Ross Kaminsky Show, Cory Gardner, October 23, 2018

Station:    KHOW, 630 am

Show:       Ross Kaminsky Show

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:       October 23, 2018


Click Here for Audio

HOST ROSS KAMINSKY: [00:00:00] […] on our VIP line, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. We have a lot of things to talk about this morning. Cory, thanks so much for being here this morning. And let’s just jump right in, actually, with your brief take –especially from your position as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — on the Senate elections’ outlook. I think you’re actually doing a little campaigning today. How are you seeing the layout right now?

UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER: [00:00:21] Yeah, thanks, Ross. Thanks for having me. Look, I’m very confident that the Senate will retain the majority. Republicans will retain the majority. In fact, I believe we will grow the majority. I think if you look at states that are up for re-election this year — Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota. These are states that Donald Trump won in 2016 [and] most likely look like they’re going to go to Republican candidates right now, in just a couple of weeks. Beyond those states though, you look at states like Florida, you look in states like West Virginia or Montana, these races are very competitive where we have a chance for a pickup. And then, of course, the holds that we have — the seats that we need to hold, that we’re on defense with in Nevada, Tennessee, and Arizona, Texas. Our candidates look very strong there as well, especially in Tennessee and Texas. And then Arizona [and] Nevada are the most difficult ones, that are our incumbent are doing a great job there.

KAMINSKY: [00:01:11] What do you think was responsible for that fairly dramatic shift? I mean, polls several weeks ago looked like there was a decent chance the Republicans could lose Nevada and Arizona and maybe even Tennessee, maybe one or two others. Was it Kavanaugh? Was it something else? Is it just republicans coming home that now has all of these [races] with Republican leads?

GARDNER: [00:01:33] You know, I believe that every single one of these seats that I mentioned was an opportunity for us. Two years ago I talked about how, you know, Donald Trump won North Dakota by, you know, 30-some points, West Virginia by 40-some points, that we were going to be very competitive — if not outright win — these seats. And so I think we’re just seeing that. I mean, I don’t know that anything has changed other than these seats are doing what people in that state two years ago. And that’s vote for people who they believe will cut taxes, cut regulations, grow the economy, and get government out of the way. And yeah, I mean, I think what happened as a result of the past couple of weeks, in the past couple of months, between tax cuts and others that people were excited about this. And there certainly is an enthusiasm gap that existed, you know, two months ago that does not exist today.

KAMINSKY: [00:02:18] So, I personally am hugely enthusiastic about the tax cuts that were passed. Polling — to whatever extent you believe it — doesn’t seem to show that the tax cuts are overall a big winner with the American population. First of all, do you think that’s true, broadly speaking? And if it is, why is that? Why don’t people appreciate the value of tax cuts more?

GARDNER: [00:02:41] Look, I think people understand that they have more money in their pocket today than they did. I think people around Colorado are seeing wages increase. I think in places up and down the Front Range, the eastern plains, and western slope we’re starting to see more job activity occur. You’re starting to see a number of businesses bring dollars back into the United States. I think that’s happening. Now, there are some in Washington who want to increase taxes. They want to make sure that government grows. And I just don’t think that’s where the American people are. But I think overall, with an economy that is where — in a place it is now, where it hasn’t been in 40 years, that is a reflection of the tax cuts, regulatory reforms that have been made. And I think people recognize that.

KAMINSKY: [00:03:22] A lot of folks are asking what President Trump is talking about when it comes to this upcoming tax cut for middle income people, or something like that. It seems like members of Congress don’t really know what he’s talking about. Do you?

GARDNER: [00:03:35] You know, I think we’ll see more details. One of it will obviously be to make sure that the tax cuts that we put into place are permanent. This is — you know, the way we structured the tax bill, there were tax cuts made for parts of it were permanent, parts that were short-term, in order to comply with budget constraints that were placed on it. I think we want to make sure that we make those tax cuts on individuals — the middle class –permanent. And I would think that there’s broad support for that. I hope nobody wants to say, “Yeah, let’s let that expire.” So, that’s the first part of it, and then maybe there’s more detail that he has, and additional efforts. Obviously, I think — I’d love to make those permanent.

KAMINSKY: [00:04:11] There is some chance that the Democrats might take the House of Representatives. Betting odds have been stuck at around 2 to 1 in favor of that for some — a couple of months now, actually. If it goes that way in particular, what do you expect might be the key parts of the lame duck agenda in Congress while Republicans still control majorities in both houses?

