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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Another easy question; another apparent whopper of a white lie

Littwin: Another easy question; another apparent whopper of a white lie

 
The question in the 9News Senate debate was half-softball, half-gotcha and the answers, by themselves, meant little in the greater scheme of things.

Except for this:

On the night that co-moderator Kyle Clark directly challenged Cory Gardner’s apparent unwillingness to tell the truth, Gardner seems to have told, well, a whopper of a white lie.

It began this way. In trying to gauge how bipartisan Mark Udall or Gardner might be, Clark asked if either could recall voting for a candidate from the opposite party. Udall said he couldn’t, at least not in the last 10 years. Gardner said no.

Ace reporter Lynn Bartels, who has covered Gardner for years, was a little skeptical, and so she slid into the fact-check machine and didn’t come out until discovering this little gem:

Gardner was a registered Democrat for eight years, from 1992-2000. He said in debate this week that he has never voted for a Democratic candidate. Why would he say that?

Gardner, as he has said, was a Democrat back in the day. What I’d never seen was that he was a registered Democrat for eight years, from 1992-2000. That’s more than one third of his voting life. And so, to believe Gardner, we have to believe that in his eight years as a Democrat — as a very vocal Democrat, one actively involved in party affairs – that he never managed to vote for a member of his own party, even one whose nomination for office he had officially seconded.

Of course, I’m told there could be an alternative explanation for his recall deficit. Maybe he couldn’t recall as a result of concussions that he suffered during his football years.

Do you believe Gardner’s simple no?

Does anyone believe that?

But the real question is, if Gardner did lie, why would anyone lie about such a meaningless circumstance? If you add in the “There is no federal personhood bill” when there obviously is a federal personhood bill, and when you further add that Gardner says he didn’t vote for a government shutdown when he did, in fact, make votes that led directly to a government shutdown, you might wonder if there’s a trend.

I called the Gardner campaign to get Gardner’s side of the story. I laid it out for them. I asked for real alternative possibilities. And in what has become part of the Gardner narrative, they didn’t call back.

Debate day — the fourth debate in nine days — had begun brilliantly for Gardner. The polls keep coming in showing Gardner with a narrow but consistent lead. And then Deadspin, the sports gossip site, wrote a gotcha story saying it had caught Gardner in a lie. It wasn’t much of a story even if true, which it wasn’t. Gardner had told the Washington Post an anecdote involving his football days in Yuma and about a nearby opposing team that persisted in using the old single wing formation. That’s a deeply inside-football metaphor, but Gardner likes to do football metaphor.

Someone must have told Deadspin that Gardner had never played. Deadspin contacted an old Yuma teacher, the local high school football historian, who said that Gardner never played. Deadspin called the Gardner campaign, which (see above) never responded. But the story was wrong. It turns out Gardner had played JV ball. The campaign tweeted out the story and a photo of Gardner in uniform. Deadspin’s source told the Denver Post he had been wrong. And suddenly, as Deadspin apologized for its mistake, it was another example of the media attacking Gardner unfairly.

(The Colorado Independent has had its own fling with this. Gardner was quoted in the Congressional Quarterly transcript of a House hearing saying he had had two hip surgeries. The Independent quoted the Quarterly transcript, but The Quarterly, it turned out, had quoted the wrong congressperson. The Gardner campaign immediately tweeted that we had it wrong. The Independent took down the story in about two minutes and apologized for reproducing the error. The Gardner campaign, which had never returned the Independent’s calls and emails [see above and further above], reveled in the mistake for about two weeks.)

So, there was Deadspin and then there was the 9News debate’s decidedly anti-spin. And then there came Kyle Clark’s question, which may have transformed the debate.

In case you missed it, when addressing Gardner’s insistence that the federal personhood bill he co-sponsors is not actually a federal personhood bill, Clark said: “Let’s talk about what that entire episode may say about your judgment more broadly. A charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation would be that you’re not telling us the truth. Which is it?”

Clark’s question didn’t faze Gardner. He gave the same answer he always gives these days, that the bill is just a statement of belief. Hey, it’s what he says.

And so, did Gardner tell the truth on his voting record? (Just look at all the trouble Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes has gotten herself into by refusing to say whether she had voted for Barack Obama, when anyone could guess she had — and all she has done is make people wonder if she’s too slippery to give a straight answer.)

