In his 5280 Magazine article Jan. 3, taking on the difficult topic of "What's Wrong with Colorado Republicans?" Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols writes:
What the GOP needs to realize is that the immigration issue offers Republicans themselves a sort of political amnesty, a chance to forge a solution that legitimately and thoroughly addresses questions of border security and citizenship without alienating Hispanics.
And who's his example of a Colorado Republican who's leading the charge? Rep. Cory Gardner.
Stokols: Only clear-headed Republicans such as Gardner are beginning to internalize this new reality.
Stokols, who's widely regarded as the leading political journalist on TV in Denver, quotes Gardner:
Gardner: Republicans have always talked about having a big tent, but it doesn't do any good if the tent doesn't have any chairs in it. Bringing Latinos to the forefront, bringing women in is absolutely critical.
That sounds good, but it's hard to find anything about Gardner's record that supports what he told Stokols, and you have to wonder why Stokols failed to point this out. (See Stokols' response below.)
With respect to women, Gardner not only voted to redefine rape, but is a full-on supporter of the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest, as well as common forms of birth control.
In this video, Gardner says: "I have signed the personhood petition. I have taken the petitions to my church, and circulating into my church. And I have a legislative record that backs up my support for life." Personhood initiative leader Kristi Brown (formerly Kristi Burton) called Gardner "one of our main supporters" during the 2008 initiative campaign.
Stokols should have asked Gardner why, with these views and others, Gardner's own presence in the GOP tent wouldn't scare away women.
Gardner's position on immigration would send Hispanics fleeing from the GOP tent along with the female humans.
In the Colorado Legislature, even when illegal immigrants were routinely attacked by both parties, he took some of the cruelist positions against illegal immigrants, including a 2006 vote against allowing state funds to be used for undocumented children to receive preventative care, like immunizations.
More recently, in 2010, in his race against Rep. Betsy Markey, Gardner made it clear he opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, unless you'd call no path at all reasonable. As first reported by Huffington Post blogger Jesse Benn, and confirmed by me, Gardner wrote:
Gardner: Over the weekend, Markey told the Coloradoan newspaper she opposes amnesty but believes that immigration reform should include a path to citizenship.
The problem with Markey's position is that "amnesty" and a "path to citizenship" is the same thing. Any proposal that allows people who are here illegally to cut to the front of the line is amnesty.
America is a nation of laws, and it is wrong for Congresswoman Markey to propose bending the rules for a group of people whose first act in this country was to break the law.
Congresswoman Markey is sending a clear message to millions of illegal immigrants that coming to America illegally carries no penalty. That is the wrong message.
Is that a sample of the friendly messages Gardner will be sending Hispanics?
Just this past June, he not only bashed Metro State University's plan to reduce tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, he also again condemned the concept of helping any undocumented college student anywhere:
Gardner: And, of course, I oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. I think it's the wrong policy. It sets the wrong kind of message to people who are in the country illegally. And I think we've got to work on border security before anything else, and I think Metro State has it backwards.
Maybe Gardner has changed over the past two years -- or over the past six months? You wouldn't think so, from looking at his position on immigration on his congressional website:
Gardner: Our first line of defense against illegal immigration is the border, and it is the federal government's job to make sure that it is secure. Americans are tired of watching the political establishment lack the will to enforce our nation's laws when it comes to border security and immigration policy.
The solution to the problem isn't for the Justice Department to file a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the Governor of Arizona for responding to a law enforcement crisis. It isn't giving amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or giving those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration.
The time has come to enforce the rule of law and end illegal immigration. To that end, I will support legislation that ensures employers only hire people who are here legally and that guest workers are here temporarily. The technology exists to accomplish this in a sensible way, and it is time that we implement that technology.
Where's the Hispanic love here? If anything, Gardner's putting himself in the teeny-weeny tent occupied by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who's mad at Obama for, for among other things, standing up for basic civil rights for Hispanic-American citizens.
Gardner's current position says nothing about the comprehensive immigration reform that Gardner told Stokols will pass this year. Nothing about a path to citizenship or the Dream Act. Nothing about families and the great history of immigration in America. It's just a bunch of meaniness, some thinly disguised, some not.
So (deep breath), why didn't Fox 31's Stokols ask Gardner about some of this stuff, instead of just praising him as "clear-headed" and writing that he's "beginning to internalize" the need for the GOP to change its ways.
Rep. Cory Gardner's past votes on women's issues and positions on immigration are well worth examining and do seem to mirror those espoused by Mitt Romney, Todd Akin and other prominent Republicans who have collectively alienated women and Latino voters from the GOP generally," Stokols told me via email. "I could have chosen to point that out but did not, this being a piece focused on the state's shifting political persuasion and the lessons to be learned from the 2012 election results. My recent conversations with Cory took place following that election and, his past votes and statements notwithstanding, he indeed seemed to have learned those lessons and to be newly 'clear-headed' about the challenges now facing his party. Whether his own votes and statements have contributed to or exacerbated those challenges is another issue, but a relevant one -- and an issue that I'm sure Democrats will be exploring further as long as Gardner's stock continues to rise.
It's fair enough to report that Gardner recognizes the need to diversify his party, but, still, Stokols' long-form article on why such change needs to happen would have been better had he asked Gardner for a scrap of substance showing what change looks like for Gardner, given his record.