In his home state of Colorado, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Purple State) is regularly attacked from both sides of the political spectrum, as a powerful leader of the Senate Republicans in Washington D.C., and as a representative to constituents in a polarized and divisive landscape in Colorado.
That’s tough territory for any statewide elected official. But Gardner has garnished a reputation in local and national interviews for threading the political needle, deftly pivoting and evading tough questions in order to simultaneously appease his local constituents and the interests of the national party. Often, what results is a cloud of ambiguity around his stances on specific, divisive issues.
Last Monday, March 12, Gardner appeared on CPR’s Colorado Matters with host Ryan Warner to discuss a few issues of the day, including the then-anticipated walkout protests by students nationwide calling for legislation to protect schools and public spaces from mass shootings.
In multiple attempts and rephrasings of the same question, Warner diligently pushed Gardner to identify specific gun legislation that he might be able to support, with only limited success.
Gardner’s responses tapdance around the periphery of Warner’s questions, and might be characterized as follows:
First attempt: We have to prevent violence, violence is unacceptable.
Second attempt: We need training for school counselors to identify potential shooters, and to address the “healthcare barriers”.
Third attempt: We must address failures in intervention by law enforcement, close the gaps in the NICS background check system, direct our efforts to ameliorate and identify mental health issues, while protecting due process for law-abiding citizens.
The interview wraps up with Warner highlighting donations from NRA to his campaigns.
Gardner’s response: Despite the appearances of $3.8 million in NRA contributions, the NRA has opposed me, and I am not obliged in any way to do the NRA’s bidding.
Listen to Gardner’s responses here: