This combo of file photos shows Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., speaks during an event in Denver in a March 1, 2014 file photo, left, and then Colorado...

Udall and Gardner lay out differences in round two

Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, square off in their second debate, offering sharp differences over the issues of health care, climate change, and immigration.   

Gardner, like other Republican challengers this cycle, attacked Udall for voting too often with the President and his policies, which Gardner says are on the ballot this year.  

“President Obama made it clear that his policies are on the ballot,” Gardner said.  “And Senator Udall voted with him 99% of the time.”

Udall said Gardner’s voting record in the House is “out of the mainstream” and tried to paint Gardner as an out-of-touch conservative who wants to take the state backwards on energy, climate change, immigration and health care. 

“Let’s look forward and embrace the future” Udall told the audience.  “Congressman Gardner looks backward.”

Gardner told Udall that 340,000 Coloradans lost their health care because of the Affordable Care Act. 

“Did you break your word when you said they can keep their insurance?”  Gardner asked Udall.   

Udall defended his vote on the ACA, saying we can’t afford to go back to the way things were before health care reform.

Udall slammed Gardner as “reckless” and “irresponsible” for supporting last October’s government shutdown,  during what Udall called “biblical” Colorado floods, out of misplaced loyalty to the tea party.  Gardner responded by telling Udall that he was politicizing a tragedy.   

“I know you want to play politics and politicize things that I believe are out of bonds,” said Gardner.

Gardner struck a similar cord to his Republican counterparts in Alaska and Iowa on the issue of climate change, acknowledging it exists, but refusing to concede its causes are man-made.  The Republican used the topic to criticize his Democratic rival on supporting the controversial cap and trade policy that some say raises energy costs. 

“I believe that the climate is changing but I do not believe in destroying the economy over policies to address that,” Gardner said. 

Udall chastised Gardner for not believing that climate change is occurring and reiterated his support for putting a price on pollution.  Gardner jumped in to press Udall further on a specific cost to taxing carbon emissions. 

“People talk about  how they want to put a price on carbon,” Gardner said.  “But they won’t talk about what that price is… I refuse to support a climate tax bill that would cost farmers and ranchers over $5,000 per sprinkler.”

Udall said that Gardner is for “de-facto amnesty,” an unusual attack from Democrats in a political environment where the GOP uses the same line against Democratic candidates.  

“Congressman Gardner says he’s for immigration reform,” Udall said, “but he hasn’t lifted a finger in the House of Representatives to make it happen.”   

In contrast to Gardner’s criticism of President Obama threatening to use his executive authority to overhaul the immigration system, Udall said that he was “disappointed” over the President’s failure to act.   Udall said that President Obama has a responsibility to use his authority since the Congress has been “missing in action” on this issue, continuing his assault on Gardner’s votes. 

“Just look at Congressman Gardner’s record,” Udall said.  “ He’s voted to deport dreamers.”