U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and Lefty politics group ProgressNow Colorado jumped into the messaging cycle turning around Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner and his shifting views on women’s health.
The cycle has been spinning slower and faster since the day Gardner announced his candidacy, and it began spinning madly this week as he and incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall traded Web ads exploring Gardner’s admittedly murky position on the anti-abortion “personhood” movement. To update the Washington expression: He was for it before he said he was against it, although he appears to still be for it.
Here’s today’s ProgressNow ad. It’s another intimate ad, featuring a Colorado woman speaking directly to the camera — and at nearly two-minutes in length, it takes advantage of the limitless, nearly free air time available online to heighten the personal nature of the issue and make its points:
Adding more fuel to the fire, Gardner published an op-ed at the Denver Post yesterday on his support for over-the-counter sales of the birth control pill. The original piece has been buried on the Internet by a cascade of review and reaction coverage. Indeed, Rep. DeGette, the senior member of the Colorado delegation in Congress and co-chair of the House pro-choice caucus, published her own op-ed at the Denver Post today, where she comes off just this side of aghast:
“Gardner’s work on this issue has been consistent for nearly a decade. He has repeatedly supported efforts to restrict access to contraception, including birth control pills, and opposed proposals to make it more affordable and available for all women… Given this record, as a woman and an elected official, I am offended that someone would put forward a proposal that transparently contradicts long-held positions.”
In the digital era, fast-turning messaging cycles like this one are typical, which at this point doesn’t seem like a good thing for Gardner. His mixed messages on personhood and contraception are likely to keep spinning like brightly colored pinwheels above his campaign until Election Day.
ProgressNow, for one, isn’t likely to let up anytime soon. It has labeled Gardner “Con Man Cory” this election cycle and it is churning out social media campaigns on the race at a regular clip. In an email newsletter, Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harms was sardonic in her exasperation yesterday with the Gardner op-ed:
“This is really getting ridiculous,” she wrote. “As a state legislator, Cory Gardner voted against the Birth Control Protection Act. Gardner even voted against a bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception. He voted to strip contraception funding from the state Medicaid program. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which serves women in rural Colorado. He opposed covering contraception as part of preventive health care without a co-pay. Today, he decided the best way to cover women’s health is to insult the intelligence of every voter in Colorado.
“Not long ago, Cory Gardner circulated petitions for the dreaded ‘personhood’ abortion ban amendment. Today he says he opposes it. All Coloradans need to know is that they can’t trust Cory Gardner. Almost everything in Gardner’s op-ed is contradicted by something in his record. To be honest, nothing Con Man Cory says would surprise me at this point.”