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Hey everyone! I had the day off and I need to take the weekend off to blow off some steam and relax. But I figured I'd at least get you all one or two diaries tonight. More to come this week. Meanwhile, lets head over to Colorado where Tea Party Rep. Cory Gardner (R. CO) is still facing heat over flip flopping on his support for the Personhood Amendment:

FILE - In this April 12, 2014 file photo, Rep. Cory Gardner delivers a speech to Republican delegates at the state GOP Congress, in Boulder, Colo. It wasn’t all that long ago that Republicans used gay marriage as a tool to dive Election Day turnout. But as public opinion on the issue has turned and courts strike down same-sex marriage bans, gay rights is evolving into a wedge issue for Democrats. In Colorado, Udall is hitting his Republican challenger Gardner for casting votes that denied gay people protection from discrimination. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
While his opponent Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and other Democrats labeled Gardner as a flip-flopper, social conservatives felt a deep betrayal. Gardner had advocated for a personhood amendment to the state's constitution since 2008.

"Republicans are so thirsty for victory they're ready to drink saltwater," Ed Hanks, a personhood activist who lives in Douglas County, a Republican stronghold, said at the time, according to the Denver Post. "Cory Gardner has just renounced the party platform and embraced abortion."

Months later, the personhood movement is still unhappy with Gardner's change of heart.

"Cory Gardner is a big disappointment, since he was firmly on our side, and now he's throwing that away for greater political aspirations," Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, told the Wall Street Journal late last month.

Why did Gardner do it? The answer is simple, Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver, told TPM. He had to. The state's 2010 personhood initiative lost 71 percent to 29 percent, per the Post. In purple Colorado, where Republicans haven't won a major statewide race since 2004, GOP candidates must appeal to the middle.

"If he hadn't, his whole campaign would have been a non-starter," Masket said. "That's the position that really would alienate him with all the mainstream voters. It kind of had to be done."

Some conservatives warned at the time that Gardner had taken a risk by distancing himself from reliably conservative voters. "It was politically stupid for him to do that," Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, told the Post. "He's not going to lose all of them. People are pretty ticked by Obamacare, guns and all the other stuff. But Cory needs those votes."

"I think those folks were pretty annoyed. He was one of the people they could count on," Masket said of the backlash. "Those people are almost uniformly very conservative Republicans. They're consistent voters." - TPM, 8/4/14

Even if the fringe base sucks it up and holds their noses for Gardner, he still has everyone else to face in the general election and he's trying to have his cake and eat it too:

Gardner's been jumping up and down and screaming that he no longer supports personhood amendments here in Colorado, even saying so in a TV commercial, but he's not backing off the federal personhood bill, called Life at Conception Act.

Gardner spokespeople have told reporters that the federal legislation "simply states that life begins and conception," and it would have not real-world impact on abortion or contraception.

But if you take one minute and read the bill, you'll see that it actually factually aims to make personhood the law of the land. And other co-sponsors of the bill agree.

So what's up with Gardner?

Gardner was perfectly happy to un-endorse the personhood amendment here in Colorado, and send personhood supporters into conniptions (justifiable conniptions, given that Gardner powered his political career with support from the religious right).

But if Gardner declared the federal personhood bill a well-intentioned mistake, like he did here, he'd be throwing the 153 members of Congress, 132 in the House and 21 in the Senate, who also co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act under the bus.

And you can bet some of those Congresspeople, who actually believe in personhood, would come down on Gardner mercilessly, like hardline abortion opponents are known to do. They see a holocaust unfolding as I write, so Gardner's political expediency wouldn't fly with them. They'd denounce Gardner for claiming their bill is toothless when the text plainly says otherwise.

And how bad would it look, on TV, for members of Congress from around the country to be bashing Gardner? That's a lot messier, visually and politically, than Gardner taking heat from local pastors and churchgoers who've tirelessly pushed the personhood amendment.

Complicating matters for Gardner, who's challenging Democrat Mark Udall, are congressional rules dictating that he'd have to declare his un-endorsement of the Life at Conception Act in a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives, making a Friday news dump via a vague spokesperson impossible.

