. Mayor”), accused him of “hiding his tax returns,” and performed an impromptu prosecution of Bloomberg’s use of non-disclosure agreements.

“Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” she said. [Pols emphasis]

When Warren wasn’t filleting Bloomberg, who stood directly to her right — mostly expressionless except for a dramatic eye roll during the NDA exchange — she turned to her left and delivered a rapid-fire series of attacks on Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, often in the same 90 seconds of her allotted time to answer a question.

The Daily Beast’s Erin Gloria Ryan captured some of the emotion from the epic “beatdown” delivered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren last night, mostly to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg but ably knocking down everyone else on stage–not even fully sparing Sen. Bernie Sanders as she’s developed a reputation for. Warren took a rare shot at Sanders, calling out his campaign for “relentlessly [attacking] everyone who asks a question or tries to fill in details about how to actually make this work.”

The Vegas crowd went wild, as Vegas crowds are wont to do during a beatdown.

After that, Bloomberg spent the rest of the debate with about as much gravitas as a ventriloquist dummy without a lap to sit on. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, turned in her strongest debate performance yet, striking Bloomberg over and over again like a viper with a grudge. Bloomberg was annihilated. He was decimated. He was degloved. Everything that a Democratic voter might find distasteful about Bloomberg was laid bare for everybody to see.

Warren didn’t just turn her sights on Bloomberg. She diminutized Mayor Pete’s health-care plan by calling it “a PowerPoint.” She called out Amy Klobuchar for having only two paragraphs explaining hers. She called out the idea of being a moderate in the first place. “We can’t be so eager to be liked by Mitch McConnell that we forget how to fight,” she said in reference to the moderates Joe Biden and Klobuchar, to thunderous, Vegas-y applause. By the time it was all over, it was clear that she’d won this one like Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Like a tremendous machine.

Sen. Warren is headed to Denver on Sunday for a rally at the Fillmore Theater, and her field campaign is fully engaged chasing ballots which are already in the hands of Colorado voters. The effect this powerful debate performance could have on the result, inversely proportional to the damage it may do to Bloomberg, is limited only by the audience for presidential primary debates and post-debate coverage of the extent to which Warren shredded the entire rest of the stage. Warren needs this to be a turning point, and Bloomberg needs the Democratic electorate to develop mass amnesia.

With that, we’ll turn it over to our readers: did Warren end Bloomberg last night? If so, did she distinguish herself enough to pull support from the rest of the field in time to stop Sanders’ widening delegate lead? The growing recognition that there can be only one Sanders alternative, and the persistently undecided nature of primary voters right up until the last minute this year, creates space where anything seems possible.

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Cory Gardner is Feeling Blue

It appears that folks around the country are starting to understand that Colorado has moved from a purplish-color to a more robust shade of blue.

Over at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race has been changed from Toss-Up to Leans Democratic:

The likely Democratic nominee, Hickenlooper, is not a perfect candidate, but he is a proven one, having won the state’s governorship in the difficult Democratic years of 2010 and 2014. He is hardly a favorite of the left, but that’s probably an asset in a general election environment. Republicans have been trying to criticize Hickenlooper over whether it was appropriate for him to accept free air travel while he was governor. Gardner’s path to victory likely involves Trump getting at least a little bit closer in Colorado than he did in 2016 and outwitting Hickenlooper on the trail. This reelection path for Gardner isn’t impossible, but he needs some things to break his way in order to retain his seat. Hence, it makes more sense to look at Gardner as an underdog. [Pols emphasis]

This analysis fits well with what we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years. Gardner’s poll numbers have been consistently terrible, and his decision to glue himself firmly to President Trump’s derriere on impeachment was not well-received in Colorado. And as you can see from the map below, voters in Colorado have steadily moved toward the left since Gardner was elected to the Senate by a slim margin in 2014.

Via CenterForPolitics.org

 

 

 

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Thursday Open Thread

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

–Vaclav Havel

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Colorado Springs Taxpayers Pay To Play MAGA

President Donald Trump.

