With some very big money pouring into the race for Colorado’s Senate seat, this battle has been on the watch list for most political observers. Democrat Mark Udall has been listed as one of the most endangered members of his party this season and he’s currently in a neck and neck race with Congressman Cory Gardner (R – CO 4). Representative Gardner was nice enough to grant Hot Air an interview this week to discuss the state of the race and his take on a few of the pressing issues of the day.
Hot Air: Congressman Gardner, thanks for making time for an interview with us this week. The New York Times recently listed Mark Udall as one of the top three “endangered Democrats” this cycle and Real Clear Politics poll average has your race at a dead heat. How are you doing in terms of the resources you’ll need for what’s shaping up to be a very tough race that the national media is really focusing on?
Cory Gardner: We are excited! We have received an overwhelming amount of support from Coloradans across the four corners of the state since we got into the race, and it has been incredible. We are continuing to gain more support from individuals across the state and the country every day. In fact, we raised more money from donors than any other republican senate challenger.
Senator Udall’s biggest supporters have poured millions into Senate Majority PAC this cycle. Former New York Mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, has poured $2.5 million into Senate Majority PAC, which has spent just over $2 million attacking me this cycle. California billionaire Tom Steyer, who has a deeply troubling history of trying to take Colorado’s water, has donated $5 million to Senate Majority PAC this cycle. These out of state billionaires are making it more important than ever for conservatives to get involved this election season.
HA: Political analysts like to note that Colorado has been experiencing a significant demographic shift, particularly in terms of an increasing Hispanic population and populist efforts in support of progressive agenda items. How well does a traditional, fiscal conservative message resonate in your state in 2014?
CG: Meat and potato economic issues will always be important in Colorado. Regardless of political party, Coloradans want increased economic opportunity and prosperity for their children. Unfortunately, Senator Mark Udall has spent his time in the Senate looking out for President Obama instead of looking out for middle class Coloradans.
Coloradans want government out of the way. Mark Udall supports gun control measures that are more restrictive than those that led to successful recalls. He passed ObamaCare that took away plans people were promised they could keep. And he votes 99 percent of the time with Harry Reid.
It’s time for a new generation of leaders in Washington, DC and if Coloradans honor me by electing me as our next senator, I will fight for the middle class and make economic revitalization one of my main goals.
HA: When I do a search for news on your race, probably the biggest issue under discussion is immigration, another issue which can be impacted by demographic shifts. Particularly in light of the current border crisis to the South, how would you characterize the difference between yourself and your opponent when it comes to US immigration policy?
CG: We have a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border that underscores the broader need for responsible immigration reform. My opponent, Senator Udall, voted in favor of the Senate legislation that the Congressional Budget Office estimates would decrease illegal immigration by as little as 33%. Our current problems require long-term reform, not short-term Washington fixes. I believe we should move forward with an immigration policy that prioritizes border security, and that includes a viable guest-worker program that capitalizes on the benefits of legal immigration to this country.
HA: Changing topics, over the 4th of July weekend we saw over five dozen shootings in the city of Chicago, with even more since then. Whenever headlines like this make the news, new rounds of calls go out for measures to limit the rights of gun owners. What can we expect from you in the Senate when inevitable future measures come up for a vote on things like more stringent federal background checks, limiting magazine capacity and the banning of so called “assault rifles” for use by citizens?
CG: I am a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, and will continue my strong record of defending our rights in the Senate. I will not vote to violate our Second Amendment rights, period. Senator Udall, who has shown a complete inability to discuss anything other than divisive social issues, has long-supported restrictive gun-control measures — even going so far as to push for more extreme measures than were passed in Colorado last year Senator Udall strongly advocates for a 10 round magazine limit, while measures passed in Colorado put a 15 round magazine limit in place. Counter to the will of Coloradans, he has also supported a so-called “assault weapons” ban, wishing to further infringe on our rights.
HA: As a Senator you may be called on to consider measures which affect United States foreign policy, including treaties, trade and intelligence assets. Germany recently ejected our CIA station chief from their country and our relationship with the Germans is strained, to say the least. How would you rate our nation’s current relationship with our European allies as compared to ten years ago and what, if anything, should we be doing differently?
CG: Despite his campaign promises to renew America’s standing in the world, President Obama has promoted a weak and ineffective foreign policy. As you mention, long-standing allies like Germany have rebuked the United States for our mishandling of international affairs, including concerns over American spying techniques. I’ve joined Members like Justin Amash on votes to end those surveillance techniques here at home. But our foreign policy problems extend beyond overbearing NSA-style invasions of privacy and faltering European relationships. Time and again the Administration has retreated from “red lines” and abandoned our strongest allies including Israel and Jordan.
We also have an opportunity to curtail Russian power in Eastern Europe by shipping them American-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the House recently passed my legislation regarding this issue–meanwhile, the President and the Senate have failed to act. As a Member of the Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Senator Udall could have spoken out against the President’s disastrous approach to foreign policy. Instead, Senator Udall has chosen to stand by the President and vote with him 99% of the time. We need a new generation of leadership in Washington.
HA: Congratulations are due, since you recently announced that you and your wife are expecting a new addition to your family. An occasion like this gives us all pause to wonder about the future. What are your greatest, long term concerns over the nation your new baby will inherit when he or she becomes an adult?
CG: Above all, my greatest concern is what type of future are we leaving for our children to inherit. Right now our nation has a serious spending problem and a Senate and Administration that failed to pass a budget for over four years, until the disastrous Ryan-Murray budget that cut veterans’ pensions by $6.3 billion. We have been running outrageous deficits and are saddling our children and grandchildren with over $17 trillion in debt, recklessly spending away their future. If we allow this spending spree to continue, there’s no telling what this level will be when it’s time for them to take over.
HA: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. In closing, what should we expect to see you focusing on in the closing months of this campaign?
CG: I will continue to focus on the issues important to Coloradans – reigning in our nation’s out-of-control spending, creating jobs in Colorado, strengthening the economy, and promoting a sensible all-of-the-above energy policy in a way that best benefits Colorado. The need for leadership in DC has never been more important than it is now; I know that Washington is broken and the interests of Coloradans are being ignored by our current Senate leadership. I will continue to listen to the people I meet throughout the state and look forward to hearing Coloradans’ ideas for the future. We have a duty to keep Washington accountable to the next generation and we need a new generation of leadership in the Senate to accomplish that task.
If you’re interested in lending a hand to Cory in his bid to unseat Mark Udall, you can do so here.