Daily Camera (Boulder)

Hick­en­looper, Gard­ner face off

- By Alex Bur­ness US Elections · U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Elections · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Gardner, Colorado · United States of America · Cory Gardner · Donald Trump · Republican Party (United States) · Republican · Denver · Colorado · English · Joe Biden · United States Senate · U.S. Supreme Court · Clarence Thomas · Samuel Alito · Amy Coney Barrett · Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Barack Obama · Garland · Democratic Party (United States) · Colorado State University · John Hickenlooper · Medicare · Fort Collins

U.S. Sen. Cory Gard­ner in a de­bate Fri­day evening sidesteppe­d ques­tions about the pres­i­dent he long ago en­dorsed, de­clin­ing on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions to say that he is proud of Don­ald Trump’s lead­er­ship in gen­eral and dur­ing the pan­demic.

De­bat­ing Demo­cratic chal­lenger John Hick­en­looper for the third time in a week, Gard­ner, the in­cum­bent Repub­li­can, said how he feels about Trump’s pan­demic re­sponse “isn’t a ques­tion of pride. It’s a ques­tion of get­ting through this to­gether.”

The de­bate was co-hosted by The Den­ver Post, Colorado Pub­lic Ra­dio and Den­ver7 and held at the TV sta­tion’s stu­dio. It was the first English-lan­guage, tele­vised de­bate in the race be­tween the two men.

Both Gard­ner and Hick­en­looper said they op­pose a na­tional mask man­date as a tool to curb the spread of the coro­n­avirus, which has killed more than 200,000 Amer­i­cans. Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den has called for such a man­date.

Hick­en­looper called Trump in­com­pe­tent and said the fed­eral re­sponse to the virus is “a dis­grace.” He crit­i­cized Gard­ner for gen­er­ally keep­ing quiet when Trump does or says some­thing con­tro­ver­sial

But the two agreed on a num­ber of top­ics. Both said they would not vote for a Medi­care For All bill. Both con­demned white supremacy in clear terms, in con­trast to the pres­i­dent’s re­cent invitation for the Proud Boys, a white su­prem­a­cist hate group, to “stand back and stand by.”

A mod­er­a­tor at one point sug­gested that white su­prem­a­cists in Colorado were more likely to vote for Gard­ner than for Hick­en­looper — na­tion­ally, they’re loyal to Trump — and Gard­ner said he re­jected that premise.

The can­di­dates dis­agreed on whether Trump has, as the mod­er­a­tor put it, “in­spired do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism.”

“Quite pos­si­bly, yes,” Hick­en­looper said.

“I sure hope not. No,” Gard­ner said.

Both men said they have faith in the coun­try’s elec­tion sys­tem. Both said they sup­port Se­nate term lim­its.

And both said that they be­lieve mar­riage equal­ity is set­tled law, even as con­ser­va­tive U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tices Clarence Thomas and Sa­muel Al­ito ex­pressed in­ter­est this week in re­vis­it­ing the mat­ter.

Added Hick­en­looper, on that topic, “With the rush to con­firm Amy Coney Bar­rett” to the court, “one has to be con­cerned about some of these things we thought had been set­tled.”

Bar­rett is Trump’s nom­i­nee to re­place late Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg. Re­vers­ing his po­si­tion when Pres­i­dent Barack Obama nom­i­nated Mer­rick Gar­land to the court in 2016, Gard­ner has said he will not op­pose a vote on Bar­rett.

On Fri­day he de­clined to ac­knowl­edge or ex­plain this con­tra­dic­tion.

Hick­en­looper said he doesn’t be­lieve that Gard­ner and the rest of the Se­nate ma­jor­ity will ac­tu­ally go through will con­firm­ing Bar­rett be­fore Jan­uary, when both the Se­nate and White House could flip blue.

The Demo­crat re­fused to di­rectly an­swer a ques­tion about whether he’d sup­port adding seats on the Supreme Court as a po­ten­tial re­tal­i­a­tion mea­sure by Democrats next year.

Through three de­bates in this race, Gard­ner has been on the at­tack con­stantly, seek­ing to char­ac­ter­ize Hick­en­looper as un­trust­wor­thy and only in it for him­self. Hick­en­looper, who is a far less nim­ble talker than the mile-a-minute Gard­ner, has mostly de­clined to de­fend him­self against in­di­vid­ual at­tacks.

As Gard­ner knocked him on his two vi­o­la­tions of state ethics laws and other top­ics, Hick­en­looper said he was con­fi­dent the pub­lic would see through the strat­egy: “Cory Gard­ner can’t de­fend his record, so he’s go­ing to keep at­tack­ing me all night.”

Hick­en­looper at one point cited a 9NEWS fact-check of a new Gard­ner bill con­cern­ing pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, which de­scribed that bill as “horse ex­cre­ment.” Gard­ner said he took of­fense to that and ques­tioned why Hick­en­looper would be so neg­a­tive.

Hick­en­looper re­jected Gard­ner’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of his tone, but he did say he didn’t ex­pect the race would get this neg­a­tive, and graded him­self a “B” on cam­paign pos­i­tiv­ity. Gard­ner de­clined to give him­self a grade for pos­i­tiv­ity.

The de­bate was mostly much more civil and is­sues­fo­cused than the pres­i­den­tial de­bate Sept. 29, though Gard­ner did on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions speak over mod­er­a­tors.

The Se­nate can­di­dates’ final tele­vised de­bate will be held Tues­day at Colorado State Univer­sity in Fort Collins, mod­er­ated by 9NEWS jour­nal­ists.

 ?? Hy­oung Chang, The Den­ver Post ?? Former Gov. John Hick­en­looper, left, and U.S. Sen. Cory Gard­ner bump el­bows Fri­day af­ter their tele­vised de­bate in Den­ver.
Hy­oung Chang, The Den­ver Post Former Gov. John Hick­en­looper, left, and U.S. Sen. Cory Gard­ner bump el­bows Fri­day af­ter their tele­vised de­bate in Den­ver.

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