Aspen Public Radio, Cory Gardner, August 12, 2014

Station:   KAJX, 91.5FM

Show:      Aspen Public Radio, Elise Thatcher Interview

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:       August 12, 2014

Topics:     Economy, Environment, Education, Energy, Household Median Income, Construction, Job Numbers, Senator Mark Udall, New York Times, Gasoline, Food Prices, College Tuition, Policies, Regulations, Four Corners Plan, Comprehensive Tax Reform, Overseas, Keystone XL Pipeline, Fracking, Energy Ban, Ballot Initiatives, Polis Commission, Personhood, Flip-Flopping, Birth Control, Oral Contraception, Over-the-Counter, Gaza, Israel, Hamas, Iraq Airstrikes, ISIS, Ethnic Minorities, Religious Minorities, Thompson Divide, Senator Michael Bennett, Congressman Scott Tipton

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THATCHER:  :  Okay, can you tell me what you had –.  What’s your schedule been like, so far? [Inaudible]

GARDNER: It’s been awesome.  We’ve been all over the place. We have been, in just the last couple of days.  Vail, Gunnison, Glenwood [Springs], Carbondale, Grand Junction, Loma, Rifle, Craig, Meeker, Granby, Steamboat, Walsenburg, Fort Garland, Westcliffe, Canon City, you name it

THATCHER:  [Inaudible]

GARDNER: No, no, no.  Just the past couple of days, yeah.  You got it.

THATCHER:  Okay.  Well, I’m ready to start whenever you are.


THATCHER:  […] Well, Congressman Gardner, thanks for taking the time to talk.

GARDNER: Thanks for having me.

THATCHER:  So, this has become a national race in a lot of ways.  How do you make sure that it’s still about Colorado and Colorado issues?

GARDNER: It’s always been about Colorado. And it always will be about Colorado.  [I’m] excited about what we are going to do throughout the four corners of this state — representing the best vision for a brighter future.

THATCHER:  And so, how do you make sure then, that you’re not sucked into the national focus, being asked about foreign policy, which of course I’ll ask you about later, but what are the key Colorado issues that you want to focus on?

GARDNER: Well, the key CO issues that we’ll focus on continue to be the economy, how we are going to get this state turned around, growing economically again. I think if you go into Denver you see a lot of construction cranes. But other parts of the state haven’t been so fortunate. So, whether you’re east, west, north or south, we’re going to be fighting for economic health and economic growth.  We’re going to be talking about responsible energy development.  We’re going to be talking about what we can do for education for the next generation of people of in Colorado and this country, and what we can do to protect our environment.

THATCHER:  So, along those lines of the economy, a lot of measures show that it’s getting a lot better since the recession.  Unemployment is down, uh– I’m sorry — the number of jobs is back up, a variety of other factors.  So, with the Democrats being in office and that taking place, how do you say, “As a Republican, I can make that better?”

GARDNER: Well, if you look at the time that Senator Udall has been in the Senate — the past 6 years, if you look at the time President Obama has been in the White House — the past 6 years, over that very time the median household income in Colorado has declined by 6.4%. The hours worked in a week has declined for hourly workers. The fact is, the New York Times reported recently that the American household has declined in value — the worth of the household has declined in value by a third over the past several years. And that doesn’t mean just what the house is worth, but that’s their investments, their retirement, everything they have touched has declined by a third.  And so, while it looks like unemployment numbers have headed in the right direction, and they certainly have — we still have what looks like a very veneer on the economy.  You scratch it and you get down to what’s happening and people are still hurting and people are still suffering from an economy that still has $3.75 a gallon of gasoline, record high food prices, in some instances, college tuition increasing dramatically.  The fact is there are people across this state who are working harder and harder — harder than they ever have– and finding themselves falling further and further behind.  And that’s a direct consequence of this president and Mark Udall’s economic policies.

THATCHER:  And so, what would you do differently?

GARDNER: Well, again, we’ll focus on the Four Corners Plan. The Four Corners which is the economy, energy, education, and the environment.  I believe we have to have overall comprehensive tax reform that would allow corporations to once again be competitive. Instead of sending monies overseas, they would keep that money here.  Instead of creating incentives that sends people overseas, that money would stay in the United States for investment.  That we would build things like the Keystone XL pipeline, something that the vast majority of Coloradoans support.  That we would promote energy independence in this country, putting hundreds of thous–. You know, it’s put over 100,000 people to work in Colorado, both directly and indirectly. We should reform regulations, so that we’re not strangling small businesses and so we can actually have businesses getting off the ground and opening. And so, those are the things that we would do. All of those things have been made worse by this administration.