As the Colorado Springs Independent reports:

[T]he Center for Public Integrity notes that Trump, who frequently frames himself as a champion of law enforcement, has left at least 10 cities holding the bill for nearly $1 million in public expenses, including police support, for his campaign events since 2016.

But Trump’s campaign won’t have to worry about stiffing the city of Colorado Springs or El Paso County for traffic control, police presence or other help with his Feb. 20 rally at The Broadmoor World Arena.

That’s because the city and county provide such services gratis to political candidates. Or at least that’s what officials tell the Indy on the eve of Trump’s first appearance here in the 2020 campaign cycle.

As readers know, the subject of reimbursement of local governments for the often-considerable expense of providing police and other municipal services for visiting political campaigns has been a hot-button issue in Colorado recently. Last July, the Pitkin County sheriff was obliged to go public with his attempts to collect for services rendered at a Mike Pence fundraiser in Aspen–funds in the end reimbursed after embarrassment in the media by high net worth Republican donors, including the co-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks Ken Kendrick.

With that in mind, we’ll take El Paso County at their word regarding free motorcade services available to all political comers. As host to the Air Force Academy and other major federal installations, no doubt expensive police motorcades come with the territory. Especially when it’s a Republican President rolling into town, “small government” takes a back seat to pomp and circumstance.

And really, is anybody surprised that Trump doesn’t pay these bills, even when asked? You shouldn’t be.

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A U.S. Senator Held a Town Hall Meeting; Guess Which One?

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Sen. Michael Bennet. You’ve probably only seen Bennet in real life.

The answer to the question in the headline is not very difficult to ascertain, so we’ll just skip to this story from The Denver Post:

On Tuesday evening, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet fielded concerns about the upcoming election during a town hall to a crowd of around 120 at the Peak Community and Wellness Center in Littleton.

“Everyone has to understand what’s at stake here,” Bennet said. “The rule of law is getting shattered.”…

…Bennet discussed the challenges Coloradans face trying to afford health care, housing and higher education. Jo Douglas, a 60-year-old from Littleton, asked Bennet about getting health insurance plans that are more accustomed to the needs of Coloradans.

“We have a broken health care market,” Bennet said. “Part of the problem we have, especially in rural areas, is there aren’t enough people in certain parts Colorado to have a real market to get people insured in a way that’s predictable and affordable.”

Bennet plans to hold two more town hall events this week: in Grand Junction (Thursday) and Steamboat Springs (Friday).

As a candidate for President, Bennet has spent most of the last year campaigning in other states; one week after ending his Presidential bid, he was back in Colorado talking to constituents.

Colorado’s other Senator, Republican Cory Gardner, last held a public town hall meeting on November 20, 2017. He has not been busy running for President.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Gardner on Guard

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk about the Presidential candidates as they start filing into Colorado; new polling on impeachment is bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner; and voter and demographic changes hint at more trouble for Republicans.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Hickenlooper Submits Petitions in (Probably) Record Time

The U.S. Senate campaign for former Gov. John Hickenlooper today filed petition signatures for inclusion on the Democratic Primary ballot in June. Hickenlooper’s campaign had previously said that it would pursue both the petition signature and caucus routes for ballot access.

The Hickenlooper campaign had until March 17 to submit petition signatures for ballot access; Hick’s camp began collecting signatures on Jan. 21, which means it took less than a month to reach the goal (candidates for U.S. Senate must collect 1,500 valid signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts). It’s difficult to say for sure that Hickenlooper set the mark for the shortest time required for a statewide candidate to collect petition signatures — there are no real records for this — but we certainly can’t recall another campaign putting signatures together this quickly.

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New Polling Loaded With More Bad News For Colorado GOP

Global Strategy Group, a nationwide public relations and comms firm, released new polling data via local liberal activist group ProgressNow Colorado reinforcing what a host of recent polls in Colorado have already corroborated: enduring Democratic majority “generic ballot” support from Colorado voters, the continuing deep unpopularity of President Donald Trump, and vulnerable incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner even less loved than our unpopular president:

Democrats may only have a 2-point lead on party registration, but they lead Republicans on party self identification and the generic vote for state legislature by much larger margins. Self-identified Democratic voters are also more motivated to vote in November than Republicans, with nearly nine in 10 being extremely motivated.

