Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

Conservative talk-show hosts frustrated that Coffman isn’t talking to them

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Journalists should let us know more often when politicians are ducking them.  Or when they only talk through spokespeople.

After a week or two goes by, and a public official still refuses to talk, reporters should tweet it, if nothing else.

On March 28, KNUS radio’s Steve Kelley and co-host Bill Rogan chose to talk openly about their difficulties landing Rep. Mike Coffman and Rep. Cory Gardner.

Kelley: Congressman Coffman and Gardner are not talking, apparently.

Rogan: Ducking us. And I don’t like that.

Kelley: Well, that’s what it feels like at this point. So we’ll give them one more day, and then look, the clubs are coming out.

Rogan: They’ll come on Saturday, and we’ll do a special edition of Kelley and Company, just to accommodate Coffman and Gardner.

Kelley: See, I don’t know.

Rogan: I’m not too happy with these two.

Kelley: At this point, I’m not either. We can say that. It’s a free country.

Strongly anti abortion, Kelley told me last week he’d been trying to reach both politicians since they flipped on personhood.

Gardner finally appeared on Kelley’s conservative talk show, “Kelley and Company,” last week. It turned out that Gardner had changed cell phones, and he shuffled press contacts, so it was all a misunderstanding, Kelley said on air.

Coffman, however, is still not returning calls from Kelley’s producer, Kelley said, noting that Rep. Diana  DeGette and Sen. Mark Udall don’t return his calls either.

But Coffman’s lack of response surprises Kelley, who sees his conservative KNUS show as a friendly audience for Coffman, even if he asks a challenging question on occasion, Kelley told me.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/radio-host-frustrated-that-mike-coffman-wont-return-his-calls

How should a raped woman get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Eli Stokols reports that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is defending his co-sponsorship of a 2007 bill that would have banned doctors from performing an abortion for rape and incest.

Stokols reports:

When he was a state lawmaker, Gardner signed onto Senate Bill 143 as a co-sponsor — he did not carry the bill himself, his campaign points out.

The measure would have outlawed all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”

Gardner’s campaign pushes back: “the bill only prohibited the performing of an abortion (with an exception for life of the mother). It specifically exempted women from prosecution: ‘A pregnant mother upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted shall not be guilty of violating this section’.”

Stokols did not tell us how Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Garnder’s push back is correct. His bill did not make it a felony for women to get back-alley abortions. But a doctor would face felony charges.

So Stokols or another reporter should find out where Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion–and from whom?

In assuring radio host he’s still “pro-life,” Gardner says his record “speaks for itself.” But what is it?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

On conservative KNUS radio last week, GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner assured listeners that he remains “pro-life” even though he recently un-endorsed the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion in Colorado.

“I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress,” Gardner told KNUS radio host Steve Kelley.

If his record speaks for itself, does Gardner stand behind it?  Because left out of the radio conversation was the annoying fact that Gardner’s legislative record in Congress includes his endorsement of federal personhood legislation, which he has yet to un-endorse. His name is still right there, having joined as a co-sponsor in July of last year.

Gardner also told Kelley:

“If you look at my record, it is a pro-life record. And that will always be on my record, and continue to be a part of it. So, I think that that is something that we have not been trying to turn away from.” [Bigmedia emphasis]

Gardner’s “pro-life” record, which (in case you missed it) he says “will always be on my record,” also includes co-sponsorship of bills in Congress aiming to de-fund Planned Parenthood and to re-define “rape” to include only the “forcible” kind. (Gardner later said his effort to redefine rape was a misunderstanding.)

His “always-on-my-record” record at the state legislature includes sponsorship of legislation banning all abortion, even for rape and incest, as well as other anti-abortion bills, like one mandating ultrasounds prior to abortion. These have yet to be un-endorsed.

Gardner’s response to Kelley, touting his anti-abortion credentials to receptive ears, sounds like Gardner’s statement at a Tea Party forum in 2009, when he was running for Congress for the first time.

Gardner was asked if he’d carry legislation banning abortion, and he replied, “Yes. And I have a legislative background to back it up.”

Gardner later told journalists he would not carry anti-abortion legislation in Congress. Then he did it.

 Partial transcript of appearance of Rep. Cory Gardner on KNUS’ Steve Kelley Show, April 16, 2014.

KELLEY: .. Are you pro-choice? Are you pro-life?

GARDNER: Well, if you look at my record, it is a pro-life record. And that will always be on my record, and continue to be a part of it. So, I think that that is something that we have not been trying to turn away from.

