Much of the media chatter about the close Colorado Senate race between Rep. Cory Gardner (R) and incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D) seems focused on Gardner’s decision to claim over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pills as a main plank of his platform. The real issue for conservatives regarding Gardner, however, is his abandoning of the principles that made him a Tea Party hero in 2010.
Democrats continually try to deceive women into believing that Republicans live to take away their birth control, so perhaps Gardner is going on the offensive by snatching, as it’s been suggested, the birth control issue away from Udall and his party. There may be some worthwhile economic arguments to be made for OTC birth control, but Gardner’s betrayal of the conservative principles he ran on in 2010 is the big elephant in the room. If he loses to Udall, it is the likely reason why.
Redstate’s Erick Erickson supported Gardner in his 2010 congressional campaign and helped him defeat incumbent Democrat Betsy Markey, but Gardner’s disintegration into establishment Republican status has been evident over the past year. Erickson observed in August of last year, during the campaign to defund Obamacare:
Gardner bailed on a Tea Party Express event to support Congressman Meadows and Senator Lee’s attempts to defund Obamacare. Cory Gardner caved to pressure from the GOP leadership. We sent him to Congress as a fighter and instead he’s become a lover of the establishment. It’s a fact and I suspect you’ll now see him try to weasel his words over the next forty-eight hours to claim he’s for full repeal and defunding doesn’t do enough, so he won’t support it — or something like that.
This year, Gardner voted against the Cruz-Blackburn bill in the House to prevent President Obama from expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program of unilateral amnesty.
Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle wrote in late August that Gardner foolishly ignored the anger of American voters over the inundation of illegal immigrants:
Gardner is one of a handful of Republicans outside the mainstream of the party who voted against a House bill that defunds DACA, blocking the President from continuing or expanding the executive amnesty program that has already legalized just under a million illegal alien minors. The House bill, which passed right before August recess after initial reluctance from House GOP leadership, blocks the President from using taxpayer money to continue or expand DACA to millions more illegal aliens under broader categories than just DREAMers, which is something Obama has said he is planning to do.
Gardner, Boyle observed, and 11 other Republicans “joined almost every Democrat to vote against the measure, which passed the House 216-192.”
“Gardner’s vote on the crucial bill could undermine any would-be attacks on Democrats over the issue that are proving effective in New Hampshire and elsewhere,” he added.
In fact, a new Gallup poll has found that illegal immigration is the top concern among Republicans and the third most important issue for all Americans.
This poll, combined with a Colorado Women’s Alliance (CWA) poll reported by the Colorado Observer that found 77 percent of women voters surveyed “clearly see through the so-called Democrat ‘War on Women’ messaging strategy,” make Gardner’s pivot to birth control as a central issue suspicious at best.
The CWA poll, with analysis by Republican polling firm Magellan, found that “67 percent of respondents agree that women in America do not fear a government bureaucrat taking birth control away from them, but what they fear are politicians using the issue of access to birth control as a political tactic to scare them into voting a certain way.”
The Aurora Sentinel weighs in on what seems like an uncharacteristic concern for “cheap and easy” birth control for Gardner:
If he’s had a change of heart on this and related matters, which is apparent, then Gardner owes it to voters to be clear on that. But saying this push for OTC birth control reveals Gardner’s true colors borders on prevarication. We’ve never seen anything to indicate that Gardner has ever been a proponent for making women’s birth control cheap and easy. There is a large segment of Colorado voters who back Gardner’s conservative voting record and past comments on these issues. This disingenuous about-face is as misleading to them as it is to others.
Gardner’s character is the real issue for him in this election.