The race for U.S. Senate in Colorado has been tightening for weeks, and it now appears that incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is on the ropes as polls show Colorado voters leaning towards backing Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO). Gardner has the wind at his back, and the race has become characterized by the Udall camp’s sloppy attempts to reignite the “war on women” by accusing Gardner of opposing women’s reproductive rights (despite his documented support for making access to oral contraception easier).
Gardner’s momentum could, however, be easily blunted if he or his supporters make a mistake that takes the focus off of Udall’s flailing campaign and back onto Gardner. On Monday, one such avenue arose by which Udall can frame himself as a victim of scurrilous attacks by conservatives aligned with Gardner, and it could reverse the Republican candidate’s gains if left unchecked.
The controversy centers on a 2007 video which features Udall attending a town hall in which he was asked by an audience attendee if he supported a new investigation into the attacks of September 11 given what the questioner claimed was new evidence suggesting the towers did not collapse as the result of two plane impacts.
Udall appeared to disregard the questioner’s comments at first, but also seemed to come around to their position after he was heckled. “There’s some evidence that there were charges planted in the buildings,” Udall told the town hall evidence, before noting that he had seen nothing to substantiate this claim.
Business Insider posted this heavily edited video after they were alerted to it via someone they describe as a “conservative tipster” who posted a 23-second sound bite from this video to YouTube on Monday. After reviewing the full transcript and audio provided to them via the Udall campaign, Business Insider’s report asserted that it is clear Udall did not lend any credence to the conspiracy theorist’s musings about the 9/11 attacks.
When Business Insider contacted the Udall campaign about the video, they provided us with audio of the town hall as well as a transcript. Looking at the quote in context, it is clear Udall was paraphrasing some of the claims referred to by members of the audience as they shouted at him when he made the comment that led the activists to claim he was agreeing with some of their ideas and appears to have attracted the attention of conservatives.
“I think that the key point here is regardless how the buildings came down, we were attacked on 9/11,” Udall said later said according to the transcript. “We were attacked.” That key phrase was edited out of the truther video above.
Last week, Gardner released an ad in which he called his Democratic opponent a “nice guy” and reminded Colorado voters that his father once ran for president. As the University of Virginia’s Kyle Kondik observed, that sparked a furious manufactured outrage from Udall’s campaign and national Democrats who lambasted Gardner for attacking Udall’s family. If the Democratic campaign was that willing to go nuclear on Gardner over something as painfully fabricated as was their outrage over Gardner’s “nice guy” ad, they won’t hesitate to declare DefCon 1 over any Republican’s use of this video in the context of the campaign.
One does not even need the official transcript to know Udall was being taken out of context in this video. Mark Udall is not a 9/11 truther, and any conservative who seeks to portray him as such is not only misrepresenting the senator’s comments but doing their own cause no good.