Further aligning himself with Trump, despite the president’s unpopularity in Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) accused Democrats Friday of opposing Republican policies based on “revenge” instead of what’s good for the country.
Gardner: “This is nothing more than a revenge majority,” Gardner said on Fox News’ ‘Fox and Friends’ Friday. “They want to fight against a president that they believe never should have been elected in the first place, and so the policies that they are pursuing are all going to be based on revenge: investigations, cutting border security, doing everything they can to provide that revenge.”
Gardner’s comment came as Trump has vowed to shut down the government to try to force Congress to fund a border wall.
Gardner accused Democrats of wanting to cut border funds and having “no border-security plan.”
“It’s based on a revenge majority that they just elected to the House,” said Gardner.
Colorado Democrats are widely expected to pass gun-safety legislation next year.
But the Democrats’ legislative majority isn’t stopping pro-gun groups from preparing to fight.
A pro-gun group called Moms Demand Automatics is trying to get attention by organizing a counter-protest during Denver’s Jan. 19 Women’s March, according to the group’s Facebook page, which includes likes from Republican State House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock. About 100 people are interested or going to the rally, like former Republican House candidate Grady Nouis.
Another pro-gun gun entity, Rally for Our Rights, is raising money for billboards in Colorado and planning workshops on the legislative process.
One of Rally for Our Rights’ three proposed billboards calls it hypocrisy to support women’s rights and also to advocate for gun-safety legislation. The billboard would state:
Politicians Who Claim to Support Women’s Rights Want to Take Away A Woman’s Right To Defend Herself with a Firearm. Why? RallyforOurRights.com
The group wants the billboards as part of a campaign to fight expected gun-control legislation.
“Colorado is going to be ground zero for gun control legislation after Democrats swept all three branches of state government on election day,” state’s the group’s GoFundMe page, which indicates that about $1,000 has been raised toward a $15,000 goal.
In addition to the billboard campaign, Rally for Our Rights plans to hold three free activist workshops in Colorado, including one at the offices of the Independence Institute, a libertarian entity most often aligned with Republicans. The workshops, which will be scheduled later, are titled, “How to Be a Better Second Amendment Activist.”
The training includes information on the legislative and the electoral processes, as well as a “quick overview of the recall process.”
Rally for Our Rights is being promoted by longtime Tea Party activist Lesley Hollywood, who founded the group but did not respond to requests for comment. Hollywood recently appeared on NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch’s “NRATV” program.
You might think that, for the GOP, hanging a portrait of Trump at the Colorado Capitol, amid inevitable protests and hype, is like begging for another blue Tsunami, even though Colorado Republicans were just flattened then drowned by one, perhaps indefinitely.
But Republican leaders are nevertheless pushing ahead with their plan to erect the Trump portrait by Jan. 4, when the legislature convenes again.
GOP leaders are saying, and it’s true, that Trump is our president, and it’s a tradition to place presidential portraits in our Capitol rotunda.
Trump’s likeness would hang next to paintings of former Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Bush. Like most Coloradans, none of those former presidents likes Trump very much at all, but so what? In America, we respect the office of the president.
Fair enough, and there’s bipartisan support for this. When Republicans were raising money to pay for the Trump portrait last year, some Democrats pitched in, as part of the $10,000 GoFundMe effort. State Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) and former state lawmaker Dorothy Butcher (D-Pueblo) donated, according to Republican organizers.
“Every President – regardless of their political party – deserves a portrait in the Colorado State Capitol,” said outgoing State Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City) in August news release, calling Trump a “populist” whom many Coloradans support and adding that he can’t wait to see “another beautiful piece of art” in the rotunda.
But just how “beautiful” would it actually be to have Trump staring at you from a Capitol wall?
Already, it’s become passé to say that Trump weakens or undermines our country’s basic institutions and intellectualism, like the judiciary, the press, our voting system, our scientists, law enforcement, our Bill of Rights, and much more.
GARDNER: ““Well, I would be careful of what the CIA is being accused of saying. And I think that was clear in a briefing yesterday.I can’t get into the details of it, but I would just be very careful about what the CIA does and doesn’t believe.”
A CIA briefing on Tuesday left senators raging at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Sen. Bob Corker declaring a jury would find him “guilty” of murdering journalist Jamal Kashoggi and Sen. Lindsey Graham asserting the Trump administration must be “willfully blind” not to hold MBS, as he his known, accountable for the killing of Khashoggi.
The unbridled anger toward MBS after a meeting between top Senate leaders and CIA Director Gina Haspel suggests that the chamber will move swiftly to punish the Saudi regime in the coming days. Republican senators in particularly were biting in their assessments of both MBS and the Trump administration, which has declined to assert that the Saudi prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in October.