As Bartels noted, Gardner seconded the nomination of former Fort Collins Mayor Susan Kirkpatrick in 1998 at the Democratic 4th Congressional District Assembly. Did he not vote for her? And then there’s this: As a Democrat for eight years, did Gardner vote a straight non-Democratic ticket in election after election?

Hey, I don’t know the answers. I’m just hoping that someone has the chance to ask him the follow-up question.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

3 Comments

  1. Will Morrison on said:

    It’s Cory Gardner. And an elected republican. Those two things in the same paragraph mean that there won’t be any truth, any responsibility taking, or any dignity involved.

    Gardner is owned by the Kochs, what more needs to be said? If you want to vote for someone who will give the billionaires even more of what YOU have left, then vote for Gardner. He’ll make sure that is EXACTLY what happens.

    This liar needs to be kept out of the senate. THINK, Colorado. Do you REALLY want this mealy mouthed liar representing YOU? Because he WON’T if he gets into the senate, any more than he has as a representative. Send this Koch brother plant home.

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    Considering the obvious disdain Mr. Littwin holds for politicians who dodge hard questions you’d think he’d be more forthcoming when faced with his own, well, inconsistencies.

    But if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Instead of candor Mr. Littwin has adapted as his default position the four pillars of evasion: Avoid. Deflect. Ignore. Repeat.

    He is the Artful Dodger minus the artful.

    While a relentless critic of question-dodging politicians Mr. Littwin simultaneously has perfected his own technique for the very same reason: to avoid embarrassment. Politicians dodge embarrassment by talking about something else while Mr. Littwin dodges embarrassment by writing about something else.

    For example: bombing ISIS.

    Mr. Littwin and Senator Udall are on opposite sides of this issue. Mr. Littwin is outspoken in his criticism of President Obama’s decision to bomb ISIS worrying, as only Mr. Littwin can, that “something could go wrong.” Senator Udall not only embraces Obama’s decision but in a recent TV ad reminds voters of his determination “to defeat ISIS, with full support for America’s airstrikes in Syria and Iraq”?

    So how does Mr. Littwin reconcile those contradictory points of view while still maintaining support for Senator Udall? That’s easy, he doesn’t! He simply writes about something else: Supreme Court non-decisions, Mr. Beauprez, Jefferson County School Board members, most, but not all, TV political ads and, of course, political debates which even he admits “meant — I know you’re with me here — nothing.”

    Avoid. Deflect. Ignore. Repeat.

    Then there’s this from the Washington Post:

    “Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has talked about contraception and abortion more than just about any other 2014 candidate. Roughly half of his ads are about women’s issues. The focus has been so intense that Udall has been nicknamed “Mark Uterus,” with local reporter Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post joking that if the race were a movie, it would be set in a gynecologist’s office. In a debate between Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner last week, Bartels, who moderated, used the moniker to describe him.

    For all of that focus —and the insistence from Democrats that Gardner’s record on women’s issues was the key to Udall’s reelection —the incumbent has watched the race slipping from his grasp in recent weeks, an erosion that many strategists believe speaks to the limits of the “war on women” strategy.”

    That’s right, “Ace reporter Lynn Bartels” not only joking about Senator Udall’s campaign strategy but referring to him by his “Mark Uterus” nickname in one of the Senate debates and yet, somehow, Mr. Littwin failed to mention that in his column.

    Avoid. Deflect. Ignore. Repeat.

    And, according to the National Review Online, Alison Grimes isn’t alone in ducking questions about her voting habits:

    ​”Another Democratic Senate candidate has refused to say whether she voted for President Obama: This time it was Michelle Nunn in Georgia.

    The same question has tripped up other red-state Democrats on the campaign trail. On two occasions over the past week, Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes has been panned for her refusal to answer the question, twice citing the “sanctity of the ballot box” as her reason for keeping mum.

    Nunn was approached by a tracker who asked her if she voted for the president in 2008 or 2012. Nunn did not respond and kept walking towards the venue she was headed to.”

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite! – Tennessee Williams

    “(President Obama) told the young graduates their future is bright unless, of course, they want jobs. Then they’re totally screwed.” – Jay Leno

    Wounded Warrior Project
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2014

  3. JW Stephens on said:

    When Gardner was a Democrat the Republicans were the opposite party. The question is misleading in this context.

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