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WATCH: Democrats Won’t Let Gardner Retreat On Birth Control

Memo Pad Politics

WATCH: Democrats Won’t Let Gardner Retreat On Birth Control


When U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) launched his challenge to incumbent Democratic senator Mark Udall, one of his first moves was backtracking on his support for fetal personhood, which would ban abortion and outlaw some forms of birth control and emergency contraception.

“This was a bad idea driven by good intentions,” Gardner told The Denver Post in March. “I was not right. I can’t support personhood now. I can’t support personhood going forward…The fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position.”

As the general election draws nearer, Gardner is getting even more vocal about contraception. Last week, his campaign released an ad in which the congressman touts the virtues of making birth control pills available over the counter, while an audience of women smiles, nods, and applauds.

Gardner’s motives aren’t tough to divine. Female voters will likely make the difference in Colorado’s tight Senate race, and polls have consistently shown Udall ahead among women. Furthermore, according to an NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday, 59 percent of voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restrictions on the use of contraception, while just 14 percent would be more likely. In short: Unless Gardner convinces voters that he’s had a genuine change of heart, he’s in deep trouble.

Democrats, of course, know this as well. That’s why on Monday, two Democratic groups released new ads attacking Gardner’s record on women’s health.

The first ad, from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticizes Gardner’s support for abortion bans, noting that “Cory Gardner sponsored a law which would have made it a class three felony to perform an abortion.”

The second, from MoveOn.org and NARAL Pro-Choice America, critizes Gardner’s birth control plan.

“Last year Gardner sponsored a federal personhood bill that could outlaw some of the most effective and reliable forms of contraception,” the ad’s female narrator says. “And Gardner’s new plan could cost women $600 a year in out-of-pocket medical costs.”

While Gardner has taken the most heat from Democrats, he is not the only Republican Senate candidate to try to attract female voters by backing over-the-counter contraception. Minnesota’s Mike McFadden, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, and Virginia’s Ed Gillespie have all pushed similar messages.

It probably won’t work. After all, the Republican candidates are still on record as fiercely opposing the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that private insurance plans cover some contraceptive costs. All four also spoke out in favor of the Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby decision, which greatly expanded corporations’ ability to circumvent the contraception mandate. And, most important, women are likely to recognize that — while the new Republican plan is better than nothing — offering birth control over the counter without continuing to compel insurance companies to pay for it would be a bad deal for them.

More Republicans will likely adopt the Gardner position, in an effort to blunt claims of a GOP “war on women.” But as Monday’s ads show, Democrats won’t let the flip-flops go unnoticed.

Screenshot: MoveOn.org/YouTube

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Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. Buford2k11 September 8, 2014

    Con Man Cory is just that, a con…He hasn’t said anything truthful in any of his ads…Gardner and the gop/baggers just don’t get it…Birth Control is a drug that needs supervision in most cases…He thinks it is only a sex thing…why do republicans hate women and sex??? AND AMERICA????

  2. Dominick Vila September 9, 2014

    Why are abortion opponents opposed to the most effective way to reduce the incidence of abortion? Why is taking steps to prevent life at conception viewed as a crime by so many religious zealots?

    1. FireBaron September 9, 2014

      It goes back to a line in Jeremiah “Before you (i.e. the “Soul”) were in the womb, I knew you.” Ironic, considering Orthodox Judaism does not believe the soul enters the body until it takes its first breath. So, by their (i.e. the ANTI’s) theory, even the purchasing a pack of condoms can be considered an affront to “God’s Plan”.

    2. jointerjohn September 9, 2014

      Because it fouls up their desire to keep women as the baby-making property of men. It frees women to make their own life choices. It makes women effectively equal. The misogynists running the republican party hate that.

      1. Dominick Vila September 9, 2014

        Their machismo will become obvious as soon as Hillary announces her decision to run for President.

        1. jointerjohn September 9, 2014

          Obvious and hideous.
          I was a campaign worker in Illinois when Senator Allan Dixon made some unfortunate remarks concerning Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Without saying a word, lifelong republican women went to the polls and switched over in droves to vote for Carol-Mosely Braun and Dixon was out on his sexist ear. They may make the same mistake in 2016.

  3. stcroixcarp September 9, 2014

    When I hear republican candidates advocating for OTC birth control pills, I wonder what is the catch. I think it is like putting peanut butter in a rat trap.

    1. highpckts September 9, 2014


  4. Pi_Boson September 9, 2014

    This is yet another clear Karl Rove strategy action. Tell a 30-second lie to get a vote and then cruise-on-over to the right-wing venue of making women second-class. The names and faces may change, but Karl Rove’s bait-and-switch is the architect of the GOP. Get out the vote to turn Karl Rove upside-down.

  5. highpckts September 9, 2014

    I wouldn’t believe a word! They will say ANYTHING to get into office! Woe unto those that believe this!!

  6. docb September 9, 2014

    Gardner and his other empty suit buddies are playing word games..Utter BS and lies.

    A woman must have a Doctor’s evaluation and tests run to determine which contraceptive method is best for them! Birth control is prescribed for other than contraception

    Cory the crook is a nasty piece of t-bag claptrap!

  7. howa4x September 9, 2014

    This is the GOP dilemma. The primary base is far more to the right of the general electorate. So anti reproductive rights statements are met with applause there, but not past the ballot box of the primary. People want to hear about jobs and the economy or the environment not women’s reproductive issues.

    1. johninPCFL September 9, 2014

      It is Sharia Law is promoted by the GOP, just not by that name.

      1. howa4x September 9, 2014

        It is the three legged stool that makes up the primary voting bloc, and evangelicals are a big part of that. Anytime you reach into a religion to regulate a society it always ends up with a curtailment of rights, usually against the freedoms of women.

  8. gococksri September 9, 2014

    This isn’t hard to understand. The RNC knows that over-the-counter contraception—which, in medical terms, is a questionable policy—will never be allowed to reach the floor of either congressional chamber. Hence, there is no danger that a GOP/Tea Party lawmaker will ever have to make good on his flip-flop position. The RNC also knows that conservative-types won’t desert their candidates over this because they are so viscerally opposed to anyone other than a knee-jerk, reactive Republican who votes against the best interests of these masochists every time. Hence, the RNC has suggested to GOP candidates in close, crucial races that this position might help them per the gender gap faced by Republicans.

    In the end, these people will, if elected, sustain the same policies regarding women’s health that the GOP has been pushing since it became the mouthpiece for American Crazy.

  9. herchato September 9, 2014

    Talking about shake and bake!

  10. RobertCHastings September 11, 2014

    This is a tactic Republicans have perfected over the past several election cycles. Romney acquired the nickname “Etch-a-Sketch” because of it. To more moderate audiences, one must tone down one’s more extreme plans. It is obvious how Gardner would vote if any of these issues were to come up before the Senate – he has pulled no punches regarding his stance on birth-control or “personhood”. To those who will be expected to elect him, however, he will tell them what they expect to hear from him and,like so many other Republicans of the same ilk, he will do what his fellow conservatives require of him once elected.


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