The political fallout would run deep, stirring up poison, for example, for potential Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, who's the sponsor of the Senate version of the personhood bill. - Huffington Post, 8/4/14

Gardner's position is complicating his re-election bid and is helping Udall's campaign:

Representative Cory Gardner, a Republican in a tight Senate race in Colorado, proposed the same thing after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case exempted some private businesses from covering certain contraceptives in health insurance plans. He was shielding himself from attacks by Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, who has spent months slamming Mr. Gardner’s “radical agenda” on abortion and family planning.

“Udall is running his entire campaign on social issues,” said Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “All they talk about is birth control, ‘personhood,’ abortion.”

So will many other Democrats this fall. They aim to match President Obama’s feat in 2012, when the incumbent used topics such as same-sex marriage and contraception as weapons to offset his vulnerability on the economy. That they would even try while facing the older, whiter, more conservative midterm electorate shows how thoroughly the politics of social issues have turned upside down.

The tumultuous social changes that began in the 1960s supplied decades of political ammunition for Republicans. Beginning with Richard M. Nixon, they rallied Americans disturbed by noisy protests over civil rights, the sexual revolution and the Vietnam War.

“Acid, amnesty and abortion” was the epithet hurled at the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern. Republicans seized on concerns about welfare, school busing and crime — memorably with a black convict named Willie Horton in 1988 — to cement their grip on white voters. As recently as 2004, Republicans used a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to rally tradition-minded “values voters” behind President George W. Bush’s re-election.

Now the values wedge cuts for Democrats. Demographic change keeps shrinking Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress overhauled welfare. Fear of crime has receded enough that members of both parties propose more lenient sentencing.

American households have changed significantly. Nearly half of adults are unmarried. Fully 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples are interracial or interethnic. Acceptance of same-sex marriage has expanded with astonishing speed.

Legalization of medical marijuana has moved, in two states, Colorado and Washington, to legalization of recreational marijuana. College students from the Summer of Love are pushing 70, the elders who disapproved of their behavior are largely gone and young adults are wondering what the turmoil was ever about.

Democrats profit politically — among young voters, college graduates, single women, blacks and Latinos — from the sense that they welcome these cultural shifts while Republicans resist them. - New York TImes, 8/4/14

Isn't it just hilarious and awesome to hear Republicans complain about Democrats using social issues as wedge issues? I mean it's not like Republicans never do that except when they do. Which is al the time. By the way, this is a good move from Udall:

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 15: Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., speaks with fellow committee members before the start of the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., nomination for reappointment to the grade of general and to be commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and to be commander of U.S. Forces, Afghanistan, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, called on his colleagues today to support legislation to ensure all service members and their dependents have access to contraception and family planning counseling at no additional cost, just as most Americans do through their health insurance plans. The Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act, which Udall cosponsors, brings TRICARE's contraceptive coverage policies in line with other employer-based insurance plans and expands counseling for survivors of military sexual assault.

"Women who defend our country in the armed forces and military dependents deserve the same coverage for essential health services that other Americans now have," Udall said. "This bill will ensure these women can plan their families without unnecessary economic hardship. And as part of my efforts to combat sexual assault in the military, my bill also expands access to counseling and emergency contraception for survivors. I won't rest until we've ended sexual assault in the armed forces for good, and until we do, we have to do everything we possibly can to provide the care and services survivors need."

TRICARE -- the military's health coverage program for members of the armed forces, retired service members and dependents -- does not currently extend copay-free contraception coverage to non-active duty women and dependents who fill prescriptions at civilian pharmacies.

Udall has worked tirelessly in Congress and with Colorado's military community to take decisive action against sexual assaults committed by and against military personnel. Udall fought to include several provisions to combat military sexual violence and improve care for survivors in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law in December.

Udall has also led the effort in the U.S. Senate to protect Colorado women's access to essential health services following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow some employers to refuse to cover contraception as part of employees' health insurance policies. A longtime champion for Colorado women's access to affordable health care, Udall has fought to expand access to preventive health care services for women and has championed women's rights to make their own health care decisions. - Insurance News Net, 8/4/14

If you would like to donate and get involved with Udall's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 09:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Colorado COmmunity, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and This Week in the War on Women.

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