THATCHER:  Speaking of energy policy, what do you think about the agreement regarding ballot measures and fracking here in Colorado — good idea?  Bad idea?

GARDNER: I certainly think that having an energy ban on the ballot is a bad idea.  So, I’m glad that the energy ban is not on the ballot.  However, I question the wisdom of creating a Polis commission–putting a commission together that’s going to be led or influenced, certainly, by the gentleman who wanted to put the energy ban on the ballot.

THATCHER:  So, I have about five more questions.  Um, Personhood, I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of questions about this.  A main criticism I’ve heard is why change your position on that publicly, as you jump into the race? It makes it look like you’re flip-flopping in order to win the race.

GARDNER: Well, Senator Udall himself said that a good faith change of position should be looked at as a virtue, not as a vice.  That’s not my words. Those are Senator Udall’s words.  The fact is, I listened to people.  I studied the issue.  And  I can admit when I make something that is a decision that ought to be different, and that’s what we did.  I am pro-life but the fact is, I don’t want to ban birth control, like Senator Udall is lying about.  And we’re going to make this campaign about things that the people of Colorado care about:  the economy, energy, healthcare, making sure we have a brighter future for our children.

THATCHER:  And so, what kinds or birth control do you support?

GARDNER: [chuckles– dismayed]  Look, this campaign is going to be about the economy.  It’s going to be about job creation. I believe that common forms of oral contraception ought to be available over-the-counter, without a prescription. That grows access. I don’t know where Senator Udall stands on that.

THATCHER:  Mm.  Okay.  As far as foreign policy, what’s your position on what Israel is doing in Gaza right now!  Justified?  Should it be different?

GARDNER: I think Israel has an obligation to defend its people and to protect the nation of Israel.  And we have an obligation to stand with Israel.  I think that the Hamas organization that is attacking Israel, has stated as its objective, as a terror organization, that they want nothing more than the destruction of the state of Israel and the people.  And so, while Israel has a right to defend itself, and a right to secure its own future, we must stand with Israel in determining that future, and making sure that we are defending the nation of Israel as well.

THATCHER:  And as far as new airstrikes in Iraq, do you support that?

GARDNER: Well, again, I think the fact that Senator Udall, Barak Obama have known about ISIS — ISIL– for a long time now.  And there is no coherent policy on ISIS.  We have no strategy in Iraq.  And the President has failed to put a compelling strategy forward to Congress.  And yet, we have now, airstrikes in Iraq, which I believe is appropriate to protect ethnic minorities, religious minorities who are being persecuted by a terrorist organization.  But we still don’t have a comprehensive plan about how to address this. I think it’s a shame that wasn’t prevented in the first place.  Certainly, I believe that you have people like Barack Obama and his allies who had to have known all along the threat that was posed by this organization.

THATCHER:  One last question.  Here, the Thompson Divide is a big issue.  Do you know much about it?

GARDNER: Certainly, [I] have been following it the Thompson Divide.  While it’s not in my Congressional District, obviously I”ve been following the news reports and following the legislative action that’s been taking place over it.

THATCHER:  So, one common sentiment here is, “there should be some places we’re not allowed to drill, and that the Thompson Divide is one of them.”  What’s your position?

GARDNER: Well, again, that’s something I look forward to having conversations with the community, the stakeholders.  I know that Senator Bennett has introduced legislation and Congressman Tipton has been talking with local shareholders and stakeholders about the issue.  And [I] look forward to having those very same conversations.

THATCHER:  Mm-hmm. So you don’t know yet.

GARDNER: Well, again, I think it’s something that needs to be led at the local level, and not something that I want to come in and impose from the top down.

THATCHER:  Any misconceptions you want to clear up so far in your campaign?

GARDNER: I think this is a political season where obviously, the incumbent Senator is making a series of statements, lies, deceitful advertisements.  And I just hope that the people of Colorado will understand that we have a better campaign than that, that we don’t have to stand for those kinds of smear attacks.  And that’s certainly the kind of campaign that Senator Udall is running

THATCHER:  Congressman Gardner, thanks for taking the time to talk

GARDNER: Thanks for having me.