KELLEY: So, no ambiguity, you’re still pro-life, but — and your votes support that. But as senator, will you continue in that vein?

GARDNER: Well, again, I’m not – I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress.

KELLEY: So, does the Personhood Amendment, –and again, just to refresh folks’ memories, there was a change, not only you but Congressman Coffman, as well. What was the turning point? When you looked at it for what we’ll be voting on. What changed your mind?

GARDNER: Well, if you look at the number of people who do not support Personhood, I think it might even come as a surprise to many people who aren’t as studied on the issue as we have become, but groups like National Right to Life, groups like the Eagle Forum have raised serious questions if not outright opposing, uh, the effort. L0ok, I think there are things we can agree on, things we can disagree on. But the bottom line is, how do we find those common areas where we can agree and, and, actually make policy — good policy choices that we can all work together on.

KELLEY: It’s been suggested that that would be political – not political suicide, but it is a strategically wise move. Because it’s much different being a senator than a congressman, and that you’ve got to appeal to wider swath of people, here. Was it strategic?

GARDNER: Well, again, I think if you, if you – people who have brought that question up, we brought it up before the Republican assembly. So, clearly we wanted to make sure that we were true to our record and true about our record, and not letting the, the opposition – Mark Udall, in this case – destroy my record.

Reporting by multiple outlets casts doubts on Gardner’s campaign-origin story

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Political campaigns love to develop a narrative and connect it to everything they say and do. But sometimes they overdo it, and the campaign narrative suddenly looks cramped.

Thanks to reporting by multiple media outlets, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s all-consuming Obamacare narrative is already smelling overdone and forced. It’s not just because Obamacare appears to be working.

Take, for example, Gardner’s foundational story about deciding to enter the Senate race.

Gardner: I thought about reconsidering running for the U.S. Senate, but it really picked up last year when we received our healthcare cancellation notice.

If that’s true, and Gardner has said this numerous times, then Gardner’s thoughts about entering the race “really picked up” in August, six months before he told The Denver Post in February that he was launching his Senate campaign against Udall.

So Gardner left his Republican opponents floundering for six months, even though he had publicly announced June 28, three months earlier, that he would not run against Udall in part because he wanted to get out of the way of his opponents who were “making their decisions” about running.

More doubts about Gardner’s foundational Obamacare campaign-origin story surfaced when Politico reported that Gardner decided to enter the race after seeing the results of a poll conducted by Republicans in Washington DC.

That was January, about five months after Gardner got his letter outlining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

January was also the time period when Gardner stepped up his attacks on Udall, as if his campaign against Udall was suddenly in motion. Gardner sent a Jan. 9 letter from his congressional office to the Colorado Division of Insurance asking questions about it’s interactions with Udall’s office. In mid-January, Gardner asked his own congressional committee to investigate. Gardner’s a member of the Commerce committee. And Then the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which, according to Politico, conducted the poll convincing Gardner to run for Senate, sent a Jan. 17 letter to Udall, with more questions.

This timeline, casting serious doubts on Gardner’s story that his Obamacare letter pushed him into the race, was constructed with the record produced by journalists covering Gardner, day-to-day, month-to-month. It’s a small testament to why political reporting is important and how it creates a picture of a candidate for us to contrast with the messaging of his campaign.

Radio-hosts should have pointed out that Gardner’s abortion position is more like Buck’s than Schaffer’s

Monday, April 7th, 2014

In a blog post Friday, I tipped my hat to a Greeley talk-radio show for being the first media outlet to report that Cory Gardner’s new position on abortion, in the wake of his un-endorsement of the personhood amendment, aligns with dogmatic religious views against abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

But KFKA hosts Tom Lucero and Devon Lentz let me down by not questioning Gardner when he told them he holds the same position on abortion as “many pro-lifers in Colorado, including Congressman Bob Schaffer.”

But Bob Schaffer never endorsed the personhood initiative at all, much less collected signatures for it. Personhood leaders would never have called Schaffer one of their “main supporters.”

In Congress, Schaffer never co-sponsored federal personhood legislation, which would have banned all abortion, even for rape and incest, like Gardner did less than a year ago.

You can bet Schaffer never sent a constituent a letter saying, “Throughout my life, I’ve been committed to protecting human life, beginning at conception.” Gardner wrote this just last month.

So, actually, Gardner’s abortion position is significantly to the right of Schaffer’s, which obviously carries serious political baggage for Gardner, as Lucero and Lentz should have pointed out.