Corker (R-Tenn.), the Senate Foreign Relations chairman, said that there is “zero question that the crown prince directed the murder.”
It’s not known if Gardner attended the CIA briefing, and his office didn’t issue a comment on the CIA’s Khashoggi briefing.
It appears that Gardner and Trump are the only prominent Washington politicians who are skeptical of the reported CIA conclusion.
Gardner won’t return calls from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking to know why he doubts the CIA’s conclusion.
Gardner was commenting on other matters today. Shortly after Corker and Graham made their comments, Gardner tweeted:
“I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation w/ @SenDougJones to ensure student veterans receive every penny they’re owed,” tweeted Gardner. “The @DeptVetAffairs made a mistake and didn’t pay student veterans the money they’re entitled to for the semester, it’s unacceptable and must be fixed immediately.”
Another tweet addressed the boy from the northern Colorado town of Severence, who led a campaign to legalize snowball fights, which had been banned.
Gardner: “All it takes is one person with a dream (and some snow) to make something happen. To the people of Severance CO, enjoy your town’s first ~legal~ snowball fight!”
CIA Director Gina Haspel will brief U.S. Senate “committee leaders” Tuesday, likely giving U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) the chance to confirm his doubts about the CIA’s reported conclusion that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about the plot to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Well, I would be careful of what the CIA is being accused of saying,” Gardner told KDMT radio host Jimmy Sengenberger Nov. 29. “And I think that was clear in a briefing yesterday. I can’t get into the details of it, but I would just be very careful about what the CIA does and doesn’t believe.”
Gardner’s comment turned heads because it reflected Trump’s stance on the Khashoggi murder, apparently making Gardner and Trump the only prominent Washington politicians who are skeptical of the reported conclusion of the CIA.
Even Secretary of State James Mattis, who said there was “no smoking gun” connecting the prince to the murder, refused to cast doubt directly on the CIA’s reported conclusion.
The spy chief will meet with top leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a source familiar with the matter. The meeting comes ahead of a scheduled vote on whether the Senate will vote to pull support for the civil war in Yemen.
The number of attendees at the briefing could grow given the concern among both parties about Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey earlier this year. [emphasis added]
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week failed to address concerns by senators, who demanded Haspel appear on Capitol Hill. The Senate then voted to advance the measure curtailing U.S. support for Saudi forces in Yemen, setting up critical procedural votes that could occur later this week or early next.
Apparently referring to information he received during a classified senate briefing, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is directly questioning the CIA’s widely reported conclusion that Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about the plot to kill journalist journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Well, I would be careful of what the CIA is being accused of saying,” Gardner told KDMT radio host Jimmy Sengenberger this morning. “And I think that was clear in a briefing yesterday. I can’t get into the details of it, but I would just be very careful about what the CIA does and doesn’t believe.”
Even Secretary of State James Mattis refused to deny that the CIA has a high level of confidence that bin Salman knew about the Khashoggi murder, as CNN reported this morning:
Speaking to reporters after the briefing, Pompeo said there is “no direct reporting” connecting the crown prince to the murder of Khashoggi.
Mattis echoed that point telling reporters “we have no smoking gun that the crown prince was involved” in the killing. Mattis said he read all the intelligence reports and transcripts himself.
But when he was asked if it was true the CIA expressed high confidence, Mattis would only say, “there you need to go to the CIA.” [emphasis added by the Colorado Times Recorder]
Neither Mattis nor Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doubted the CIA directly in public comments Wednesday, so yesterday’s classified briefing was apparently the source for Gardner’s “clear” information about the uncertainty of the CIA’s Khashoggi conclusion.
The CIA did not testify at yesterday’s hearing, and Gardner told Politico that CIA testimony would have been “helpful.” But that didn’t stop Gardner from casting doubt on the CIA’s reported conclusion.
It appears that Gardner and Trump are the only prominent Washington politicians who are skeptical of the reported CIA conclusion.
In a recent Colorado Public Radio interview, host Ryan Warner told Gov. John Hickenlooper that Jeff Hays, Colorado’s Republican Party leader, likened Democrats to pigs who will over-indulge (pass unpopular legislation) and then become fat hogs who will get slaughtered (thrown out of office by voters).
Warner quoted Hays as saying: “There’s a phrase: ‘Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.'”
Hick’s response, “Wait, is he portraying himself as a pig or as a hog?”
