In an appearance on conservative radio Thursday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner pointed to prop-filled protests at his office as examples of rhetoric that should be toned down in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice.
In an apparent reference to die-ins and other demonstrations staged in front of Gardner’s office to illustrate the point that the GOP Obamacare replacement would actually result in deaths of people who lose health insurance, Gardner linked the shooting to “people showing up with coffins in offices around the country” and “people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office.”
Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment.
Since Trump’s victory in November, activist groups have staged die-ins in front of Gardner’s office. One May 9 “die in,” organized by Protect Our Care Colorado, Denver OFA, and Front Range MoveOn, was promoted on Facebook this way:
“Bring your signs and noisemakers and wear slings, back braces, and other visual reminders that Trumpcare will seriously injure our country’s health care system! Feel free to dress in black and bring posters written like gravestones that list the reason you died: (i.e., RIP: Lack of Maternity Care, RIP: Coverage Denied, RIP: High Premiums, RIP: Cancer, Denied Coverage).”
Other Denver-based activist groups, including Indivisible Denver, have staged die-ins and funerals at the State Capitol to oppose the repeal of Obamacare and other Trump initiatives.
Indivisible Denver leader Eric Shumake responded to my colleague Madeleine Schmidt with the following comment:
Indivisible Denver condemns any act of violence in the strongest possible terms. Our activity is 100% peaceful. Gardner’s claims to the contrary are the same divisive tactic he attempted in falsely claiming there are paid protesters. There are no paid protesters and there are no violent members of Indivisible Denver. Senator Gardner, however, continues to support a President who has openly called for public violence many times on record. Gardner would do well to look in the mirror and feel some degree of shame, but we suspect he will not.
It’s a fact that, along with the loss of health insurance resulting from the repeal of Obamacare, would come deaths. Experts differ on the scope and the trade-offs involved, but it’s objectively a legitimate point being made by protesters with props and costumes, which are clearly aimed at grabbing attention. And for good reason, activists say.
On the radio, Gardner didn’t address deaths that would be caused by potential Obamacare repeal.
“You’ve got people in coffins showing up to the offices,” Gardner told KCOL’s morning host Jimmy Lakey Thursday. “It’s almost as if they’ve allowed politics to become some sort of religion, and anyone who disagrees with them is a challenge to their faith. That is not a good situation for the discourse of this country.”
Asked by KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer whether the “nasty political rhetoric the cause of this type of violence,” Gardner said, “We’ve got more to learn.” He went on to say,
Gardner: You know, The Hill is reporting that FBI officials told The Hill that the shooting appeared to have been planned and, on the surface, appeared politically motivated. And you know, that the rhetoric, the discourse, is elevated to a point where, you know, left, right—you know, both sides have to stop this rhetoric. I mean, when you have people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office, — when we have people showing up with coffins in offices around the country, when you have people holding up the head of the president — decapitated head of the president, when you — you know, when you have people who are, you know, accusing other people of killing people.
In 2009, Tea Party activists dressed as the Grim Reaper to denounce Obamacare and the liberal agenda.
Listen to Gardner on KNUS 710-AM June 15:
Updated 6/16 at 12:44 PM to include a comment from Indivisible Denver.