President Obama handed Colorado Republicans a golden talking point, a gift-wrapped October surprise, courtesy of MSNBC and the Rev. Al Sharpton, when the chief executive said a vote for Democrats on Nov. 4 is as good as a vote for him.
That’s just what Colorado Republicans have been telling voters as they try to unseat Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and replace him with Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
Obama told Sharpton on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” Oct. 20 he could forgive Democratic House and Senate candidates who didn’t want to be seen with him, because he knows they would vote for the White House agenda in 2015.
“Well, look, here’s the bottom line,” said Obama, “We’ve got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn’t win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turnout. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me.”
That was as good as a hanging curve ball in the center of the plate for Ryan Call, the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.
“The choice in this year’s election is clear: the harmful policies supported by Mark Udall and President Obama versus a strong economy and brighter future under the leadership of Cory Gardner,” said Call.
“Senator Udall can’t hide his allegiance to President Obama’s extreme agenda. Colorado deserves a brighter future, and on Nov. 4, our new beginning starts with Cory Gardner representing Colorado in the United States Senate.”
This wasn’t the first time Colorado Republicans have been gifted by someone outside the GOP.
Three days before Obama told Sharpton a vote for a Democrat was as good as a vote for him, even though his name was not on the ballot, the Colorado Division of Insurance announced 550,000 people would eventually lose their health insurance due to Obamacare.
Of course, Udall voted for Obamacare. In fact, the Democrat was the deciding vote. And he promised Coloradans, as did so many Democrats, they would be able to keep the insurance policies and doctors they liked after Obamacare became the law of the land.
“Coloradans continue to pay the price for Senator Udall’s broken promise,” said Gardner. “It’s unfortunate Sen. Udall has been so eager to please President Obama that he has forgotten thousands of Coloradans across our state. Colorado deserves a senator who will put Colorado first and partisan politics last.”
Udall’s campaign has been so closely tied to women’s healthcare issues and what the Democrats have dubbed the GOP “war on women” that he has been branded “Mark Uterus.”
One reporter said if the Senate campaign in Colorado was a movie, it would have been set in a gynecologist’s office.
“This one-note, fake war on women that the Democrats and Mark Udall have based his entire campaign on just is not working,” Call said in an exclusive interview with PJ Media. “In fact, it is turning off a lot of voters because they realize it is an invented line of attack.”
However, a Quinnipiac University poll released Oct. 16 showed Udall had won the female vote 49 percent to 40 percent. Independent candidate Steve Shogan had 7 percent of the female vote.
The Quinnipiac poll showed Gardner with 42 percent of the vote from people who identified themselves as independents, compared to 39 percent for Udall.
Shogan, the independent candidate, received 13 percent of the vote from people like himself.
Overall, the Quinnipiac poll of likely voters had Gardner beating Udall 47 percent to 41 percent with 8 percent for Shogan.
Call said it is not just Republicans who are promising to vote for Gardner. Independents are leaning his way too.
“Unlike some who are hyper-partisans and firebrands, Cory (Gardner) has a real consistent record of reaching across the aisle,” Call said.
He admitted that point of view is inconsistent with what the GOP base has been saying it wants in other parts of the country. However, Call stressed Republicans in Colorado believe compromise is a good thing.
“Here in Colorado, we have always prided ourselves on results, on getting stuff done,” he said. “Our electorate has always behaved that way. We routinely will elect Republicans to the state Legislature and a Democrat as governor, and have one Democrat senator and one Republican senator.”
Call also said compromise isn’t just accepted by Republicans in Colorado because it is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do, if a party or a candidate wants to win.
He pointed out that the electorate is divided up in equal thirds in Colorado – Democrat, GOP and independent – so compromise is pretty much mandatory.
“Those candidates who have been successful, those elected officials that have been successful are those that have been able to inspire folks from both sides to come together to fix the problems that Coloradans want fixed,” said Call.
He said Udall’s approach, on the other hand, has been one of “slash and burn and to go after virtually everything he could to try to tar a man (Gardner) with a very positive reputation.”
Donors have bought into the Gardner campaign, literally. Cory Gardner for Senate released its third-quarter fundraising numbers Oct. 7, which showed contributions of $4.35 million and more than $3.3 million cash on hand.
Gardner for Senate added an additional $750,000 for their television ad buy in October.
“I am humbled by the incredible outpouring of support from Coloradans ready to shake up the Senate in November,” Gardner said. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership in the Senate that is accountable to the next generation.”
But the Udall campaign did well, too. It reported it raised $4 million and added $535,000 to be spent in its field office program.
Democrats across the nation are worried about voter turnout in this midterm election. However, that is not going to be a problem for Republicans, according to Call.
“It will be a great opportunity,” said Call. “Voters who don’t like the direction of the country are motivated to come out.”
Call said this year the GOP in Colorado has gotten away from the campaign model of using robocalls and direct mail to target voters. It has been back to the future again for the Colorado GOP in 2014. Republicans are walking up steps, standing on the front porch and ringing doorbells.
Call also said the Colorado GOP, along with the Republican National Committee, has invested “significant resources to build out field offices that will provide that door-to-door contact that is really at the heart of the get-out-the-vote effort.”
“We are looking people in the eye and saying, ‘Cory Gardner is a man you can trust,’” he said.
That approach will continue after Nov. 4 looking ahead to 2016.
He said the Colorado GOP hired Asian outreach coordinators, and full-time Hispanic neighborhood engagement coordinators in 2013.
“We starting building out this door-to-door voter contact effort deeply within the communities,” he said.
“The old model of just parachuting in two, or three or four months before an election is not the model that our Republican Party is going to continue with. We are going to be deeply engaged year-round.”
Call said a “significant percentage” of the field offices opened for the 2014 campaign would continue to operate after the election.
“We are going to continue to keep our regional field staff engaged in connecting with people and recruiting great candidates to run for local offices, running neighborhood town hall meetings, continuing to go door-to-door and talking with neighbors,” he said. “We are going to be a year-round, full-time party.”
He doesn’t see any alternative in Colorado.
“If you are going to win here, you have to understand the needs and perspectives of our friends in the African-American community, the Asian community, the Koreans, the Chinese, the Russian immigrant community, the Jewish community, and the unaffiliated voters.”
The chairman said it’s “not about slicing up the electorate.”
“It is about realizing that every member of the community has a unique perspective and our party is going to work hard to win every vote.”
Young voters and keeping the two-party dynamic is also a challenge that Call accepts.
“I think that is the result of our party not doing a very good job of explaining what it means to be a Republican,” Call said.
“We are the conservative party. But conservatism at its best means looking to those enduring (conservative) principles, but then finding creative new solutions to fix the problems that are facing our generation.”