It’s the perfect counterpoint to Hays’ accusation of overreach, because it trains the spotlight on the fact that it’s the Republicans who’ve been overreaching by obstructing government and fattening up their donors in the process with tax policies and Grinch-like programs that favor the rich.
The progressive agenda, supported by voters, is exemplified by efforts to pass reasonable gun safety legislation like a red flag bill, shoring up K-12 education funding, expanding health insurance coverage to all, addressing student debt while reducing higher education costs to consumers, fixing roads and bridges–all of which are issues that Ryan Warner touched on in his interview.
Republicans at the state and federal level have mostly blocked efforts to fund these things, first and foremost.
And then they’ve repeatedly killed proposed laws that address the problems with moderate fixes.
So, Hickenlooper, who usually holds back on the blazing attack lines, did the right thing by calling Hays a pig or a hog or both.
It’s the Republicans who’ve been fattening themselves up by overreaching on their anti-government agenda.
The chair of a large Trump-backing organization hopped on conservative KNUS radio yesterday and warned U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that he’d better put an even tighter embrace around Trump.
“I think he’d better start supporting the President’s issues when it comes to border security, and fighting against illegal immigration, and supporting the president on all of the important issues that the president got elected on, but specifically illegal immigration,” said former Colorado Springs lawmaker Ted Harvey, who chairs the Committee to Defend the President.
I left a phone message for Harvey asking why he’s critical of Gardner, given Gardner’s 91 percent pro-Trump voting record, including Gardner’s major votes for three Trump-backed bills to kill Obamacare and his vote for the Trump tax bill.
“Okay, [Gardner] voted for, and was a day in, day out defender of the tax cuts,” Wadhams said recently on KNUS. “He has been a defender of deregulation. He’s been the defender of Trump’s foreign policy. So, tell me, where has Cory fallen down, as U. S. Senator for Trump?”
Commenting on this month’s election, Harvey said on KNUS that Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton had “no campaign” because he didn’t “run on any of the major issues that mobilize grassroots conservatives to get out and work their butts off to win an election.”
Neither the recent election results nor Trump’s ongoing controversies have prompted Colorado Republicans to reconsider their plan to place a portrait of Trump in Colorado’s Capitol rotunda.
The Denver Post’s Anna Staver reported last week that Republican State Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City hopes the portrait will be on a Capitol wall with other presidential portraits before the 2019 legislative session starts Jan. 4.
The Republicans’ state senate spokesman Sean Paige did not return a call yesterday seeking to find out if any Republican lawmakers had expressed qualms about hanging the portrait in light of the recent election–as well as the escalating controversies involving the president, including special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Also unanswered is the question, have Republicans considered delaying the Trump portrait-project until the Mueller investigation is complete?
Asked if Republicans are obliged to hang the Trump portrait, or if it’s just a tradition, Jay Sellers, Director of Arts for Colorado, told the Colorado Times Recorder back in July that he was not aware of “any law that requires us to hang a president’s portrait in the Capitol.”
“I believe, quite frankly, that the president had a strategy of focusing on the Senate at the expense of the House,” [Coffman] said. “That the map had it where that there were red states that Trump carried that had competitive Senate races and what he did was made the midterm a national election and about him….”
“The president’s tone is polarizing,” Coffman said. “It was very difficult to try and make the case, particularly to suburban, college-educated women who were so upset with the president, to vote for me when they felt there needed to be a greater check on President Trump…”
Coffman says he doesn’t see Republicans regaining any territory in the House.
“Good. Luck,” he said, laughing.
Contrast Coffman’s dark view of Trump with Gardner’s sunbeam comments about the president working his tail off for winning GOP senate candidates:
“We bucked history,” Gardner said on KNUS’ Caplis and Kafer Show last week, repeating his previous assertion that “I don’t think it was a blue wave” in Colorado. “…So, you know, the keeping of the majority in the midterm, I think, is historic. And President Trump went out and worked his tail off in a lot of these states.
“And so I think those are the two key takeaways, how President Trump did more than I think any other president has done for elections and getting these candidates elected, and how we were able to defy history….”
“So, look, I look forward to continuing our work together.” Gardner told Steffan Tubbs on KNUS yesterday, referring to Trump. “And I’d like to see the President come to Colorado. I’d like to see my colleagues want to see him be successful. Let’s talk about the good things we’ve done in Colorado. Let’s show him the good things we’ve done in Colorado. I hope that everybody is engaged in wanting us to have a successful president.
The Coffman-Gardner contrast on Trump underscores again that Republicans have nowhere to turn, with Trump’s unhinged media presence so overwhelming and his popularity so low among so many different types of voters in states like Colorado.
