GOP Rep. Cory Gardner is taking the lead over Democrat Sen. Mark Udall in a hot mid-term race in the purple state of Colorado. Ellen Carmichael explains what Republicans can learn from Gardner’s strategic campaign over at the Federalist. As it turns out, the lessons revolve around the Right’s tendency to play defense in the face of the Left’s only real weapon of choice, character assassination:
Udall’s fallacious accusations, misrepresentation of his record, or mischaracterization of his beliefs don’t shake Gardner. Instead, he redirects the debate to meatier issues, such as the economy and health care, without getting “in the weeds” on less pressing matters, like whether Julia’s birth-control pills should fall from the sky like Skittles. …Gardner’s consistency and restraint give Udall few openings for attack. When asked about his positions on birth control and abortion, Gardner responds clearly, calmly and with conviction. …We also know there’s no better way to frustrate a bully than to refuse to be bothered by him. Gardner’s disinterest in even entertaining Udall’s wild accusations demonstrate a political maturity. He knows he doesn’t have to fight every battle or feed a troll—even if that troll is a sitting U.S. senator.
Imagine, a politician that stays on point, refusing to waste voters’ time addressing baseless accusations. Could it be that, in the pot state of all places, electioneering hasn’t fallen to the level of a Real Housewives reunion?
Udall’s lame attempts at what Carmichael rightly calls “incessant fear-mongering” seem to echo party line. A few weeks ago, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund sent a mass email penned by Lena “Voting is Like Sex” Dunham. In the email, Dunham channeled the spirit of Sandra Fluke, trudging up the tired old claim that Gardner, “is all about letting your boss tell you what kind of birth control your insurance should cover.” Too bad for Udall the Colorado press isn’t buying the liberal goddess’s line, thanks to Gardner’s refusal to take the bait:
Instead of responding to Udall’s incessant fear-mongering by twisting himself into a rhetorical pretzel, Gardner simply dismisses this ludicrous mischaracterization, shrugging off these accusations for the wild blather they are. He then reinforces a reform he, along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, champions: permitting the sale of contraception over the counter without a prescription. Udall, Colorado’s heralded Rosie Riveter, mysteriously opposes this proposal.
Carmichael heralds the death knell for the War on Women in the Gardner/Udall debates, remarking:
…Democrats are in real danger of overplaying this hand, and if the left-of-center Colorado press is berating Udall for his birth-control mania, imagine how the voters must see him. That doesn’t mean conservatives shouldn’t remain on guard, but they can take heart that perhaps the country has been all Lena Dunham’ed out and wants to talk about bigger issues.
Let’s hope so. But, one thing is for sure. This Colorado midterm may wind up making a big statement about politicians who are serious about their craft, versus political celebrities looking for an easy way to prolong their 15 minutes of fame.