On abortion policy and politics, Gardner is much more like Ken Buck. Afrwe being an enthusiastic supporter of the personhood amendment, Buck un-endorsed the measure in much the same way Gardner did,  saying he still supported it “as a concept” but he hadn’t fully understand it. Gardner, you recall, said the personhood initiative was motivated by “good intentions.”

Buck’s flip did nothing to stop him from, arguably, losing the election due to his position on women’s issues. Schaffer would neither have been as vulnerable as Buck was nor as vulnerable as Gardner remains.

These are the issues that should be raised, if Gardner continues to downplay his personhood flip flop by comparing himself to Schaffer.

Talk-radio scoop: Gardner says his abortion position is same as Archbishop Chaput

Friday, April 4th, 2014

When Rep. Cory Gardner dumped his longstanding support of the Personhood amendment two weeks ago, reporters failed to tell us about Gardner’s new position on abortion.

It turns out, Gardner now holds the same abortion stance as Archbishop Charles Chaput, who left Denver for a Vatican post in Philadelphia in 2011.

That’s what Gardner told KFKA (Greeley) talk-show hosts Tom Lucero and Devon Lentz March 27. They get the intrepid-talk-show-host prize for being the first to ask Gardner the logical follow up to his March 21 bombshell about ditching personhood:

LUCERO:  So, Cory, has your position on life changed, or just your position on – with regards to the Personhood initiative?

GARDNER:  Yeah.  I mean, if you look at my record, it still is a pro-life record.  And many pro-lifers in Colorado, including Congressman Bob Schaffer, the Archbishop Chaput of the Catholic Diocese, hold the same position.

LENTZ:  So, it’s really, it’s more along the lines, if I’m understanding correctly, on what contraception is available for women, not – not abortion — for being abortion– it’s just more having the choice of birth control itself.

GARDNER:  Well, that’s one of the consequences that we looked at in terms of contraception, but this issue [personhood] is, I think, a settled issue in Colorado and something that pro-lifers – you know, like I respect peoples’ difference of opinion on this, and I think there are a lot of differences of opinions on this, but I happen to agree that, with the things that I have learned, that I did something that was the right position to take.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/gardner-says-his-abortion

So what does this tell us about Gardner’s newly minted abortion views?

The Vatican, along with Catholic Bishops, like Chaput, support the personhood concept, with life beginning at conception. They oppose all abortion, even for rape and incest.

But, as Gardner said, Chaput did not back the personhood amendment. I couldn’t find Chaput’s specific explanation for his opposition to the personhood initiative.

A decade ago, Chaput himself wrote, in describing church teachings, that Roe v. Wade is a “poorly reasoned mistake” and “abortion is wrong in all cases, even rape and incest.” (News Release, “CFJ: Many See the Anti-Religious Implications of Dem Questions on Pryor,” July 3, 2003″).

Vatican watchers will undoubtedly recall that Chaput directed Catholics to vote according to their faith, and he called abortion a “foundational issue” that’s not open to debate.

On his “AM Colorado” show last week, Lucero also asked Gardner for “a little more insight” into his decision to abandon personhood:

LUCERO: You got a little bit of heat this last week in an interview you had with The Denver Post. Give our listeners a little more insight into what you were trying to tell them over at The Denver Post. 

GARDNER:  Well, you know, if you look at my position as a pro-life member of Congress, if you look what we did four years ago during the 2009, 2010 run up to the election [inaudible] the number of initiatives on the ballot, I had stated then that I supported an initiative known as the Personhood initiative.  But since that time, I have done a lot of work, done a lot of studying, and learned that that is actually something that many pro-lifers agree, could ban contraception and is a step back for the pro-life effort.  And I believe the voters of Colorado have spoken –that they said ‘no’ to this on multiple occasions, and we ought to be working together on common goals that we can achieve, instead of fighting over a separate issue.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/rep-cory-gardner-explains-why

Interestingly, in August, before Gardner flipped on personhood, former CO Republican Chair Dick Wadhams cited Chaput as a model for a GOP candidate–as someone who is both “pro-life” but anti-personhood amendment. Wadhams said at the time that a pro-life candidate who embraces the personhood amendment can’t win in a statewide election.

Politico scoop: Gardner promised to help pay off Stephens’ campaign debt, if she’d exit

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

At least three people in Colorado have been dying to know how Rep. Cory Gardner managed to persuade Ken Buck and Rep. Amy Stephens to drop their Senate campaigns, allowing Gardner to jump in with a clear field (assuming you don’t count Owen Hill and Randy Baumgardner).