Embrace him? Trash him? Do both? None of those approaches will win over enough voters for a GOP candidate to compete in Colorado, at least as things stand today, based on what happened last Tuesday.
One reason political analysts think the waters of the blue wave won’t be leaving Colorado anytime soon is the absence of a Republican candidate who appears to be able to win.
Bronco legend John Elway has been thought of as such a candidate in the past, even though he’s apparently never really wanted to run.
And, even if he did, he appears to be on a deep losing streak, presiding over both a losing football team and endorsing failed GOP candidates.
John Elway and Beth Martinez Humenik
His favorite candidates appear to have included State Sen.Tim Neville (R-Littleton), who lost to Democrat Tammy Story; GOP businesswomen Christine Jensen, who lost to State Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge); and State Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik (R-Thornton), who was defeated by Democratic State Rep. Faith Winter, of Adams County.
Apparently trying to jump to an early lead, the Superbowl quarterback gave $10,000 in August to Better Colorado Now, which spent heavily on behalf Walker Stapleton, who was blown out by Democrat Jared Polis by over 10 percentage points. Whether that entity was playing by the rules when Stapleton helped collect early donations has been questioned.
In a volcanic eruption and tsunami on KNUS radio Monday, Colorado’s former Republican leader defended U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner from accusations that the first-term senator is a “total [whore] for the Chamber of Commerce,” a “Mitch McConnell stooge,” and, “just like” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a “traitor to every [position] he held in 2010.”
“[Gardner] has been a chamber guy from day one, and he runs with Mitch McConnell,” shouted Chuck Bonniwell, a Republican talk radio host who’s also the publisher of the Cherry Creek/Glendale Chronicle.
“[Gardner] voted for, and was a day-in-day-out defender of the tax cuts,” responded Wadhams. “He has been a defender of deregulation. He’s been the defender of Trump’s foreign policy. So, tell me, where has Cory fallen down, as U. S. Senator for Trump?”
Wadhams continued to criticize Trump and try to convince Bonniwell that Gardner, while imperfect, is a good Republican who deserves GOP support.
WADHAMS: I’ve got to tell you, I am frankly tired of people crapping on Cory Gardner, because–
BONNIWELL: Of course you are! Because he deserves it!
WADHAMS: No, he doesn’t. He doesn’t.
BONNIWELL: And the truth hurts! The truth hurts.
WADHAMS: Is he a perfect perfect Senator? No. But you know what? He has been there time after time.
Wadhams tried to make the case that Republicans won’t find a better candidate than Gardner.
WADHAMS: Is there any other Republican who can win a general election in 2020 — other than Cory Gardner — for the United States Senate? [It’s a] very specific question. Answer it!
BONNIWELL: Is anybody going to have the money he’s going to have from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?
WADHAMS: I ask again, do you think–?
BONNIWELL: If you give him the money — if you give somebody good the money of Cory Gardner–.
WADHAMS: And who is ‘somebody good?’ I mean, let me hear this wonderful candidate.
Conservative Republicans are already talking about trying to knock U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner out of Colorado’s 2020 senate race, with one local talk-radio host floating the name of State House Minority Leader Patrick Neville as a “great choice” to take on Gardner.
Neville didn’t return a call seeking to know if he’d challenge Gardner or if he knew about KNUS host Chuck Bonniwell’s suggestion that he run.
Whether it’s Neville or another Republican, David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies told a libertarian radio host last month that he thinks there “very well may be a primary” challenge to Gardner.
Asked for details, Flaherty said today, “With the sting of the defeat, there is a wide array of opinions and viewpoints on where to go from here. Obviously, some of those are going to be arch conservatives, if you will. And they have their voice and their opinion, just like you and I.”
“We’ll see what spirited conservative Republicans may emerge. I don’t know of anything in particular,” Flaherty told the Colorado Times Recorder, adding that he personally backs Gardner and the chances are “minuscule” that a primary challenge to Gardner would succeed.
“Cory is going to have $50 million at his fingertips after coming off his job at the NRSC,” said Flaherty. “And he’s going to have plenty of money to do whatever he needs to, if there is challenge in the primary.”
Asked by Wadhams to name a person who would be a better candidate than Gardner, Bonniwell screamed, “Pick out a Neville! Patrick Neville!”
“Patrick Neville?” responded Wadhams. “Are you starting the Patrick Neville draft program?”
“Yeah,” said Bonniwell. “He’d be great…. Tim [Neville] has lots of time on his hands. He’s also a great conservative.”
Wadhams adamantly said no Republican will have a better chance in 2020 than Gardner.
