You can always tell when an issue makes a candidate nervous and puts him or her on the defensive: they try to explain themselves in a campaign ad. Take, for example, far-right Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republicans’ U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado, who released a curious new ad overnight.
For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s a transcript:
“So, where’s what’s happening. Barack Obama’s ‘smart guys’ from Washington think they can come into Colorado to play politics. They’re attacking me for changing my mind about Personhood after I learned more and listened to more of you.“No wonder Sen. Udall and President Obama can’t relate to that. Their takeover of health care is a disaster. We all know it. Yet Udall and Obama refuse to listen – while everyone else pays for it. I’m Cory Gardner. I will listen and I approved this message.”
There’s an old adage that’s been around in politics for a long time: if you’re explaining, you’re losing. In this case, Gardner is still explaining his support for Personhood measures, which would ban abortion and many forms of birth control.
Unfortunately, though, the congressman’s explanation fails under minimal scrutiny.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Gardner’s health care rhetoric is plainly mistaken. The Affordable Care Act isn’t a “takeover” and it’s obviously not a “disaster.” The system is actually working quite well, as federal lawmakers should probably realize.
But far more important in this instance is Gardner’s Personhood claim. In the ad, he faces the camera, looks voters in the eye, and makes claims that simply aren’t true.
The congressman, for example, claims he’s “changed his mind about Personhood.” In reality, Gardner has announced, “In the state of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support.” But in Washington, Gardner is still, as of this morning, a co-sponsor of federal Personhood legislation.
Politicians aren’t supposed to say they’ve changed their mind about Personhood if they haven’t actually changed their mind about Personhood.
Also in the ad, Gardner said he reversed course – even though he didn’t – “after I learned more information.” That, too, is an odd claim. Gardner is effectively positioning himself as a politician who decides to restrict women’s rights first, then gets information about his plan second. This is an awkward sales pitch for a statewide candidate to make.
And finally, Gardner said he flip-flopped – even though he didn’t – because he “listened” to the people of Colorado. But that’s also demonstrably wrong. After Coloradoans voted against Personhood, Gardner ignored them and pushed another Personhood measure. When that failed, Gardner ignored Coloradoans again and pushed for a federal Personhood measure. That’s not listening to the people; it’s the opposite.
He later tried to kinda sorta reverse course, but by all appearances, the only people the congressman was “listening” to were Republican pollsters.
It’s clear that this issue has put the congressman on the defensive. If it weren’t taking a toll on his support, Gardner wouldn’t be airing an ad on the subject.
But if Gardner can’t air an honest ad, talking to voters truthfully about his record and positions, the Republican Senate hopeful has a bigger problem on his hands.