Today brings another two chapters in one of the most absurd story lines unfolding in Colorado election politics this year. Bloomberg reporter Josh Green and Charles Ashby at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel are now the latest reporters to try and fail to get a straight answer from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Cory Gardner on how he reconciles his support for an anti-abortion federal personhood bill while disavowing a state personhood initiative.
Media outlets across the state are beginning to post pieces outlining the unfolding drama. We begin below with the Bloomberg exchange:
[blockquote]Green: What’s the difference between Colorado’s personhood amendment and the federal one you still co-sponsor?
Gardner: “Well, one’s an amendment to the Colorado constitution, another one is a bill. They are two different pieces of legislation, they have two different consequences, their language is different—”
I don’t understand the difference in consequences, besides the geographic one.
“I’d encourage you to look at it. They’re two procedurally different postures. They’re legislatively in different postures.”
But they have the same effect, so what’s the difference?
“Well, what they’re trying to say that the federal bill would do is all about politics. And that’s simply what Senator Udall has tried to do this entire campaign, is to say something that’s simply not true. Look, he is focused solely on social issues—”
I don’t disagree, but the point they make is that the personhood amendment would outlaw certain kinds of [birth control], so—
“And that’s why I oppose it.”
Right, but at the federal level it would presumably do the same thing.
“If you look at the law, it would not.”
Several medical organizations disagree.[/blockquote]
As Green and many others have pointed out, Colorado is a solidly pro-choice state. It has voted against personhood initiatives in two previous elections because personhood would ban abortion outright as well as many forms of common contraception and it would tank much fertility treatment and research in the state. Gardner represents a conservative congressional district and has been a longtime champion of personhood. This year, soon after announcing he would run for the Senate, he said he no longer supported “personhood in Colorado.”
Here’s how Ashby yesterday wrote up the Sentinel’s exchange with Gardner.
[blockquote]In a long and sometimes heated discussion about the issue with The Daily Sentinel editorial board, Gardner repeated [his] stance, saying he supports the use of contraception, including making some available over the counter.
But when asked why he continued to keep his name among the 131 other cosponsors of the [federal] Life at Conception Act, he said repeatedly that it wouldn’t have the same impact as a state constitutional amendment even though it would impact the entire nation as opposed to a single state.[/blockquote]
Gardner last week stonewalled KDVR reporter Eli Stokols in a one-on-one televised interview on the topic. The video is breathtaking in the way it captures the contemporary politics of the non-answer. The exchange begins at about the two-minute mark.
Here’s a related video fast-cut edit that includes scenes from the campaign trail.
To recap: Gardner has said there is no federal personhood bill. The fact is there is one. It’s called the Life at Conception Act. California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter is the sponsor. This is how Hunter describes the bill at his website:
[blockquote]I am an original cosponsor of the Life at Conception Act to prohibit abortions by declaring that life begins at conception. This measure is a legislative approach to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade by establishing personhood under the 5th and 14th Amendments.[/blockquote]
Gardner is a cosponsor of that bill.
Gardner last week told the Durango Herald that there are aspects of the bill that make a substantive difference when set against the state personhood proposal he says he no longer supports because he acknowledges it’s too radical for Colorado.
“One is a federal bill,” he said. “One is a state bill. One’s an amendment to the state constitution with a number of other implications. The [personhood proposals] are different. They are not the same.”
The people most intimately familiar with the Life at Conception Act — the lawmakers who drafted and introduced it, the organization spearheading the personhood movement in the country, anti-abortion organizations, Republican politicians seeking to fundraise off the act — all say it is a personhood bill.
Gardner in a Denver Post debate on Tuesday took a new tack. He suggested the Life at Conception Act is not even really a bill. He said it’s “just a statement that I support life.” But it is a bill. It’s a proposed law that would outlaw abortion.
State politics blog Colorado Pols mocks Gardner‘s playing-the-fool intransigence, saying his continuing dance around the issue has eroded his credibility across the board.
[blockquote]At this rate, Gardner is going to start telling reporters that the two Personhood measures are written in different types of font. He’s really got nothing left. One is written in Times Roman, one is written in Arial. One is printed on plain copy paper, one is printed on a heavier paper stock. Why can’t you understand the difference?!?
There will be another chapter of the story to add tomorrow: Gardner is debating incumbent Sen. Mark Udall again tonight in Pueblo.
If Gardner loses his Senate bid this year, he is out of a job. If he plans to run again for the Senate in 2016, as many have speculated, his campaign this year, devolving as it is in the final stretch to absurd dodging on personhood that is being chronicled in detail at news outlets across the state, may make another run highly unlikely.