“Start the primary process for Cory Gardner NOW.”
Writing on the Arapahoe Tea Party Facebook page, Republican gadfly Marc Zarlengo also tried to fire up anti-Gardner minions with a call to replace Gardner.
“Does GOP want to keep the US Senate seat?” wrote Zarlengo. “Start the primary process for Cory Gardner NOW. Get the most Conservative candidate who will appeal to the base and defeat Gardner. Otherwise we will have Senator Hickenlooper.”
Former Chair of the El Paso County GOP, Eli Bremer, wrote that Zarlengo’s comment was “ridiculous.”
Eli Bremer: The only word I can come up with for this is ridiculous. Gardner is the only Republican who has demonstrated he can win. He has Trumps support and will campaign with him in two years. We can not afford to lose our majority in the Senate which would completely derail the outstanding work of placing originalist judges in courts.
Republicans lost because unaffiliated suburban women hated us in the election. That’s shown clearly in the data. It was literally in every district in the state. We need to find a way to talk to these voters and figure out what our shared values with them are rather than infighting and primarying the only Republican left statewide.
Marc Zarlengo: “Uhh…Walker Stapleton and Wayne Williams won state wide election too, and they just got their asses handed to them. So I guess that theory is already out the door.”
Bremer, then wrote:
Eli Bremer: They were down ticket to Cory’s up ticket race. The data were clear: unaffiliated suburban women moved strongly against Republicans in Colorado. That is fact and not opinion. If we want to win, we have to deal with reality and not fantasy.
Will Republicans Switch Registration and Vote in Democratic Primary?
Flaherty is so convinced that Gardner will be the choice of Republicans in 2020 that he said on the radio he’d register as an Unaffiliated voter to manipulate the Democrats’ efforts in 2020.
“I wouldn’t affiliate with the Unaffiliated Party because I no longer want to be associated with the Republican Party or anything like that,” said Flaherty today.
“I would switch to Unaffiliated because I’d rather play around with the Democrats, because there are going to be so many of them. I very well might become unaffiliated just to vote in the Democrat presidential primary. And perhaps the [Democratic] primary for the senate too, because I expect that to be pretty spirited.”
How many Republicans might do this?
Flaherty took the January 2017 voter file and compared it to the the Oct. 2018 voter file and found that 100,000 voters switched and became Unaffiliated from a prior party. Turns out, it was about 50,000 Democrats and 50,000 Republicans, he said.
“I wouldn’t expect it to be overwhelming but who knows? I’m sure there are going to be other Republican voters like myself who say, ‘You know what, there isn’t going to be any action on our side. I may want to weigh in on the Dem primary because it’s going to have all the attention. You know what I mean, why not.”
“If I really felt my vote was needed for Cory, that would factor into my decision, although I think the odds of that are just minuscule.
“Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing that Dem primary,” said Flaherty, insisting that Gardner can defeat some Democratic candidates. “The bottom line is, the candidate makes a difference.”
Listen to Flaherty on KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky Show March 31 here:
When asked what should happen to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible coordination between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, Gardner said it should “absolutely continue,” adding that “the president has said he wants it to continue.”
But Gardner was less certain about whether he’d support a bill to protect the investigation, which his outgoing colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, says he will try to pass before leaving office.
Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, was clear about his position [in favor of protecting Mueller] on Twitter.
Gardner has repeatedly said he’s undecided before voting on controversial legislation. Most notably, he said he was undecided until the last minute on three variations of bills to kill Obamacare, before voting for each one of them.
A move by Gardner to protect Mueller would be seen as hostile to Trump, who will likely be on the 2020 election ballot with Gardner. With Colorado split among Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters, Gardner can’t afford to turn off many GOP voters, who largely approve of Trump, and hope to win here.
A coalition of groups, organized under the name TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw, will rally at 5 p.m. today on the west steps of the state Capitol to protest Trump’s decision to place an ally of the president in charge of the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Speakers will include U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), U.S. Rep.-elect Jason Crow (D-CO), State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton), and Colorado Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, also a Democrat
After Tuesday’s election, Trump fired his attorney general Jeff Sessions, inserting Trump ally Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general and putting him in charge of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia investigation.
The message of the rally: a demand that Whitaker recuse himself in light of alleged conflicts of interest and previous statements attacking the investigation.
Similar rallies will take place across the country.
Other speakers include: Dr Reverend Timothy Tyler of Shorter Community AME Church, Nathan Woodliff-Stanley of ACLU Colorado, Nancy Leong of Lawyers for Good Government, and , and Caroline Fry of Common Cause.