In a 9News debate last night — the last debate of the campaign — Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who is running to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall, again performed the dance he has done around his support for the hardline anti-abortion personhood movement since he first announced he was altering his position in March.
He said he could no longer support a Colorado personhood proposal but he has continued to support a federal personhood proposal. Journalists have been trying for months to force him to explain whether he supports the movement or not, and he has never said.
9News anchor Kyle Clark and 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, the debate moderators, are the latest members of the profession to try and fail to get a straight answer.
Clark began the exchange.
“You continue to deny that the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which you sponsor, is a personhood bill to end abortion and we are not going to debate that here tonight because it’s a fact,” he says. “So let’s talk about what that entire episode may say about your judgment more broadly. It would seem that 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.”
“The bill you’re referring to is simply a statement that I support life,” says Gardner.
Everyone knows Gardner supports life. Clearly, the question for him put by Clark as it has been by reporters around the state, is: Why can’t you admit that the bill you’re sponsoring in Congress proposes the same law that you say you oppose in Colorado, a law that would ban abortion in all cases, outlaw common forms of contraception and tank fertility research and treatment. Tell, us: Is this politics? What do you really believe? Should personhood become the law of the land or not?
Gardner doesn’t answer. He deflects. “Let me repeat the words of Senator Udall….”
“But why does no one else think that?” interjects Clark, meaning: no one else thinks or says that the Life Begins at Conception Act is “just a statement” that says its supporters are pro-life.
“Again, I have answered this question multiple times,” says Gardner, another deflection.
The reason he is being asked about the federal bill repeatedly is because he has never answered the question. He answers other questions as a way to not answer the question and hopes no one will notice.
Then he deflects again. “If you look at what the Denver Post said [about Senator Udall…]”
“But what I’m asking you about here appears to be the willing suspension of the facts,” says Clark. “People who agree with you on the issue of life think you’re wrong about how you’re describing the bill. Everybody seems to have a cohesive idea about what this is with the exception of you, and I’m just wondering, what should voters glean from that?”
“There are people who agree with my opinion on life,” says Gardner.
Another deflection. No one asked him about whether anyone in the country shares his views about “life,” meaning abortion. Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman and every other American in the country knows there are many Americans who agree with Gardner that abortion should be outlawed.
“I support life,” says Gardner.
No asked him whether he was pro-life or pro-choice.
“The bill you’re talking about is simply a statement that I support life. Now — ” Gardner says again, looking to move on. “Now, again, I’ve answered this question multiple times, but I’ll repeat the words of Senator Udall who said… “
But he has plainly not answered the question. The question is: How can you defend your decision to dance around and obfuscate on the topic of personhood throughout a campaign in which you are running to represent a pro-choice state in the U.S. Senate.
Now it’s Rittiman’s turn to try.
“But you remain on the [federal] bill [as a cosponsor], and the idea of personhood is conferring rights of normal human beings on the unborn. I mean, that’s what the bill says.”
“Again,” says Gardner. “I support life, and that’s a statement that I support life.”