GARDNER: [00:04:35] You know, I think part of it will — obviously, in the Senate — continue to be confirmations. We still have to get our job done from a number of judges that remain to be filled, a number of judicial positions that need to be filled, ambassadors and other secretarial positions that need to be filled. I also think during that lame duck session you could see a tax cut — that I just talked about — making the middle class tax cuts permanent, making sure that we’re making individual tax cuts permanent, and then continued regulatory reforms. But you know, I’m not convinced that they will win the majority. I think the odds historically are with the Democrats taking back the majority. But there’s nothing that says we can’t win this back. And in fact, you know, maybe the odds are 40-60. I don’t know, but if you bat 400 a year, that’s a pretty doggone good year.

KAMINSKY: [00:05:20] I agree. And I think some of these folks who are saying that the Dems have an 80% chance of winning back the House are absolutely fooling themselves. And I would love to take the other side of that bet. One issue that is a pretty big issue in this election is health care. And Democrats are talking about it a little more than Republicans. So it’s sort of a two-part question. How do you see health care playing in the election, and especially this idea of protecting preexisting conditions, which seems to be part of Obamacare that the broader public has kind of grabbed on to and Trump saying he wants to support? And then do you think that might be part of a lame duck agenda?

GARDNER: [00:05:55] I think what we’ve seen is people who voted for the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — trying to cling to Obamacare as the only thing and the best thing for the American people. What we’ve seen under Obamacare is people had their health insurance plans canceled. They lost the doctor they were promised they can keep. Their health care costs increase dramatically. We have repealed the most unsavory parts of Obamacare the people — the parts that people dislike the most, which is the mandatory provisions of Obamacare. We actually got that repealed this past year. But you know, then you can see the news in Colorado where, you know, they talk about what is happening to health insurance rates this year. But the bottom line is this. Health insurance rates are too doggone high! People are paying too much for health insurance! And unfortunately, the people who supported Obamacare want to keep it as is. What I’d like to see — what I think we want to see — is a plan in place that would drop the cost of health insurance, drop the cost of health care, increase the quality of care, and cover preexisting conditions, cover people who can’t afford this. This is what we should do as a society. But what we can’t do is keep a plan in place that continues to wreck people with high priced care. That’s what we have to do. And I don’t think it makes any sense to keep something that’s not working in place simply because, well, they voted for it once. They want to keep it around.

KAMINSKY: [00:07:17] Yeah, I mean, and color me cynical, Cory, but part of me thinks that the Democrats are perfectly happy with incredibly expensive and fairly bad health insurance,so that they can blame that on the private sector and try to continue with this push that they are really full speed into, now, for Medicare or Medicaid for all.

GARDNER: [00:07:37] Well, let’s make it clear: Medicare For All is simply socialized medicine. This is the government paying for health care. This is the government being in charge. And people say, “Oh, no! You can still go to your own doctor.” [laughs] When the government is the payer, the government is the boss. And I think that’s what people have to recognize. This is the government. This would be the government taking over something like $35-$40 trillion plan that would swamp our budget, jack up our taxes. And you think we’ve got a problem now with the government incompetency, wait until they take over every hospital in the country.

KAMINSKY: [00:08:11] So, I agree with every factual statement you’ve made about the health care situation, Obamacare, and all of that. I wish Republicans were a little better at telling the story. For example, saying, “Here is –,” not just, “We want to protect people with preexisting conditions, but here’s how we can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the health insurance market –especially the individual health insurance market — for millions and millions of Americans to protect a much smaller number of people with preexisting conditions.” And your side — our side, I guess — needs to get a little better at explaining what you would replace Obamacare with.

GARDNER: [00:08:45] I think you’re exactly right. You know, there were there were plans that we were pursuing last year, or two years ago, when we were looking at these replacements, that when we saw analysts like Wyman Associates– or I think, Wyman Consulting Group, a very well respected consultant group –showed that our results would insure people, our plans would insure people, and would reduce health insurance rates by, you know, significant amounts, even in the first year. Up 18%, I think, was the number that they used. We just — we didn’t do a good job of getting that story out there. We need to do a better job with that.

KAMINSKY: [00:09:16] All right. Let me see if I can get a couple more questions in with you before you go. You spent some time — mostly a couple, three weeks ago, now. But it is an important conversation that you were involved with, about civility in politics. There were some threats against your family, that very nasty message sent to your wife. What’s going on now? How’s your family?How are you feeling about this whole issue?

