Colorado’s Morning News, Cory Gardner, June 16, 2017

Station:    KNUS, 710 am

Show:        Colorado’s Morning News

Guests:     Gardner, Cory


Date:         June 16, 2017




HOST STEFAN TUBBS:  Sen. Cory Gardner joins us on the KOA news line. And [I’m] sorry to have this, under the circumstances. As the last few hours have unfolded, have you been following, and what is your reaction?

U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER:  Well, I certainly have been following. My reaction is to praise the incredible work of the Capitol police, to pray for the staff and members of Congress who were injured, and to express the concern that I have to all who see what’s happening and unfolding when a rhetoric in political debate can rise to a level that perhaps it creates a situation.

HOST APRIL ZESBAUGH: Yeah, I wonder about that. Let’s delve into that little bit. Police have ID’d the suspect in the shooting as a 66 year-old man from southern Illinois, James T. Hodgkinson, clearly a Bernie Sanders fan on his Facebook page, and clearly has a lot of anger about Pres. Donald Trump. Do you feel like why this kind of thing — is it a culmination of sort of where we are in this country right now with just heated rhetoric on both sides?

GARDNER:  Well, I think this is a lesson that should be learned on both the left and the right. And I would just — take a look at my Facebook post today. Take a look at the comments that I have received to social media in response to the statement that I made, praying for Congressman Steve Scalise: comments back in social media from people saying I wish it would’ve been more; comments saying that this is what he deserved. It’s gone too far when you have people walking around with the decapitated head of the President and you have the Grim Reaper walking around in your congressional offices. It’s a lesson to both the left and the right that, you know, actions, words have consequences. And I think Chris Christie, governor, said it best one time at a talk I heard him give: “It’s hard to hate up close.” And we have to remember in this society that we can disagree on the political issues but it should never rise the level we’re willing to take — casually take — somebody’s life, because of that disagreement, and that rhetoric has consequences.

TUBBS:  Do you favor, now, even thinking about perhaps extra security? Would you want a security detail, now that we see that this line has been crossed?

GARDNER:  Look, this is, I pray, an extreme case, an isolated incident. And the great thing about the United States is our open government, our transparent government, the fact that we have access, that I meet with Coloradans each and every day, and that they have the chance to see their government in action. And that shouldn’t change.

ZESBAUGH: We’ve heard House committee business will not be happening today. We know the president is about to speak. We’ll take that live, in just a few minutes. Mike Pence has canceled his obligations for the day. What about on the Senate side? What’s – lay out your day for us.

GARDNER:  You know, we have obviously met with staff here on the Hill, reminding them about security, emergency preparedness, and precautions, and talked to the office about our plans for such incidents and reminding people that, you know, prior to this event, Capitol remains a a elevated target in the eyes a lot of people, not just in the United States but around the globe. And so, business is continuing in the Senate. There were — I just left a committee hearing on autonomous vehicles. So it is still continuing. We’ll learn a lot more after our weekly luncheon today with the Senate, and have a chance to get, hopefully, a little bit more clarity on what has happened.

TUBBS:  Have you talked to your wife today?

GARDNER:  I have. And of course, that’s the first  –.  [pause, as Sen. Gardner chokes up, then knocks on a surface nearby, then, voice cracking] First thing we do.

TUBBS:  [long pause, then whispering] Yeah. [full voice] And you have kids.

GARDNER:  Congressman Scalise, of course, has young kids, and [knocks again] I believe there may have been at least one child to — that was — witnessed what happened. And so, look, in this country we have to have a conversation about this and far too many other tragedies, and far too many things that have happened in our country, and figure out a way to stop it. If it’s a need for people to have the mental health resources, let’s make sure that that happens. And we have passed legislation to make that happened with strong bipartisan support. But let’s not make sure that we supercharge an emotional time with rhetoric that can lead to consequences that nobody wants.

ZESBAUGH: As clearly as emotional as you are right now, live on the radio with us, I can’t imagine trying to do business as usual there today. And you’re talking about sitting in a meeting about autonomous vehicles. I can’t think of anything less important today.

GARDNER:  Look, the American people –you really —  in the scope and scale of things, we have to show that resolve for the American people, that we’re not going to let the actions of an individual who is willing to take the lives of others interfere with the business of the United States and the people that we represent. And so, obviously, today’s not a day for politics. Today is not a day for left and right rhetoric and fights. But we have to show the American people the resolve that we don’t let an individual, we don’t let an organization, we don’t let an ideology stop the work of this nation.

TUBBS:  Uh, we know that you’ve got to run, Cory.  Should the game go on tomorrow night?

GARDNER:  You know, I thought a lot about that. And you know, maybe there has to be additional security precautions for it, and I’m not one of the players of the teams. And you know, I would first and foremost yield to them and their beliefs. They’ve gone through a heck of a lot today, But you know what?  I don’t think we should let one individual’s act of hate stop that. Now, again, it’s entirely up to the people who are involved and directly involved, but we can’t let the actions of — horrible actions — of an individual change the direction of a country.

ZESBAUGH: Sen. Cory Gardner, thank you so much for your eloquence and for your timing. Thank you so much for being able to join us this morning.

TUBBS:  Yeah, for sure.

ZESBAUGH: We appreciate it.

GARDNER:  Yep! Thanks for having me!