Politico’s Manu Raju deserves credit for scooping Colorado media today by posting some of the details on how Gardner maneuvered to get in, including the tidbit that Gardner promised to help pay off Stephens’ campaign debt.

In January, Gardner first had second thoughts about his previous decision not to run, according to Politico. This is inconsistent with his oft-repeated story about beginning to have second thoughts in August, when Gardner got a letter from his insurance company explaining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

In any case, in January, after he told Republicans in Washington DC of his renewed interest in the race, they ran a poll, the results of which prompted Gardner to jump in, if he could avoid a bitter primary, according to Politico.

Here’s what happened next:

He first approached his biggest roadblock: Buck. The Weld County district attorney had battled with the NRSC in 201o. But the two sides had smoothed things over during the past year, and Buck had a friendly relationship with Gardner.

At a meeting with Buck at a Cracker Barrel just north of Denver, Gardner dropped the bombshell: He was seriously thinking about jumping in the race, and he did not want to battle Buck in a bruising primary. For days after that meeting, Buck mulled his options before encouraging Gardner to take the plunge, nodding to the congressman’s stronger polling and fundraising numbers. Buck even entertained sitting out the midterm election season altogether if it would help Gardner in the primary.

Instead, Buck opted to run in a contested primary for Gardner’s House seat. He called up the congressman and asked for an endorsement for his House seat, something Buck said Gardner was “enthusiastic” in offering. The two denied any quid pro quo.

I read the last two paragraphs a couple times, including the denial of a quid pro quo, and it still looks like a quid pro quo, but you can decide for yourself.

But there’s no ambiguity in Politico’s story of how Stephens dropped out after Gardner offered to pay off her campaign debt.

The political horse-trading wasn’t over. Stephens, who was working aggressively to get volunteers to sign her petition in order to register for the primary ballot, was on her way to a women’s fundraiser in Denver when Gardner called and asked to meet with her right away. The two met that evening at a local restaurant. Gardner said he was considering jumping into the race, and asked her if she’d help clear the field. But she had campaign debt to pay off, which Gardner said he’d help settle. The next day, Stephens called up Gardner and told her she was out of the race.

Politico gets high marks for dropping into Colorado and figuring all this out. Nice work.

Journalists deserve credit for documenting Gardner’s previous broken promises to modify abortion position

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Before being elected to Congress four years ago, Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s now running for Senate against Democrat Mark Udall, backed off campaign promises to ban abortion, much like he did agai Frniday when he un-endorsed the personhood amendment.

But, as documented by the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, Gardner subsequently broke his promises and co-sponsored multiple anti-abortion bills, including legislation banning abortion outright. Gardner’s history raises the question of whether Gardner’s latest twist of his abortion stance can be trusted.

In 2010, just after winning the GOP primary to run against Rep. Betsy Markey, Gardner promised journalists at the Ft. Collins Coloradoan that he wouldn’t introduce anti-abortion legislation, despite promising to do so at a campaign event.

The Coloradoan posted audio of a meeting between Gardner and Coloradoan editors in 2010:

Coloradoan Editorial Page Editor Kathleen Duff: You say you’re not running on social issues, so you’re not, for instance, planning any legislation.

Gardner: Correct.

Duff: And you haven’t crafted anything.

Gardner: [laughs] Correct. No. No.

Coloradoan Executive Editor Bob Moore: Although I’ve been at Tea Party events where you were at where you were specifically asked if you would introduce legislation on abortion, and you did say yes.

Gardner: Bob, I don’t recall that.

Moore: Yeah. At one, you even mentioned some legislation you had already introduced in the state legislature, too.

Gardner: I don’t recall that.

Moore: I can go back and dig it out. [He did. He posted the audio here.]

Gardner: Be that as it may, I am running to balance the budget…

After this exchange, Moore called out Gardner on his flip flop, in an article headlined, “Despite tea party pledge, Gardner says he won’t carry abortion bill.”

And later, Moore called out Gardner again, after he went to Congress and broke his promise not to focus on social issues or introduce anti-abortion legislation.

Moore reported Feb. 4, 2011:

During the 2010 campaign, Gardner sought to downplay abortion and other social issues, though he readily described himself as pro-life.

In a September meeting with the Coloradoan editorial board, Gardner said he wouldn’t introduce any legislation on social issues.

“I am running to balance the budget, cut spending and get this economy back on track,” he said.

Since being sworn in a month ago, Gardner has co-sponsored two abortion-related bills – [Rep. Chis] Smith’s bill to further restrict federal funding for abortion, and a bill aimed at Planned Parenthood that would bar federal family planning grants to any organization that performs abortions.