GARDNER: [00:09:39] Well, no — thank you for asking. You know, the family is doing great. And Jamie — my wife — is an incredibly strong individual. Obviously, we’re going to look out for our kids and make sure that they are safe. There is plenty of room — there’s all the room the world — in our politics for disagreement, for assembly, for petition, for protest, for expressions of free speech, opposition, support. That’s what this country is founded on. That’s what we believe in. But I think we’ve crossed the line when that gets to threats of assassination and death and killing. And we don’t deal with our political disputes with a bullet. We deal with it at the ballot box. And I think we’ve gone too far when you start seeing schoolteachers sending a tweet about assassinations. You know, Dr. Ford should never be in a position where she can’t go home. Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t have to worry that he’s going to be assassinated. Families shouldn’t be getting, you know, beheading videos. That’s not who we are as a country. And I think in these incredibly divisive times, we need to remind ourselves that the Constitution is something that we cherish, and it gave us every single one of these rights, to have that voice, to express that opposition, to rally behind the people who we support. But as a country, we’re better than other nations. We don’t — we don’t threaten violence.

KAMINSKY: [00:10:59] Let me make my last two questions to you about foreign policy related stuff. If the facts of this story as we believe we understand them now don’t change, if you were sitting with President Trump right now, what would you recommend to him as far as the proper American reaction to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist?

GARDNER: [00:11:20] Absolutely. There’s going to have to be a response. The status quo cannot remain. This will change our relationship. I’ve already sent a letter to the President along with about 20 of my other colleagues to spur a Magnitsky investigation. That’s the name of the legislation that we have that would investigate individuals abroad for acts of torture, death, and target them with sanctions. We have triggered that investigation. We’re into that investigation period now. This would go after individuals, that would perhaps sanction them financially, prevent them from ever coming to United States, take away their visas into the U.S.. That’s something we to look at more globally and broadly. This will affect the — you know, right now the arms sales with Saudi Arabia is already held — and it’s been held — I think by by Senator Menendez and I believe Senator Paul, as well. So, I’m sure that’s going to come into question. We need the facts, though. Let’s get the information. That Information right now does not look good. If there was exculpatory evidence, it would have come out. We know the Saudis have said this happened. They’ve tried to explain a couple of times now how it happened or why it happened — it was a fight, it was a strangulation or choking, accidentally. This all does not look good. And as a result, Mr. President you’re going to have to do what we do when our values have been — have not been upheld. And that is to hold a friend accountable.

KAMINSKY: [00:12:41] And my last question for you, Cory, I want to ask you about this quote/unquote “caravan,” now maybe 7,000 people, seems to be gaining steam as it comes towards the United States. Although it’s still quite far away. What do you make of it, broadly speaking, and although this is not the most important aspect of it, do you share my view that it is likely to help Republicans in the midterm elections?

GARDNER: [00:13:06] Well, look, I think this is — this is something that I hope will help us realize that our law as it stands right now must be strong to withstand a couple of points. Number one, we’re a nation of laws. We have borders for a reason: for security. And we have a immigration system that is broken in multiple respects. It’s broken when it comes to that security. It’s broken when it comes to the legal aspects of immigration. Look, in Colorado we know we need legal immigration. We need it for our high tech workers, we need it for healthcare, we need it for agriculture. So, we’ve got to do something that this cannot be allowed. And so, you know, when they when they reach the border, we have to have enforcement of our laws. And so I think this will help push Congress to make sure that we cut off any disincentive in the law for illegal entry into the United States, and that we make it clear: we are going to help make sure those with the legal right to be here — a legal opportunity to be here — do so according to the law. And let’s help those countries prevent this kind of flow because, you know, there’s been a lot of speculation behind what’s causing this. Maybe it’s the opposition party within Honduras, or others. I’m not going to get into that. We have this right now. And if it makes it to our border, we have to make sure that it’s secure and that the law is followed.

KAMINSKY: [00:14:27] And very quickly, Cory, — sock-sock, shoe-shoe? Or sock-shoe, sock-shoe?

GARDNER: [00:14:34] You know, I’ve mentioned this before. I think I’m — I’m– I’m sock-sock. I think that’s what I do.

KAMINSKY: [00:14:38] Do you remember, this morning? You probably didn’t get up that long ago.

GARDNER: [00:14:41] No, I’m walking around barefoot!

KAMINSKY: [00:14:42] All right. You pay attention to how you do it this morning and you report back and let us know.

GARDNER: [00:14:47] Sounds good, Ross.

KAMINSKY: [00:14:49] All right. You have a safe trip up north this morning, and good luck up there getting more Republicans elected.

GARDNER: [00:14:54] I appreciate it. Thank you.

KAMINSKY: [00:14:56] All right. Senator Cory Gardner, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Cory is actually off to Montana today to try to beat Senator — help beat Senator Jon Tester, the incumbent. [A] Democrat guy, named Matt Rosendale [is] running for that seat.