This is Colorado politics in the internet era.
This week, Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall blasted campaign opponent Congressman Cory Gardner with a Web ad underlining Gardner’s support for the anti-abortion “personhood” movement.
Gardner then posted his own quick response ad in which he says he is “listening” on personhood and that Udall is just trying to distract from Obamacare.
Then today came a new web ad, this one from Planned Parenthood’s political arm, Planned Parenthood Votes, which is running a midterm election campaign it calls “Women are Watching.” The group’s ad is a response to the Gardner response and it argues that the congressman, who has ever only represented rural conservative constituencies, has a current record in Washington that demonstrates he is as pro-personhood now as he has ever been and is now simply trying to whitewash the facts to win his first statewide race.
Gardner is unlikely to come out ahead in the web war. His performance in his ad is stilted and expository. He says he “changed his mind on personhood” but he hasn’t. He backed a slew of anti-abortion bills over the last decade as an officeholder and he supported personhood ballot initiatives in the state two election seasons in a row. More to the point, he still says he is adamantly anti-abortion and he is a current co-sponsor of the main personhood bill on the docket on the Hill, the “Life at Conception Act.” Gardner’s ad has the “I didn’t do it” feel of a man who has been caught and put against a wall and asked a question point blank.
The series of ads on Gardner and personhood — or women’s health more generally — poses a question: What’s to stop Udall from doing this to Gardner repeatedly on a host of issues? What’s next, immigration-policy reform? Gay rights? The prospect raises another question: What’s to stop all Democratic candidates in the state running in swing districts or for statewide offices from “Gardnering” their opponents this way on the same set of issues, where majorities of voters solidly embrace Democratic positions?