Meanwhile, voters view Democratic Governor Polis favorably and rate his job in office even higher, at a firm +10. Attitudes towards Democrats in the Colorado state legislature are mixed, but much warmer than those towards their Republican counterparts. Republican President Trump and Senator Gardner are both far underwater in comparison…

Trump’s job approval is quite poor (-12 NET approve) and is particularly bad with unaffiliated voters (-15). Moreover, while Trump has very conservative Republicans (who make up 11% of the electorate) consolidated, a good quarter of the larger block of less-conservative Republicans (17% of the electorate) disapprove of his performance. These low marks translate into a 12-point disadvantage against a generic Democrat in the race for President, when just 4 years ago he only lost Colorado by a 5-point margin.

Cory Gardner may be in an even worse position, and his decision to put his loyalty to Donald Trump ahead of doing what’s right for Colorado is costing him dearly. [Pols emphasis] By aligning himself with Trump, he has unified Democrats against him and alienated middle-of-the-road voters – but his own base remains fractured as well. Gardner not only loses the same less-conservative never-Trump Republicans that the president does, but he also garners approval from just three-quarters from the hard-right GOP base that universally adores Trump.

Read more details here. Although this poll doesn’t contain any head-to-head matchups, Sen. Cory Gardner came in with a 14-point disadvantage against a generic Democrat among voters who indicated a strong likelihood to turn out. Voters also have a heavy preference for Democratic legislative candidates in the upcoming election, another sign that the GOP’s retaliation campaign following the 2018 Democratic wave win has failed to gain traction. If there is any good news for Republicans, it’s that Trump’s approval rate remains pretty much static at 44%–perhaps a floor for Trump personally, though not for Gardner for whom GOP base support is consistently less committed.

For Democrats, it’s more encouraging news. For Republicans, 2018’s downward trajectory has only steepened.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 19)

Today is the 50th day of 2020; please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…

The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:

Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.

Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer is among many current and former Justice Department officials who think Barr should resign

You can thank Senate Republicans for fully unlocking Trump’s dictator mode. Here in Colorado, voters are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted for Trump’s impeachment acquittal purely as political protection.

 

The Democratic candidates for President will debate tonight in Nevada, which will also mark the first on-stage appearance of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s more on how candidates are courting Coloradans leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3:

♦ Jon Murray of The Denver Post breaks down how Bloomberg has been courting politicos in Colorado for decades.

♦ Elizabeth Warren has launched a new ad campaign in Colorado.

 Amy Klobuchar will be in Denver on Thursday. Tulsi Gabbard will be in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Joe Biden will not be appearing anywhere.

♦ President Trump is in Colorado Springs on Thursday with Sen. Cory Gardner. As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, Trump’s expensive visit will be paid for…by local taxpayers.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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BREAKING: Trump Offered Pardon to Julian Assange

UPDATE #2: The White House denies everything, but:

—–

UPDATE: Reuters confirms:

U.S. President Donald Trump offered to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he said that Russia had nothing to do with WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016, a London court heard on Wednesday…

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Assange’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald, referred to a witness statement by former U.S. Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher who had visited Assange in 2017, saying that he had been sent by the president to offer a pardon.

The pardon would come on the condition that Assange complied with the U.S. by saying that the Russians were not involved in the email leak which hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, Rohrabacher’s statement said.

—–

As The Daily Beast reports:

President Trump offered to pardon Julian Assange if he agreed to cover up the involvement of Russia in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee, which were later published by WikiLeaks, a London court was told on Wednesday. [Pols emphasis]

Lawyers acting for Assange have argued that the Australian should not be extradited to the U.S. because the case is political not criminal.

Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, said on Wednesday that a message had been passed on to Assange by former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, showed “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”

This story is being picked up quickly. We’ll update as more information becomes available.

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