Smith’s bill aimed to save money by no longer allowing federal dollars to be spent on regular old “rape” but only for “forcible rape.” After an outcry, the proposed redefinition of “rape” was dropped.

Unfortunately, Moore had already left the Coloradoan when Gardner went further, with his co-sponsorship of federal personhood legislation, called the “Life at Conception Act,” which would ban all abortion, even for rape.

So, to recap, Gardner had pledged at a Tea Party event in 2010 to introduce federal legislation to ban abortion, but before he did it, he promised he wouldn’t.

The Coloradoan’s documentation of Gardner’s multiple flips and flops on abortion issues shows how journalism serves to hold politicians accountable for what they say at different times to different audiences.

 

 

Post should have reported Gardner’s position, specifically, on abortion for rape and incest

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The Denver Post reported Friday that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner accused the Udall campaign of lying when Udall claimed Gardner opposes abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

The Post’s Lynn Bartels reported Friday:

Gardner said he stepped forward because Udall and his allies have spent the last three weeks “distorting my record.” Among the “lies,” he said: claiming that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

“Mark Udall wants to run a social issues campaign. He definitely wants to run as the social issues candidate,” Gardner said.

Bartels should have stated, specifically, that it was not a lie for Udall to point out that Gardner opposes abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. That’s been Gardner’s position–even when asked about it outside of the context of the personhood amendment.

Bob Moore of the Ft. Collins Coloradoan reported Sept. 26, 2010:

“I’ve been very up-front on it; I am pro-life,” Gardner, a state representative from Yuma, said in an interview with the Coloradoan.

When asked if he would allow exceptions for victims of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger, Gardner said, “I’m pro-life, and I believe abortion is wrong.”

Reporters should ask Gardner if he’s had a change of heart not just about the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion for rape, but about his opposition specifically to abortion-in-the-cases-of-rape and-incest.

Gardner told The Post that his flip on personhood was based on its restriction on forms of contraception, but he has yet to explain if he’s also reversed himself, specifically, on opposing abortion-for-rape-and-incest, and, if so, why.

Misleading attack ad spotlights facts about Obamacare, thanks to TV fact checker

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

UPDATE 3-21-14: Journalists at Politifact.com also evaluated this anti-Obamcare/anti-Udall ad and declared it “false.”
—–

Sometimes a misleading political ad has the unintended consequence of creating a backlash of truthful information that runs counter to unsupported claims in the ad.

That’s what’s resulted from the Americans for Prosperity advertisement claiming that “millions of people have lost their health insurance” thanks to Obamacare.

In a fact check of the ad last night, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman pointed out that “it’s true that millions of people with individual coverage got cancellation notices because their old plans didn’t meet the standards of Obamacare…. But getting one of these notices is not the same thing as losing insurance.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Rittiman explained:

By federal law, when they cancel a plan, insurance companies have to offer you an alternate plan if they want to stay in business.

Of course, some of those alternate plans were more expensive and that caused trouble for people.

But this ad is trying to make you believe that all those people just became uninsured, which is just not the case. [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s so “not-the-case” that reporters should set the record straight, in day-to-day reporting, when Obamacare opponents claim that Coloradans lost their insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act—or had it canceled.

Some journalists are already doing this, as you can see in Denver Post and Fox 31 coverage of the Americans for Prosperity ad, where reporters pointed out that renewals were offered to the vast majority of people whose policies were canceled, and new policies were offered to all. I confirmed these facts in a previous blog post.

But I like Rittiman’s simple statement that getting a cancellation notice did not mean you lost your insurance.

Thanks to Americans for Prosperity’s heavy-handed attack ad, and the corrections by journalists, maybe this simple fact will stick.

A more complicated fact that the AFP ad unwittingly clarifies is, as Rittiman put it, under Obamacare “people are by and large getting more in their [health insurance] plans, not less.”

The AFP ad claims the opposite, that “millions are paying more and getting less.”

But Rittiman’s fact check points out:

Even opponents of the law argue that point, saying people may not want their plans to have all the new mandatory features: like getting rid of lifetime caps, covering prescription drugs, and preventive care.

What’s true is that people are paying more.

Overall, healthcare costs are still going up for people year over year, though less quickly. It’s also worth noting that some people are paying less, because of subsidies in the healthcare law.

It looks like one of the best ways Obamacare supporters can get the truth out about the healthcare law is for AFP to air an ad for reporters to fact check. (If only the fact-check story was promoted with a million dollars of advertising time, like the AFP ad was.)