Before being elected to Congress four years ago, Rep. Cory Gardner, who's now running for Senate against Democrat Mark Udall, backed off campaign promises to ban abortion, much like Gardner did Friday when he un-endorsed the personhood amendment.
But, as documented by the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, Gardner subsequently broke his promises and pushed multiple anti-abortion bills, including legislation banning abortion outright. Gardner's history raises the question of whether Gardner's latest twist of his abortion stance can be trusted.
In 2010, just after winning the GOP primary to run against Rep. Betsy Markey, Gardner promised journalists at the Ft. Collins Coloradoan that he wouldn't introduce anti-abortion legislation, despite promising to do so at a campaign event.
The Coloradoan posted audio of a meeting between Gardner and Coloradoan editors in 2010:
Coloradoan Editorial Page Editor Kathleen Duff: You say you're not running on social issues, so you're not, for instance, planning any legislation.
Duff: And you haven't crafted anything.
Gardner: [laughs] Correct. No. No.
Coloradoan Executive Editor Bob Moore: Although I've been at Tea Party events where you were at where you were specifically asked if you would introduce legislation on abortion, and you did say yes.
Gardner: Bob, I don't recall that.
Moore: Yeah. At one, you even mentioned some legislation you had already introduced in the state legislature, too.
Gardner: I don't recall that.
Moore: I can go back and dig it out. [He did. He posted the audio here.]
Gardner: Be that as it may, I am running to balance the budget...
After this exchange, Moore called out Gardner on his flip, in an article headlined, "Despite tea party pledge, Gardner says he won't carry abortion bill."
And later, Moore called out Gardner again, after he went to Congress and broke his promise not to focus on social issues or introduce anti-abortion legislation
Moore reported Feb. 4, 2011:
During the 2010 campaign, Gardner sought to downplay abortion and other social issues, though he readily described himself as pro-life.
In a September meeting with the Coloradoan editorial board, Gardner said he wouldn't introduce any legislation on social issues.
"I am running to balance the budget, cut spending and get this economy back on track," he said.
Since being sworn in a month ago, Gardner has co-sponsored two abortion-related bills - [Rep. Chis] Smith's bill to further restrict federal funding for abortion, and a bill aimed at Planned Parenthood that would bar federal family planning grants to any organization that performs abortions.
Smith's bill aimed to save money by no longer allowing federal dollars to be spent on abortion for regular old "rape" but only for "forcible rape." After an outcry, the proposed redefinition of "rape" was dropped.
Unfortunately, Moore had already left the Coloradoan when Gardner went further, with his co-sponsorship of federal personhood legislation, called the "Life at Conception Act," which would ban all abortion, even for any kind of rape.
So, to recap, Gardner had pledged in 2010 to introduce federal legislation to ban abortion, but before he did it, he promised he wouldn't.
The Coloradoan's documentation of Gardner's multiple flips and flops on abortion issues shows how journalism serves to hold politicians accountable for what they say at different times to different audiences.